Good golf versus great golf

“It’s the little things that separate the good from the great”

–          Bob Schneider

My first encounter with the good v great golf course question was in reviewing a blog post by Robert Thompson in his blog. Specifically, Robert was writing about the challenges and current shortcomings of the state of golf in Prince Edward Island, specifically Crowbush Cove.  With a recent trip to Cape Breton Island in my rear view mirror and with good memories of world class and top ranked Canadian courses like Cabot Links and Highlands Links and an underrated gem like The Lakes, I shifted my gaze and anticipation to PEI.  Robert’s premise is that PEI offers good golf but not great golf and the chance to upgrade Crowbush Cove is the real hope to move the needle to true greatness for golf in PEI.

For myself, a public player who is only starting to explore Canada’s excellent public golf courses I was taken aback by this critical and candid review. But it did leave me with a lingering question of what makes a golf course good versus great?  And like many debates in the world of golf there is a significant element of subjectivity to it.  I have played courses over the past year or two, highly touted courses, which are not ‘great’ in my opinion.  They’re very good courses I’d happily experience again but I don’t prefer them to others and there are characteristics about them which I do not enjoy.  I acknowledge others may disagree, especially since they sit prominently on top 50 or 100 lists.

So allow me to wade into the debate and offer my opinion to help support myself and others answer this difficult question.

Factors such as location, scenery, layout, conditioning, unique/ memorable quality, facilities and staff are the foundational pieces around greatness.  But I offer forward the following for consideration which complement the clear factors above:

–          Enjoyment

–          Relevance

–          Worthy of travelling to play

–          Challenge

–          History (a trait which I find to be underrated)

–          Diversity (of holes throughout the 18)

–          Fairness

–          Value

But perhaps greatness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. And with that, I can take comfort in knowing I have some courses off the beaten path which I find to be great.   For that reason I am comfortable offering my opinion and listening to criticism around what courses are good and what courses are great.  After my fall 2015 trip to PEI I can offer an informed opinion on the greatness of PEI golf.  For now, I am happy to reflect on my own experience, read and listen to others and explore what greatness in Canadian public golf means to others.

What do you feel makes a golf course great?