News & Opinion

Keeping score just got a lot more interesting

A sampling from the detritus of a lifetime spent playing and covering the game, which author Gary Van Sickle figures has come to 1,404 courses played … and counting.

Andrew Georgiou, a South African touring pro, creates the GolfPlayed app so that golfers can log our course conquests, one new track at a time. Chances are, he'll soon have your number

What’s your number?

I’m not asking for the numbers you have on your scorecard, I’m asking for the number of scorecards you have.

There’s more than one way to keep score in golf. Some golfers track their statistics or how many rounds they play. Others, such as myself, keep track of how many golf courses we play. It’s a way of “collecting” golf courses.

No matter how many courses you have played, that number is the equivalent of one ice cube on the Titanic’s deck compared to the world’s 39,000-plus courses. Nobody can play them all. The biggest number I’m aware of belongs to Terry Inslee, a retired Missouri sales rep, who had played 3,050 courses as of 2018, when Golf Digest mentioned him. It’s hard to imagine anyone getting much past the 3,000 mark.

That total is staggering. That’s playing 100 different courses a year for 30 years. Playing even 100 courses requires some effort; 500 is a considerable feat; more than 1,000 takes a decade or two.

So, what’s your number?

You probably have no idea and no apparent way to figure it out. Don’t worry. Professional golfer Andrew Georgiou has got you covered with GolfPlayed, an addictive and fun new app.

GolfPlayed app creator Andrew Georgiou with Gary Player and dad Tony Georgiou
Andrew Georgiou (from left), the creator of the GolfPlayed app, with fellow South African Gary Player and Georgiou’s father, Tony

GolfPlayed provides a thorough digital listing of global golf courses, categorized by country or, in America’s case, by state. Simply go through the alphabetized listing of, say, Ohio, and click on the courses you played. Do that for every state and for every country and, bingo: GolfPlayed computes your number.

Georgiou is a South Africa native who played college golf at Columbus (Ga.) State University, where he was a three-time NCAA Division II All-American. He played on just about every known professional tour and qualified for the 2012 British Open. He’s 34, semi-retired from tour play and looking for a different golf gig.

He was in Swaziland (now known as Eswatini), which borders South Africa, to play a tournament a few years ago. While the head of the host family he was staying with poured himself a glass of Jack Daniel’s, Georgiou noticed a large fishbowl filled with logoed ball markers from courses the man had played. His host proudly explained that he had played 187 courses, then pulled out a spreadsheet to prove it.

When his host asked for his number, Georgiou said he had no idea. “You’re a pro golfer. You’re basically living my dream, and you don’t know where you’ve played?” his incredulous host asked.

Georgiou promised to figure it out. The famous courses he played were easy to remember: Augusta National, Pebble Beach, Cypress Point, Royal Lytham & St. Annes. However, he got stuck after his list grew to 100. He searched for an app or a website for help. “The only things I could find were for GPS or handicaps, and I didn’t care about those,” Georgiou said.

So, an idea for an app was born. So far, there are 30,000 members of GolfPlayed, which is free. Georgiou’s goal is 1 million members and to use that database to turn it into a profitable business. A matching website is in the works.

GolfPlayed app
The GolfPlayed app

“My dad asked me how many people I’d played golf with,” Georgiou said. “I had no idea, but it must be 3,000 or 4,000. He said, ‘Imagine if you could track every person you played with and could contact them all.’ That’s when the idea hit home.”

That’s why there is more to GolfPlayed than just counting courses. Users can list playing partners, rounds played and add other things such as scorecard information, photos, videos and comments. Think Facebook for golfers, only better.

Georgiou knows his number now: 410. But he’s more interested in a different number. “Slowly but surely, I’m remembering who I played with,” he said. “I’m getting in touch with people and saying, ‘Hey, remember when we played at Victoria Golf Club in Vancouver? Who was the fourth in our group?’ I’m rekindling this flame.”

Naturally, there are lists and leaderboards on GolfPlayed. They add a competitive element of fun. I was shocked when I entered my lengthy list of courses played on GolfPlayed (which took several days to complete) and got a response from him congratulating me for ranking No. 2 among all GolfPlayed members. My number is 1,404. The leader is the late David Schlaff at 1,552. He was a lifetime member at Dearborn (Mich.) Country Club who died in January at age 72. I have at least one former travel-writing colleague whose list is in the 1,700s. He hasn’t joined the app yet.

Another part of GolfPlayed’s fun is that celebrity names are sprinkled among the leaderboard. Former Ryder Cup player Ronan Rafferty ranks fourth, with 1,067 courses played. Former PGA Tour player Dennis Paulson is ninth, at 680. Tour player Brendon de Jonge is 23rd, at 488.

GolfPlayed’s numbers can be sorted by country, too. Who has played the most courses in Australia, for example? Philip Barber, 258. In Ireland, it’s Huntly Lauder, 127. In Bangladesh, there’s a four-way tie at 1.

The more you crunch the numbers, the more fun this app gets.

I left the most appetizing morsel until now: The menu page features a “map” option. Clicking on it gets you a map of the world, with red pins placed on every course you have played. This is the coolest part of GolfPlayed. Seeing my blank continents of South America, Australia and Africa makes me want to travel and plant more red pins.

Users can change the pin colors to represent special highlights. You can change your red pins to green to mark courses where you made a hole-in-one – I did that for all seven of mine, including one at Hillside, the course next door to England’s Royal Birkdale. You can customize other colored pins for things such as double eagles, course records, whatever you want. Courses where you won bets? Courses where you competed in tournaments? Courses where you had sex? Your number for the latter is 0, I hope.

Georgiou splits time between South Africa and the Atlanta area. His app apparently is more popular so far in his home country because GolfPlayed’s list shows members have played a total of 183,356 courses in South Africa compared with 125,278 in the U.S. The United Kingdom is a distant third, at 26,204.

Eventually, Georgiou wants GolfPlayed to become an interactive community. He hopes to expand the search process so members can figure out who has played the most courses by certain designers – Donald Ross, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player – or the most Open rota courses or U.S. Open venues, among others.

“You can do some really cool things with this,” Georgiou said.

He’s definitely going to need more red pins.

Sign up to receive the Morning Read newsletter, along with Where To Golf Next and The Equipment Insider.