What is summer? Seemingly a simple question with a complex answer. In New Jersey, it is the period between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox. In Melbourne the answer is quite different. Summer is also a state of mind and a time to play tennis, cricket, and of course, golf. The third volume of the Confidential Guide to Golf Courses focuses on “summer destinations” in North America. While you can certainly play courses in Arizona, Florida, and California during the summer, this volume focuses only on courses that typically have their prime conditions during the warmer months. Thus, the book focuses on courses in Canada and the those in the United States roughly above the Mason-Dixon line including those in New England, the Great Lakes and the Mountain West and Pacific Northwest.
In my prior review of the “winter courses” version of the Confidential Guide I predicted the addition of two more “perfect” golf courses: Pine Valley and the National Golf Links. As I normally am, I was wrong. The new book lists three courses with the perfect score of ten: Pine Valley, Sand Hills, and Shinnecock Hills. In my humble opinion, it is a big miss not to include the National Golf Links of America in that bunch. These new editions of the Confidential Guide include the ratings of four people, and three of the four gave National a two-digit score: it received a 10-10-10-9. I know I’m splitting hairs here, but someone is going to have to explain to me what the National is missing? It seems that Darius Oliver is a very tough grader, as his was the 9 score. Surprisingly, he only gives the Yale golf course a 6. I would hate to be in Darius’s class if he was a school teacher!
The cover of volume 3 of the Confidential Guide features the Rock Creek Cattle Company
My analysis of the ratings above is one of the reasons I continue to love the Confidential Guides. After all, our opinions and views of golf courses are subjective, and I for one love to compare my opinion to that of other informed golfers. In this regard the new volume is a great book. It provides a great platform and baseline to compare courses and to allow you to articulate what you agree with and don’t agree with. I agree with the perfect tens for Sand Hills, but don’t agree that Bandon Trails should be 8-9-8-8, nor do I agree that it should be ranked higher than Bandon Dunes, which received all sevens.
Aside from the numerical rankings, the book also provides great guidance on which courses are worth going out of your way to visit. After all, the intent of the Confidential Guide series is to serve as a guidebook that allows golfers who care about such things to visit courses that are special and worthy of your time and money. The upfront Gourmet’s Choice section of the book includes some new names for me, including Gamble Sands, a David Kidd-designed course in Washington State, Fowler’s Mill, a Pete Dye-designed course in Cleveland and Hooper, a 9-hole Wayne Styles-design in Walpole, New Hampshire. These special courses are called out above the others in the book as being especially worthy of a visit.
In the train-wreck category, three courses get the dreaded zero rating, and in my view, negative reviews are so much more entertaining to read than positive ones. Or at least, they are certainly funnier.
Each of the prior Confidential Guides gave out only one ‘10’ score each. It tells you a great deal about the quality of the golf in the “summer” locations that three additional courses have been added in one volume. I predict that only one additional course in the coming guides will receive a perfect score: Royal Melbourne, leaving the summer courses in the U.S. with half of the world’s perfect courses. Given my prior track record, my prediction plus $2.75 will get you a ride on the New York City subway.
Tom Doak has also announced that there is a new version of the Confidential Guide available, known as the leather bound edition and limited to only 100 copies. The details on the quality of the book are below. The five volume set sells for $5,000. Only the first three volumes are available today and the remaining two volumes will ship when the next two editions of the book are available (Europe, Middle East and Africa next year and Asia, Australia and New Zealand in 2018).
The limited edition of 100 of the Confidential Guide
Details of the limited edition of one hundred:
- Gilt edged in 23k gold
- Handmade French marble paper end sheets
- Silk head and tail bands
- Bound in the finest goatskin leather
- Traditional five raised band spine
- Lavishly gold tooled front, back, and spine, also in 23k gold.
- A custom numbered limited edition print is included in each book
- Each volume housed in an elegant custom slipcase, with 23k gold tooled cover and inlayed front image
- Each book is signed by Tom Doak and his 3 co-authors and numbers.
If you are interested in the limited edition, please contact us.
To view the Confidential Guide on Amazon: The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses Vol 3, The American (summer destinations)
— John Sabino