Guide to value golf in the U.S.

By Matt GinellaFebruary 27, 2013, 1:00 pm

Value is obviously relative. And a 'value golf course' is an assessment of history, design, condition, service, fun factor, charm and cost relative to other courses in the area. Having had the opportunity to play throughout the U.S., I've developed a sliding scale of comparison courses that helps me make judgment calls on what I can safely consider good value. Those courses are Old Brack in San Antonio ($55), Bethpage Black in New York ($75), The Classic in Brainerd, Minn. ($125), Forest Dunes in Roscommon, Mich. ($150) and Pasatiempo in Santa Cruz, Calif. ($250).

For my money, my own money, I'd always be OK paying peak-season prices to play those courses on a weekend. Any course over $250 would have to be one of the best, not only in the country, but in the world. And at $495, plus the caddie or cart fee and at least $700 to stay in The Lodge, even a course like Pebble is relegated once-in-a-lifetime status.

I could play any of the courses on the following list every day for a lifetime. And that's the difference.

I'll continue to add to the list below until it becomes The Ultimate Guide to Value Golf in the U.S. (I'll stop at 50 courses, and continue to tweak the list accordingly.) The order will start with Coronado, the least expensive, and no course on this list will be over $99; $100 is a fair ceiling to what most cost-conscious avid amateurs would consider 'ultimate' value.

• Coronado GC in Coronado, Calif. ($35)

A good course with some fun holes. The flat terrain makes it easily walkable and finishes with a scenic stretch of golf along the San Diego Bay. Slow play can be an issue, but that's also a tribute to its popularity, not necessarily because it's a problem. People who play Coronado are willing to spend more time on the course as opposed to spending more money to ensure a four-hour round. 


• Wachusett CC in West Boylston, Mass. ($40)

A Donald Ross original (1927), only 45 minutes from downtown Boston – Wachusett has been owned and operated by four generations of the Marrone family. The finishing hole is a 177-yard par 3.


• Peninsula Golf Resort in Lancaster, Ky. ($42)

There aren't a lot of Pete Dye designs for under $50. If you can find Peninsula Golf Resort, roughly 45 minutes from Lexington, you'll consider this course great value. With 24 neighboring four-bedroom villas, it's especially great for buddies trips who like non-pretentious seclusion for their various forms of debauchery.


• Warren Golf Course in Notre Dame, Ind. ($45)

The website says it all: 'Beautiful, Playable and Affordable.' Host of Notre Dame's golf teams and the 2010 Women's Public Links Championship, the Warren Course was built by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in 1999.


• The Highlands in Elgin, Ill. ($46)

A little less than an hour from Chicago, Highlands was built by Keith Foster and is considered one of the best deals in the Chicagoland area. Foster, one of the good guys in the golf industry, worked with Arthur Hills, and after breaking out on his own, has built up a well-respected resume of courses. He has also renovated some greats, such as: Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla.;Garden City on Long Island and Colonial CC in Fort Worth, Texas.


• Wild Horse G.C. in Gothenburg, Neb. ($48.50)

Not far from Sand Hills Golf Club in Mullen, Neb., Wild Horse gets almost as much acclaim. Especially for a green fee of less than $50. Dave Axeland and Dan Proctor, two of the guys who worked on Sand Hills with Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, designed Wild Horse. You'll enjoy a minimalist look on rolling dunesland for a nominal fee. 


• Pacific Grove in Pacific Grove, Calif. ($52)

The back nine offers glimpses and stretches of golf along the same coastline as Pebble Beach. Pacific Grove is widely considered the poster course for value golf, and thus, it's on this list. ‘Nuff said.  


• CommonGround in Denver, Colo. ($52)

Tom Doak waived his design fee to renovate an old military course into an 18-hole championship course and a nine-hole kid’s course. Doak did such a good job, CommonGround was used as the companion course to Cherry Hills for the 2012 U.S. Amateur Championship


• Delray Beach Golf Club in Delray Beach, Fla. ($52)

The oldest muny in a state loaded with golf, Donald Ross built the first nine holes in 1923. Some complain about slow play, but no one is opposed to the green fee or the $3 charge for a bucket of balls.


• Brackenridge Park Golf Course in San Antonio, Texas ($55)

An A.W. Tillinghast original, 'Old Brack' is the oldest golf course in Texas and original host of the Texas Open (1922). With strategic doglegs, tree-lined fairways, some elevated square greens that are well protected by iconic Tilly bunkering – although it's only 6,200 yards from the tips – Old Brack has plenty of bite.

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


FALLING

J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


EUROPE'S BIG 5

Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.