When it comes to deciding which golf courses are worth your hard-earned money, there are no shortage of rankings to comb through.
But Golf Advisor’s rankings are unique, in that they’re essentially determined via golfers’ online reviews — not some industry insider whose company expense account makes it easier to play wherever, and whenever.
And several Michigan public courses did quite well in the Golf Advisor rankings released this week, particularly west Michigan’s Pilgrim’s Run, which checked in at No. 5 in the website’s “Best of 2018: Top 10 golf courses in the U.S.”
Pilgrim’s Run, which opened in the late 1990s, trails only four legendary courses: No. 1 Bethpage Black in New York, No. 2 Atlantic City Country Club, No. 3 TPC Sawgrass (Stadium) in Florida, and No. 4 Tobacco Road in North Carolina.
“This is our fifth top-50 list since we launched Golf Advisor in 2014 and the variety of our reviewers continue to evolve,” Brandon Tucker, senior managing editor for Golf Advisor, said in a statement. “While the list includes a sampling of bucket-list courses that are delivering on high golfer expectations, a large selection of the list features special, more reasonably priced courses that are excelling in their local or regional market.”
Pilgrim’s Run, starting at $59, is among the most cost-friendly courses in the top 50. Pilgrim’s Run carries a Golf Advisor rating of 4.8 out of five stars, making it an impressive hidden gem in the village of less than 200 residents located a half-hour north of Grand Rapids.
Pilgrim’s Run also was No. 15 on the website’s top-25 list of “best layouts,” was No. 1 on the list of friendliest staffs and was No. 2 among conditions.
Right behind Pilgrim’s Run on the top-50 course list was the only other Michigan course on the list, the UAW-owned Black Lake Golf Club, designed by the legendary Rees Jones, in northern Michigan’s Onaway, at No. 6.
The Golf Advisor rankings considered more than 2,800 golf courses, and 825,000 reviews.
Other local highlights:
►Value: No. 8, Pierce Lake Golf Course, Chelsea; No. 12, Holly Meadows Golf Course (Capac); No. 14, The Colonial Golf Course, Hart; No. 18, Gaylord Golf Club; No. 24, Coyote Preserve Golf Club, Fenton.
►Layout: No. 12, Ravines Golf Club, Saugatuck; No. 17, Diamond Springs Golf Course, Hamilton.
►Conditions: No. 6, Gladstone Golf Course; No. 7, Macatawa Legends Golf & Country Club, Holland; No. 15, Black Lake; No. 24, Eagle Eye Golf Club, Bath.
►Improved conditions from 2017: No. 3, Copper Hills Golf Club, Oxford; Stoatin Brae at Gull Lake View, Augusta.
The PGA Tour might be taking another step toward connecting players with television viewers.
Several years ago, it asked players in contention on the weekend to allow for TV interviews before their rounds, usually as they were arriving or leaving the practice range. Now they are looking for volunteers willing to do interviews on the course during their rounds.
It’s in the experimental stage at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which starts today, and the willingness to take part depends on the player.
Brooks Koepka, the reigning PGA Tour player of the year, nixed the idea last year in Shanghai but said he might be OK with it now.
“Don’t they do that on the Champions Tour?” he asked.
Justin Thomas? Not so much.
Thomas talks plenty during his round, usually to himself or with caddie Jimmy Johnson. The idea of stopping for a quick interview was not appealing to him.
“I’ve just been asked about it,” he said. “I said, ‘No.’ It’s not me. I do a lot of self-talking. That’s mine and Jimmy’s time, whether we’re talking about whatever, or even the next shot. For me, there’s no benefit. It’s only going to make me look worse.”
Such interviews are not likely to occur in the final round, and PGA Tour officials are sensitive to the timing of the interviews.
A quick spot with Dustin Johnson after his 432-yard drive came within 6 inches of the cup last year at Kapalua might be an ideal situation.
Right after a three-putt bogey from 10 feet might not be.
Associated Press contributed;
Course: The Plantation Course at Kapalua (Hawaii); 7,518 yards, par 73
Purse: $6.5 million (winner: $1.3 million)
TV: Today-Friday, 6-10 p.m. (GC); Saturday, 4-6 p.m. (NBC), 6-8 p.m. (GC); Sunday, 6-10 p.m. (GC)