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In 2011 I first published my list of my top twenty-five favorite golf courses.  I’ve updated it a few times since then, the last time in 2014.  Now that I’m back from a week of playing golf on east- and north coasts of Ireland, I thought it appropriate to update it again.

Northern Ireland’s visually stunning Ardglass debuted no. 2 on my list.

Of the nine courses I played on this trip, seven made the list:

  1. Cruden Bay (Cruden Bay, Scotland). If there’s a more fun course on the planet I’d love to know what it is.
  2. NEW Ardglass (Downpatrick, Northern Ireland).  As visually stunning as any course I’ve ever seen.
  3. North Berwick (West)(North Berwick, Scotland). Back nine is the most enjoyable nine holes I’ve ever played.
  4. NEW Royal County Down (Newcastle, Northern Ireland.  As of this writing, Golf Digest has it ranked no. 1 in the world.
  5. Prestwick (Prestwick, Scotland.) Very eccentric and about as historic as it gets.
  6. Royal Dornoch (Dornoch, Scotland.). Other-worldly.
  7. NEW The Island (Donabate, Ireland).   A hidden gem located just outside Dublin.
  8. Muirfield (East Lothian, Scotland) Probably the strongest course I’ve played (Portstewart a close second).
  9. Turnberry (Ayshire, Scotland.) Has the beauty and course quality, but lacks Cruden Bay and North Berwick’s fun factor.
  10. Bandon Dunes (Bandon, OR). Probably not as great as its Pacific Dunes sibling, but considerably more enjoyable.
  11. St. Andrews (Old)(St. Andrews, Scotland.) Makes my top ten because it is the Old Course, but truth be told its true greatness escaped me.
  12. Tobacco Road (Sanford, NC).  As visually stimulating as any course I can remember, I consider it the Prestwick of the South.
  13. Chambers Bay (Tacoma, WA). Too bad I can only afford to play it once a year max.
  14. Los Angeles CC (North) (Los Angeles, CA). Played LACC in November 2013 for the first time since 1993. (More.) Every bit as great as I remembered.
  15. Pacific Dunes (Bandon, OR). The best course I’d ever played until I went to Scotland.
  16. NEW Royal Portrush (Portrush, Northern Ireland).  No. 16 is the toughest par 3 I’ve ever seen.
  17. NEW Castlerock (Mussenden)(Coleraine, Northern Ireland).  Not objectively “great,” but an excellent everyday course.
  18. NEW County Louth (Baltray, Ireland).  Ditto what I said about Castlerock.
  19. Gamble Sands (Brewster, WA).  Voted Best New Course of 2014 by Golf Digest.
  20. Pinehurst No. 2 (Pinehurst, NC).   Only course I’ve ever played that didn’t have rough.
  21. Royal Aberdeen (Aberdeen, Scotland.) Not as memorable as many of the other Scottish courses, but I remember it enough to know it was outstanding.
  22. NEW Portmarnock (Dublin, Ireland).  First “official” course on our 2017 Ireland trip.
  23. Pine Needles (Southern Pines, NC).  Site of three U.S. Women’s Opens and the perfect and prototypical Southern pine-filled course.
  24. The Valley Club at Montecito. (Montecito, CA.)  Course is very good, but the upper-crust vibe is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. (More.)
  25. The Dormie Club (West End, NC).  Right up there with Muirfield and Portstewart in the “big boy” golf course category.

Knocked off the list: Royal Oaks CC (Vancouver, WA); Musashigaoka (near Tokyo, Japan); Bel Air (Los Angeles, CA); Victoria CC (Victoria, BC); Bandon Trails (Bandon, OR); Old MacDonald (Bandon, OR) and Predator Ridge (Kelowna, BC).

When the likes of Bel Air and Old MacDonald fall out of my top 25, and Portstewart and Royal Dublin never made it, you know I’ve lived a pretty charmed life.

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Another year, another Glendale Invitational.

We didn’t do much this year.  Our Friday round of 38 points had us dead last in our flight.  Our Saturday 72 was good enough to get us back to the middle of the pack — and save us a good deal of money we looked certain to lose after about the fourth hole.

We did manage to finish third in the horse race — good for about $60/each.  And, of course, we were able to kill it in the matching shirts department:

After our disasterous 38-point performance on Friday (I shot a cool 82 sporting a 5 handicap)

 

Saturday’s 72-point total saved us a lot of money (I shot 76).

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Another year. another Greenspan Cup in the books.  This was the 20th annual edition of the tournament I founded in 1998.  I went 5-0 this year.  Good, but not good enough for my Seattle Team.  We lost a close one — 15 1/2 — 14 1/2.

A few photos:

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Yesterday my buddy Peter Fessler and I officially kicked off the 2017 golf season.  The location — Chambers Bay.  The time: 8:42 am.

We may want to rethink the tee time for next year.  Because it was cold.  Very cold.   Winds blew from the north at 25-30 mph and they were, predictably, quite chilly.  By about the 2nd hole I declared I’d be happy with a 90 in the conditions.  I struck the ball fantastically but pitched and putted like a blind man.  My 85 beat my goal by 5 shots but was considerably worse than it should have been had I been able to putt and chip at all.

Still, a good day with a good friend.  Things could be worse.

 

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Just back from a boys trip to Gamble Sands with friends Tim Smith, Bruce Bailey and Gavin Boden.  54 holes in 30 hours.  75-82-75.  Not bad, but not going pro anytime soon.  A few photos:

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Another July, another Greenspan Cup.

The site this year was the Reno-Tahoe area.  Not my first choice, but the trip turned out great.

The Seattle Team rolled to a 20-16 victory over the World Team, our tenth win in nineteen annual outings.  We won by five despite being short Joel Aro, who made the trip but was unable to make the bell due to a back injury.

As for me, I went 4-1 despite some less than stellar play, especially on and around the greens. I finally got it going on Sunday, though: my 79 powered me to a 4&3 singles win over Tim O’Brien.

A few photos:

 

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Another July, another Glendale Member-Guest for Jeff Benezra and me.

And unfortunately, another tournament we didn’t win.

Our first day total of 41 was good, as was our second day 70 and 111 overall score.  But “good” doesn’t win trophies.  We ended up sixth place in our 24-team flight — good for $125 in pro shop credit.   We also won a ton of bets, enough to pay for the tournament.

On the bright side, we won the Friday night putting contest.  That was our second win in six years and was good enough for another $375 each.

Not bad work if you can get it.

 

 

 

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