Why You Shouldn't Always Play Where the Pros Play

I don't have stats on this, but it sure seems like more PGA Tour events are now played on publicly accessible courses than ever before.

Given how they look in high-definition and how Jim Nantz gushes about them, you might think you should jump at the chance to play any PGA Tour course with direct or indirect public access.

Sure, in many cases, it is a thrilling, memorable experience.

But take it from someone who has been burned more than a few times: not all PGA Tour courses are created equal. And just because you can "play where the pros play," doesn't mean you should.

The truth is, tour stops aren't necessarily chosen because they are the best courses; there are lots of factors including (in some instances) how much money they are willing to shell out to get the exposure.

This past weekend's event at TPC Scottsdale is a great example where watching the pros probably trumps playing the course yourself, and nowhere is this more true than on the made-for-TV spectacle of the Stadium Course's 16th hole.

See, without the grandstands and loud, well-lubricated fans, the hole isn't very recognizable...or memorable, which was pretty much my reaction to the course overall.

Yes, you'll find nice landscaping and diligent course maintenance, but the desert features seem artificial, the scenery isn't overly inspiring, and the wide fairways and lack of forced carries were almost player friendly to a fault.

Now, if you're a big fan of the tournament and you love the idea of playing where the pros play, you might really enjoy this course. I just found it hard to justify the $300 high season price tag.

Here's another example:

Also in Scottsdale, I recommend most golfers play Grayhawk Golf Club's Talon Course, not its Raptor Course, even though the latter previously hosted a PGA tour event.

The Talon Course : 1) is more fun to play, 2) is more manageable for most golfers because of its prevalent bailout areas, and 3) features the scenic highlight of this 36-hole facility.

And here's one more:

In Puerto Rico, the PGA Tour plays the Championship Course at Trump International Golf Links.

It's a technically fine golf course, but I think even Donald Trump would admit (off camera) that it's not quite as "spectacular" as some of the others in his portfolio.

I think you're better off playing its sibling, the International Course, which is more scenic and fun to play. The front nine in particular is full of surprises and "wow" moments.

So, have you played any courses the pros play? Did the experience live up to your expectations or was it a bit of a letdown?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine, USAToday.com, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.
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onesie stitch
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