Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Golf Digest 2013 Golf Course Rankings

Golf Digest have updated their top 100 American golf course rankings! Eight new courses have made it into the rankings. In 2013 their official golf course ranking list is as follows: 

Pine Valley, N.J. / George Crump & H.S. Colt (1918)
7,057 yards

Augusta, Ga. / Alister Mackenzie & Bobby Jones (1933)
7,435 yards

Pebble Beach / Alister Mackenzie (1928)
6,524 yards

Southampton, N.Y. / William Flynn (1931)
7,041 yards

5. (4) OAKMONT C.C.
Oakmont, Pa. / Henry Fownes (1903)
7,255 yards,

Pebble Beach / Jack Neville & Douglas Grant (1919)
6,828 yards

Mamaroneck, N.Y. / A.W. Tillinghast (1923)
7,258 yards

9. (9) SAND HILLS G.C.
Mullen, Neb. / Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw (1994)
7,089 yards

Fishers Island, N.Y. / Seth Raynor & Charles Banks (1926)
6,566 yards

The Pine Valley golf course.
As such, Pine Valley has eclipsed Augusta as Golf Digest's top U.S. golf course. This golf course, which is surrounded by virgin woodland, has climbed up from second spot. For a golf course that has hosted no notable championships, except perhaps the Walker Cup, it doesn't have huge championship pedigree compared to courses such as St Andrews, Pebble Beach etc. But as is stated on the Golf Digest site, "Pine Valley blends three schools of golf course design.

Overall, there's not a notable shift in the top 10 of the rankings at least. Fishers Island Club, in New York, is one of the new entries at number 10. This is a supposed Cypress Point of the east, a coastal course which has a variety of holes located along Block Island Sound. 

Aside from that, the top 10 are pretty much the same. Cypress Point, at Pebble Beach, is another of the climbers, which is the shortest course in the top 10. That's the one with the terrific par-3 hole, which has green separated from the tee by its ocean coastline. Its neighboring course, Pebble Beach Links, has dropped a place, but remains the top ranked U.S. public course. 

I'm sure I've added posts about some of these courses in previous posts on AG. Check them out via the archives. For the full rankings check out the Golf Digest site

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The First Golf Club & Course in North America

Golf came to North America during the 19th century in 1873. Then Scottish colonialists arrived in Montreal to establish the very first golf club on the continent. That was the Royal Montreal Golf Club.

It was there that the first North American golf course was constructed. This was a small six hole golf course, which was later expanded to nine. That golf course occupied Fletcher's field on the outskirts of Montreal. Here the first interclub games in North America emerged as they took on Royal Quebec Golf Club. Thus the Canadians were among the first beyond the British Isles to embrace the game.

The other golf course constructed soon after was that of Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club. That golf club's nine hole course was established in 1875. Unlike the first course at Royal Montreal it remains intact today as one that you can play on.

The Royal Montreal Club relocated to Dixie, approximately 10 miles out from the city. Later the club moved to  Île-Bizard, Quebec in 1959. There the club remains today with an 80,000 square foot clubhouse that is the home of North American golf. Here the club has three modern golf courses: the Blue, Red and Dixie course which has nine holes.

The Blue Course is one that has been rated among the top 100 within North America. The course stretches some 7,153 yards overall. On the latter nine holes there are some substantial lakes which surround the 15, 16 and 17th hole, bringing water into play along their fairways. The 17th par-3 hole includes a green separated from the tee box by water, reminiscent of Augusta's Golden Bell hole. As a venue of the PGA Tour it has hosted the Presidents Cup.

As a the home of golf in North America the club is steeped in history. Here you can also play at one of Canada's great courses. Check out the Royal Montreal site for further details on the historic club.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Golf in the Maldives

So it's clear that the floating island golf course is set to put the Maldives on the golfing map. But that's not exactly set to be the first golf course in the Maldive island chain. In actual fact two golf courses are already there.

One of the golf courses can be found at the Kuredu Island Resort. You can reach the Kuredu Island via seaplane, and here there are some lovely tropical beaches. This resort has also added it's very own golf course.

However, that golf course has just six holes. All the holes included here are par-3s. The average yardage of the holes is approximately 55 yards, and so it is more of a pitch and putt golf course. But the resort does include a range as well.

At Shangri-La's Villingili Resort there is an altogether larger golf course. That is a new golf course which is located across seven and a half hectares of land. This is a nine hole golf course with holes that average 123 yards. If that is so then it should be 1,107 yards. The course has a variety of exotic plants, palms and pandanus scattered alongside the holes and adjacent beach coves.  

I checked the course map, and the more exciting holes here could be the ninth and third. Those holes seem to have the most distance, and also play alongside the coastline. The ninth finishing hole includes the most bunkers, and also has a small lake (or possibly pond) located just ahead of the green. Check out the course's website for further details, photos and the map.  

So, you can now play golf in the Maldives at these golf courses. Even if the courses lack distance, they still have some great landscapes alongside the sea. When the floating golf course becomes the first full sized 18 - hole course in the Maldives who knows what could follow with additional man made islands.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The First Floating Golf Course

An island in the Maldives.
Golf courses up mountains and in deserts are one thing, but now the first floating golf course is to be constructed. It is at the Maldives, a low elevation island chain in the Indian Ocean, that plans have been drafted for a new floating golf course that will be surrounded by sea water. Forget about Pebble Beach, as this will be more than a mere coastal course.

This golf course is just a part of a wider plan in the Maldives to replace sinking, or flooded, islands with a network of new artificial islands. The Maldives have turned to the Dutch Docklands International to construct a series of new man made islands. Among them will be the floating golf course that will consist of three small interconnected floating islands, and that is supposed to pave the way for the construction of further islands in the Maldives. One of the architects stated, "When it comes to the golf course, the islands will be floated into position first and then the grass will be seeded and the trees planted afterwards."

The golf course's islands will be interconnected with a series of underwater tunnels. The underwater glass tunnels will be a little like some of those aquariums you might find. Check out the images from Daily Mail's report. The course's clubhouse will also be connected underwater, via elevator.

The more specific destination for this new golf course will be just off the Maldive capital, that of Male. It is expected that a short speed boat ride will be required to reach the course from there. The course is scheduled to be complete sometime in 2013, and the overall resort by 2015. Then you can play at the first floating golf course!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Amateur Golfer Makes Top 10 of Technorati's Golf Blog Rankings

Amateur Golfer is now ranked among the top 10 Technorati golf blogs! It was ranked 10th (although may have dropped to 12th) in the rankings. Here's a shot of the Technorati ranking page when it was in the top 10:

Hopefully this upward trend will continue, and who knows how much further the blog can climb in their rankings. Keep coming back, I promise more posts.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What to Check For When Selecting a New Golf Bag for Your Clubs

A golf bag is a fairly essential bit of kit for the golf course which is used for carrying the golf clubs. As such, unless you hire golf clubs with a bag you will need to have your own golf bag for the golf course. Overall, there are a few types of golf bags, and here are a few things to look for when upgrading your golf bag.

Firstly, you should consider whether the golf bag is a female or male bag. The main difference between these bags is that ladies bags are usually a little shorter than the male bags because ladies golf clubs are also shorter. In addition to this, they can also have additional extras and variable designs.

As mentioned, there are various different types of golf bags, and so this is also something to consider. For example, there are cart bags, stand bags, and tour bags. The main difference between the cart bag and stand bag is that the cart bag is designed to go into the back of golf carts. If you happen to ride around golf courses in the carts then cart bags are something to look for. If not, then you can overlook them in favor of other alternatives.

Those other alternatives include the stand bags and tour bags. The stand bag is a golf bag that comes with stands, and this is really the most prevalent golf bag for the course. With these stands the golf bag will not need to be rested on anything, or put on the ground. As such, stand bags are the better bag for most.

The tour bags are really the largest of golf bags that are included on the PGA Golf Tour. In the pro game tour bags are more prevalent because the golfers usually need to fill the bags up with the maximum number of golf clubs. Then, in addition to this numerous other accessories. If you are after a large golf bag then the tour bags are certainly something to look out for. If not, then you may want to overlook them in favor of smaller alternatives.

As such, the size and dimensions of a golf bag is certainly something to take note of when looking for a new golf bag. While larger bags such as the tour bags will certainly be able to fit more of the largest clubs, and more accessories, it's worth noting that they are also not particularly light-weight. Most amateurs will not have caddies to carry their bags, so this is a disadvantage. Equally, most amateurs will not likely take a full set of clubs onto the course, and so smaller light-weight bags can be a better alternative. Either way, the size and weight is certainly something to note.

Aside from this, it's also worth checking how many dividers the golf bag has for golf clubs. The number of dividers the bags have for golf clubs is one of the biggest variations between golf bags. For those who take more than a half set out onto the golf course there more dividers for golf clubs will likely be required.

In addition to this, it's also worth noting how many additional pockets the golf bag may have. A good number of additional pockets may be required, not just for golf balls and golf tees, but for bottles, wallets, and additional golf gloves. In this respect, a golf bag with a number of pockets, or some large pockets, is something to look for as well.

These are just a few things to consider when looking for a new golf bag. Check whether the bag is a men or ladies bag, check whether it is a cart or stand bag, consider the size and weight of the bag, note how many dividers the bag includes, and also check how many pockets the golf bag includes.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Mountain Golf Courses

Have you ever played golf up a mountain? Probably not, and it should be noted that very few golf courses are actually located on mountains. But then there are a wide variety of great golf courses that still have scenic mountain settings. Those are courses that sit right next to, or within the proximity of, mountain ranges so that they are integral part of the course landscape. These are a few of the more famous mountain golf courses to note.  

Banff Springs Golf Club

The Rocky Mountains at Banff
One of the most highly rated golf courses in Canada is the one at Banff Springs. This has a fantastic mountain setting with the course located beside the Canadian Rockies. The Stanley Thomson course at this resort is set among a forest of pine trees, as well as the Bow River which runs alongside its holes. But its the towering mountain located right beside this course which dominates the landscape.  

From the black tees the course stretches some 7,000 yards. Its most famous hole is most probably the par-3 fourth hole. That is a 192 yard hole which includes a lake that separates the green from the tee. The Canadian Rockies tower above the hole which is rated among the top 18 in the game. But the course is not a one hole wonder, and includes a great stretch of holes along its back nine as well.  

Troon North  

At the Troon North club, in Arizona, there are two 18 – hole courses. Those are the Mountain Course and Pinnacle Course, which may sound familiar as I might have added a blog post about them previously. Those are desert courses which are set alongside the foothills of Pinnacle Peak Mountain, and the Troon Mountain and McDowell Mountains are also nearby.

Royal County Down

Hey, this one might be familiar too! Check out the last blog post for further details. And of course this is another that has a fantastic mountainous landscape. There it's the majestic Mountains of Mourne that provide the backdrop for this course. One of the top ranked golf courses in N Ireland, this is one with an exciting compilation of holes.  

Gallery at Dove Mountain

The Gallery Golf Club North Course is a modern golf course located in Arizona. Alongside this golf course is the minor mountain range of the Tortolita Mountains which rise some 4,652 ft. The two golf courses, which include the North Course, have considerable average elevation of approximately 2,875 yards.

There's considerable desert landscape here, and the course's holes meander through two rugged canyons. It's ranked among the top golf courses in Arizona, and also boasts one of the longest holes in the United States. That's the one which extends some 725 yards, and there's already a post about that hole on the blog.

La Quinta Mountain Course

The Santa Rosa Mountains
The Quarry at La Quinta is a scenic 18-hole golf course. It's a golf course that has relatively level fairways. Nestled along the Santa Rosa Mountains, in California, its holes flirt with the mountains. Holes such as the second and 14th  both lie at the steps of the surrounding mountains. Its 16th hole includes an island green surrounded by rocky desert landscape.

Those are a few of the more famous mountain golf courses. Here there's some great mountain landscapes alongside the courses. 

Sunday, February 03, 2013

The Top Ranked Golf Courses in Northern Ireland

There are some great golf courses in N Ireland. Golf Digest Ireland has ranked the top 100 courses in Ireland, a few of which are among the top ranked within Britain. These are the highest ranked N Ireland courses in Golf Digest Ireland's rankings.

Portstewart Strand  

Portstewart Strand course is one of the top ranked courses in N Ireland. The course is set among gigantic sand dunes alongside the Inishowen peninsula and Causeway Coast. From its championship tees it is a 6,912 yard golf course. There's plenty of great holes at this course, but it's the first opening hole, a downhill 425 yard par-4, that is perhaps the most exciting.  

Mount Juliet Golf Course

This golf course is ranked at 15th within their rankings. The course is located in a country estate just outside Thomastown. It extends up to 7,112 yards, although this can be more like 5,554 yards from other tees. Mount Juliet has a wooded layout with holes that have plenty of trees and rolling fairways. Water also comes into play on eight of the course's holes. The most notable holes on this course are its finishing holes that include lake alongside their fairways and greens.

Royal Portrush G.C.

The Royal Portrush Dunluce Course is one of N Ireland's foremost golf courses that is approximately 7,143 yards. This is located at the Causeway Coast, close to Dunluce Castle. It is more famous as the one golf course in N Ireland that has hosted a major golf championship, that of the British Open.

Among its signatures holes is the fourth. That's a long par-4 golf hole that extends some 480 yards. Several bunkers run alongside its undulating fairway, and the green is located between two small sand hills.

Royal County Down G.C.

The top ranked golf course in Ireland, and beyond the United States, is that of Royal County Down. This is located below the majestic Mountains of Mourne. Combined with the Dundram Bay coastline it is a scenic golf course with great landscapes. Royal County Down G.C includes an exhilarating front nine routed near the sea which have dunes that rise some 40 feet above you.  

The ninth 486 yard par-4 is among the course's highlights. Here you play from an elevated tee atop a hilltop, with the fairway some 80 feet below it. As such, it provides an ideal vantage point for the surrounding landscape. Along the fairway there is a wide corridor which sits between a couple of sand hills. It is ranked among the great 18 holes in the sport.

These courses are great venues for golf. They are among the top ranked courses in Golf Digest's rankings. For the full rankings check out this page.