A few random things about my ratings:
- All courses are compared to each other in the overall scale of ratings. In theory, most courses achieve, or come pretty close to achieving their ultimate quality, or who they're appealing to. In other words, being 'beginner friendly' is not a reason to boost a course's rating. I've played school courses and/or short pitch-n-putt courses that could not be any better due to certain limitations - terrain, available space, skill level its appealing to, etc. In a vacuum, that course is as perfect as its going to get, so in that sense it's a perfect course. Because we don't live in vacuums, that course is going to get compared to every course, which is why perfectly good courses I've played are going to get a lower rating. Conversely, there are certain courses I've played, that if I was rating solely on fun factor (or in a vacuum), it would get a lower rating. Overall though, when compared to all courses, and taking out personal feelings, they've ended up with higher ratings than I think would be merited if it were solely a subjective rating. So, in the end, more challenging courses will usually get rated higher and shorter, easier; more beginner friendly courses will usually get rated lower. Simple as that.
- The biggest factor I use in rating a course is difficulty/overall quality. A course's challenge is really the only thing that goings to make a person want to play a course over and over, or never again. Look at my highest rated courses, they're the most challenging courses I've played. The highest rated courses should challenge even the best of players. Champion-caliber courses are champion caliber courses. Even if they destroy me, I'll recognize quality when I see it. A lower rated course may still be a good, or enjoyable course, it's just not as difficult.
- If I'm stuck between 2 ratings, I'll go with the higher rating.
- I can be overly critical of course flaws, particularly when I see potential for it to be even better. If and when changes are made, I'll adjust my rating accordingly.
- Amenities are nice, but they're a small part of the equation, and can only help a course's rating so much. They may improve or hurt a course's rating by a half if they're really good or bad. In the end, it comes down to the course and how it plays; hence the rating should reflect this.
- I make sure to separate my personal feelings about a course versus the rating I feel it deserves. For example, I love playing Park Circle in North Charleston, SC or Timmons Park in Greenville, SC. They're two of my favorites, but they're neither difficult nor elite caliber. And as such, I reflect that in my ratings.
- As I play and review more courses, I will adjust some of my ratings if I see fit. A course I originally may have thought was really good or unique may not appear so as I have more courses to compare it to.
- As much as I like my hometown courses, I'll be the first to admit when an out-of-town course is even better.
- There is no "set-in-stone" rule that I abide by. For example, concrete tees are best, but sometimes a dirt tee is better for the course layout - more natural feel, etc.
Favorite "fun-factor" courses. These courses have that special something, that have me hooked no matter what I shoot. These are the courses I'd give a 5.0 for fun factor.
1. Harmon Hills (Fall Branch, TN)
2. High Country (Jefferson, NC)
3. Sugaree (Linville, NC) - RIP
4. Timmons Park (Greenville, SC)
5. Brackett's Bluff old layout (Davidson, NC) - RIP
6. IDGC - Steady Ed Headrick Memorial (Appling, GA)
7. Mountain Lake (Pembroke, VA)
Don't judge a book by its cover. These courses may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, or have other negatives (bad neighborhood, crime, etc), but they're solid courses nonetheless.
1. Renaissance Park (Charlotte, NC) - it's built on a landfill. Enough said
2. Morningside Park (Knoxville, TN)
3. Kiwanis DGC (Staunton, VA)
4. Rankin Lake DGC (Gastonia, NC)
5. Sugaw Creek Park (Charlotte, NC)
Favorite 9 hole courses I've played:
1. Park Circle (Charleston, SC)
2. Steele Creek (Bristol, TN)
3. Eagle Landing (Hanahan, SC) - RIP
4. Mint Hill Park (Mint Hill, NC)
5. Admiral Farragut Park (Knoxville, TN)
6. Owen Hign Nature Trail (Black Mountain, NC)
7. USC Aiken (Aiken, SC)
Courses I've played that I wish were closer:
1. IDGC - all three courses (Appling, GA)
2. Harmon Hills (Fall Branch, TN)
3. Sugaree (Linville, NC) - RIP
4. Mountain Lake (Pembroke, VA)
5. High Country (Jefferson, NC)
6. New Quarter Park (Williamsburg, VA)
7. Morningside Park (Knoxville, TN)
8. Pipeline (Spartanburg, SC)
9. Timmons Park (Greenville, SC)
10. Grand Central Station (Central, SC)
11. Stoney Hill (Newberry, SC)
12. Fontana Village Resort (Fontana Dam, NC)
13. Walnut Creek (Charlottesville, VA)
13. Trophy Lakes (Charleston, SC)
My one-hit wonders (courses I've only played once, but can't wait to play again)
1. Harmon Hills (Fall Branch, TN)
2. IDGC - WR Jackson Memorial (Appling, GA)
3. Mountain Lake DGC (Pembroke, VA)
4. Morningside Park (Knoxville, TN)
5. Stoney Hill (Newberry, SC)
6. Pipeline (Spartanburg, SC)
7. Grand Central Station (Central, SC)
8. Rolling Pines (Wilkesboro, NC)
9. Fontana Village Resort (Fontana Dam, NC)
10. IDGC - Steady Ed Headrick Memorial (Appling, GA)
11. Falling Creek Park (Bedford, VA)
12. Victor Ashe Park (Knoxville, TN)
Courses I've played that I feel are underrated:
(This could mean they're: 1. out of the way, so they're lightly played; 2. get lost in the shadow of other nearby courses; 3. an average course (in terms of ratings), but are still fun plays.
1. Morningside Park (Knoxville, TN) - Fun, challenging course that isn't in the best part of town. A Stan McDaniel inspired new layout makes this course a huge improvement (so I've heard) over the old layout.
2. Stumpy Creek (Mooresville, NC) - 30 minutes north of Charlotte, gets lost in the shuffle. I've never seen more than a handful of people playing when I've been there.
3. Goose Landing (Richfield, NC) - work in progress. Will make for an awesome compliment to Fox Chase, 10 minutes down the road.
4. Goyne Park (Chester, VA) - great course just south of Richmond. Based on some of the reviews, course has been tremendously improved over the past couple years.
5. Victor Ashe Park (Knoxville, TN) - great, open course played throughout rolling hills. Gives plenty of challenge and isn't just a big arms course.
6. Armfield Civic Center (Pilot Mountain, NC) - a (mostly) very solid layout since its redesign. Plenty of challenging, enjoyable layouts, but course is hindered by a couple poor and/or hazardous holes.
7. Boyd Hill (Rock Hill, SC) - 5 minutes from Winthrop. Average course with some really fun and interesting hole layouts.
8. Tidal Creek (Charleston, SC) - **Caveat** Only when the course is dry. At its best, this is a fun, technical course with plenty of risk/reward holes. After rain, course becomes virtually unplayable.
Kilborne #13 - 285 feet
Elon Park short course #13 - 220 feet
Richmond Hill #2 - 219 feet - 6/6/10
Lowell Elementary School #9 - 145 feet - 7/29/10
Elon Park Eager Beaver #17 - 247 feet - 7/4/14 (practice round)