Confessions of a golf snob
Admit it. When the Golf Digest course rankings come out each year, you look to see if you’ve played any of those courses and maybe how many. In my early years, my golf plans were dominated by that list as I pursued my dream of bringing bad golf to the best courses in the world. I gained a lot from that list as I found magical courses that I might have missed like Royal County Down in Northern Ireland (made even more special by Quinn’s Pub right down the road). I also found courses where my experience was different from the raters — “really you think this is one of the best golf courses?”
As I grew older but not necessarily more mature, I found myself playing a lot of courses that were not on the BEST lists, and I discovered I not only loved playing them, but found some hidden gems — not always the whole course but some amazingly super holes. I recently played Butler Country Club, north of Pittsburgh, in a Member/Guest. I had played it years ago, but it was only now that I realized how terrific the course is. It’s not on any list because it doesn’t have a name designer or hasn’t hosted a big championship, but it’s easily on my list of best of Pennsylvania (in the Top 3 in terms of wild, fun and crazy members).
For 24 years, I have taken 8 to 12 guys to either Ireland or Scotland on a golf trip. Last year, they asked are we going to Scotland or Ireland this year. I teased them by saying the venue for 2018 starts with “S.” Before they booked their flights to Edinburgh, I explained that the “S” in this case stood for Scranton, Pa. After some questions about my sanity, we rented a 10-bedroom house in Whitehaven, Pa., and played four A.W. Tillinghast courses (Fox Hill, Irem, Valley and Wyoming Valley) and the superb Huntsville. What we came to realize is that there is great golf and wonderful golf experiences beyond the highly touted and usually deserving ranked venues. Many of GAP’s 275 courses welcome unescorted guests or are public, semi-public venues. I encourage all of our members to broaden their golf experience by visiting some of these wonderful venues.
As long as we’re in the confessional, let’s confess to the gap that still exists between the private country club golfer and the daily-fee public golfer. Public golfers is how many of us started with golf. I remember playing the 9-hole course at the American Legion Post in Avondale, Ga., with my father in my early teens. Golf has never been better than that for me. We want the public golfer to see GAP as its partner in making golf more fun, accessible and affordable. To reflect the criticality of public golf for GAP, we have created a Public Golf Committee to identify and implement ways to have GAP better serve the public golfer.
One last confession. I play top shelf golf balls which I find go farther as I drive them into the woods given my pathetic game. My younger brother John makes fun of me for that snobbery since he’ll play whatever he can find in his bag or trunk. We were once playing golf at Hidden Creek Golf Club in a charity event when a player who had been paired with us noticed that John was playing a “ladies” ball. After receiving some fairly sharp teasing from this guy, John told him “it’s actually a good ball.” The guy replied sarcastically, “I’ll bet it is.” John then handed him his business card as USGA Managing Director of Equipment Standards and closed the interchange with “No, it really is a good ball!” Snobbery usually ends badly, says a repenting snob.
T. Quinn Spitzer