It was through the power of Twitter that I became aware of Tony Dear and his work, and I can safely say my golfing knowledge has been improved as a result of making his golfing acquaintance. Tony was formerly a senior editor at Today’s Golfer magazine and has had his work published in over 40 publications across the world. I recently discovered his book ‘The History of Golf in 50 holes’ which is a fascinating look at how golf and golf course architecture has evolved. It is acutely observed and has real humour. I thoroughly recommend it!
If you aren’t already following Tony on Twitter (@tonyjdear) I would urge you to do so.
Here are his favourite courses:
It's so easy to overthink this. You feel dirty for leaving out certain courses, obligated to get a good geographical spread, and compelled to have an appropriate breakdown of types - links, heathland, parkland, etc. You think about places you believe 'deserve' a mention for whatever reason, and even those you think people expect you to include. And do you owe anyone a favour, or feel the need to be different, quirky, edgy?
Nah, screw that. These are the ten courses I enjoy(ed) playing the most and which I most want to play tomorrow.
Any course where you play a number of memorable rounds with your dad is going to be special. Combine those moments with amazing views of the Cornish coast, and ground that never fails to amuse and entertain and you have an unbeatable recipe. The sun always shines on St. Enodoc.
St Enodoc Website, Golf Empire, Golf Club Atlas
EDEN COURSE, ST ANDREWS
I’d never say I preferred the Eden over the Old, or the New for that matter, but it was the first course I played in town and my first trip round a proper links. I loved it from first to last and sincerely hope to return some day.
St Andrews Website, Graylyn Loomis
If ten golfers were asked to name their favourite hole at Waterville, you might get ten different answers. Late summer evenings here are surely a fair approximation of heaven.
Waterville Golf Links, Youtube, Planet Golf
David McLay Kidd’s central Washington masterpiece is extra special for me because the name was actually my idea, and I got to play it with David, his wife Tara, and perhaps my favourite golf writer – Ron Whitten - on opening day. It’s one of those courses, like Waterville, with numerous candidates for ‘favourite hole’. I could never play Gamble too often.
Gamble Sands, Youtube, golferswest.com
Twenty years ago, Pulborough’s head professional gave me, my two fellow assistants, and our boss permission to play a fourball. We knew the club was strictly foursomes, but because our boss was one of the most highly-respected PGA pros in Sussex and we’d been given permission by the club’s pro, we assumed we’d be okay. We were halfway down the 1st fairway when the club secretary came thundering out of the clubhouse and, purple-faced, demanded to know what the ‘bloody hell we thought we were doing’. We swiftly picked up two balls and carried on.
I understand the club is a lot friendlier and more welcoming these days, but West Sussex would still be one of the most enjoyable rounds in the world if a fuming secretary approached you on every hole. Heathland magic.
UK Golf Guy review, West Sussex Golf Club
I played 36 or 54 holes a day here for a week with a couple of mates in about 1990, and never stopped laughing. I’ve not seen DJ Russell’s changes, but back then it was just hilarious. So many blind holes and crazy shots. I loved every second.
The Machrie Website, Financial Times, Top100golfcourses.com
As a member of the Liverpool University golf team in the early ‘90s, Hoylake was my home course for a while. I’d take the train out to the Wirral most days, and get back to Lime St. late. It's not the most eye-catching links in the British Isles, but it is full of sturdy, exacting holes that grow on you on after a few rounds. I always look forward to going back.
UK Golf Guy review, Planet Golf
A big thanks to Tony for sharing these. Next up, the choices of one of the very best golf journalists in the game today, Eamon Lynch.