Pat Goss is the Director of Golf and Player Development at Northwestern University and coach to, among others, ex-world number 1 Luke Donald.
I met Pat a few years ago, when he and Luke collaborated with the writers of Freakonomics to look at applying behavioural psychology to help the average golfer score better. I was delighted to be one of those average golfers, although my handicap is up 1.2 since the experiment! Pat has a contagious enthusiasm for the game which shines through. Over to him:
For me to do this list is a bit of an embarrassment. To grow up playing municipal facilities around Crystal Lake, IL and end up doing a list of favorite golf courses you’ve played while leaving off Pine Valley, Seminole and Augusta seems unbelievable. The game has been incredibly good to me! There are plenty of great courses I haven’t played and look forward to seeing, but based on what I’ve been fortunate enough to play here goes...
1. CYPRESS POINT
Everything about this experience is incredible. 17-mile drive, the Pacific Ocean, and Monterey are all sense heightening. When I first played Cypress Point I expected the whole day would be playing a great course, but you’d basically be waiting to get to 15 through 17. However, that wasn’t the case. I’ve never played a course that played out in multiple different scenes and built anticipation like Cypress. Playing down 1 you see the ocean and the anticipation begins, and then you play an incredible set of holes through pines that makes you feel like you’re in North Carolina or at a Heathland Course. Then, on 7 you turn the corner to play an amazing set of holes through dunes that gives you a lot of options and risk/reward. Then, you play some really strong golf holes, 11-14, that head you out to the beckoning ocean. You finally arrive and finish the most spectacular scene in golf as you play 15-17. Truly an incredible experience and great day.
Graylyn Loomis, Golf Digest, Playing the Top 100
2. NORTH BERWICK GOLF CLUB
Absolute pure enjoyment to play. The quirkiness is fun and includes multiple stone walls, and as someone who loves the history of architecture, to play what’s credited as the original Redan hole is really cool. It was also enjoyable and interesting to play a completely different version of the Biarritz than we see in the US. I knew the North Berwick version of the Biarritz was a good challenge when my caddy, who is a good player himself, told me from a wedge distance that my only chance to hit it on the green was to run a 6-iron. I love that stuff. I’m also a sucker for any place that has a kids course and a charming town.
UK Golf Guy review, Scottish Golf History, Planet Golf
3. LAHINCH GOLF CLUB
I loved everything about the experience and couldn’t have been more excited to play two original Old Tom Morris designed holes. Who doesn’t love a partially blind par-3! Again, fun, quirky and charming - a hospitable place.
UK Golf Guy Review, Graylyn Loomis
4. ROYAL DORNOCH GOLF CLUB
After a long day of coaching at Castle Stuart, I drove up and arrived after 6 pm, teeing off at 6:30 with one of the professionals from the shop. We had the course to ourselves and finished just before dark. Playing until 10 pm on a beautiful Scottish summer evening was part of the charm.
top100golfcourses.com, telegraph.co.uk, Graylyn Loomis. UK Golf Guy Review
5. SHINNECOCK HILLS
One trend you’ll catch on my list is that hard isn’t necessarily fun, in my book. However, Shinnecock is the exception to that, which probably further shows what an amazing place it is. First, to sit on the porch at the clubhouse with the expanse of the course below you, seeing nearly every hole, really gets you excited for the day. It may be the best and strongest test of golf I’ve played.
UK Golf Guy Review, Golf Monthly History
6. SWINLEY FOREST GOLF CLUB
I had always been excited to play the Heathland courses around London, especially knowing their history and influence on the Golden Age of Architecture. Swinley was my first course on a recent Heathland trips, and it blew me away. It was a beautiful walk with incredible bunkers, strong ground movement around the greens, interesting features and the purple of the heather. An amazing day.
UK Golf Guy Review, Swinley Forest Website, Graylyn Loomis
7. CHICAGO GOLF CLUB
The oldest 18-hole course in America with wonderful template holes and the history of CB MacDonald and Seth Raynor as the architects is another great experience. Incredible vistas throughout the course, beautiful blowing fescue (which they’ve worked diligently to keep playable), strong green complexes and great bunkering make for a good test and truly enjoyable walk. The understated aspect of the club is also part of the experience and speaks to the club’s commitment to being a great golf club of historical significance.
Fried Egg, Chicagology
8. MAIDSTONE CLUB
Since the work Coore & Crenshaw did this really jumped my list. Maybe the best dunes in America, sandy and fast ground, and the location right on the ocean make for a great day. Part of what makes Maidstone fun is the whole experience. Walking by the pool with the cabanas, lunch at the beach club (perhaps with a Southsider), the ocean access, as well as a great logo add to the atmosphere.
Maidstone Club, Graylyn Loomis
9. THE CLUBS OF THE NORTH SHORE OF CHICAGO
From Evanston GC on the south to Shoreacres on the north. Just load in Evanston on your google maps, put it on satellite imagery, and start dragging north up Lake Michigan to Lake Bluff, and you’ll be blown away by the sheer amount of golf courses. This is one of the strongest concentrations of great private clubs in the US. All in incredible condition with a great history of designers including Donald Ross, Harry Colt, Seth Raynor, and Charles Alison. There are too many great courses to single out one!
10. TWIN PONDS GC AND CRYSTAL WOODS GC
Twin Ponds was a 9-hole, par-28 with a range, putting green and small chipping area that is now a Home Depot. Crystal Woods is a family owned public facility in Woodstock, IL. Without the junior accessibility provided by these two facilities, and without the support of John Swenson at Twin Ponds and John and Jay Craig at Crystal Woods, I wouldn’t have been exposed to golf. I had many great days of golf at both courses and couldn’t be more indebted for the opportunity these courses provided me. These two courses are why I’m so passionate about municipal and accessible golf. Golf needs more of these.
Crystal Woods Golf Club
Many thanks Pat for your selections. Tomorrow we will hear from the brilliant Geoff Shackleford.