Keeping Score

2018 In Review: The Best of the Fun Meters

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Royal County Down Golf Club's par-4 16th hole helped contribute to the course's 9.5 Fun Meter rating in 2018. [Photo: Craig Smith]

SAND VALLEY GOLF RESORT [MAMMOTH DUNES]
Location
: Nekoosa, Wisc.
Course architect: David McLay Kidd
Play because ...: Many golfers will never get the opportunity to play a better designed course. The combination of experience, enjoyment and price — compared to other comparable properties — makes this a must play. Mammoth Dunes will make anyone revise their bucket list.
Rating: 9.8
 

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The No. 8 hole at Sweetens Cove Golf Course. [Photo: Sweetens Cove Golf Course]

SWEETENS COVE GOLF COURSE
Location: South Pittsburg, Tenn.
Course architects: Tad King and Rob Collins 
Play because ...: Few places in American golf capture the game’s essential elements as well as Sweetens Cove. It’s walkable, affordable, scenic and downright fun. What’s not to like? Ignore the grass parking lot, gravel drive, tiny shed/pro shop and lack of a practice range or clubhouse. Sweetens Cove was built as a monument to pure golf – walking golf – with no attention, energy or expense diverted to the game’s frivolous modern accoutrements. Even the scorecard, a 4¾-by-6-inch two-color design, emphasizes pragmatism. 
Rating: 9.8

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The No. 5 hole at Casa de Campo Resort and Villas' Teeth of the Dog. [Photo: Casa de Campo Resort and Villas]

CASA DE CAMPO RESORT AND VILLAS [TEETH OF THE DOG]
Location: La Romana, Dominican Republic. 
Course architect: Pete Dye
Play because ...: This world-ranked golf course combines the playability of a resort course with the stunning views of the Caribbean Sea. This is a golf course that could be played every day and it could never get old, regardless of the skill level. A required caddie will position shots that remove the temptation to hug the coastline more than necessary. Take a camera and be sure to snap plenty of pictures.
Rating: 9.5

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The No. 10 hole at French Lick Resort's Pete Dye Course. [Photo: Ken May Photography]

FRENCH LICK RESORT [PETE DYE COURSE]
Location: 
French Lick, Ind.
Course architect: Pete Dye
Play because …: You can. This is one of those experiences that fall into the category of “once in a lifetime.” Carved into the highest elevations of Hoosier National Forest, the golf is almost as spectacular as the big skies and panoramic vistas. The course will test every bit of your game and will take all of your breath away. Take a picture or two … at just about every hole.
Rating: 9.5

ROYAL COUNTY DOWN GOLF CLUB
Location: Newcastle, Northern Ireland
Course architect: Old Tom Morris  
Play because ...: The great memories will last a lifetime. You’ll also be walking into history, playing a golf course that was first designed by Old Tom Morris for a modest sum. The golf course was originally planned as a way to increase use of the new train service to Newcastle, a small seaside resort in Northern Ireland that today still has fewer than 10,000 residents. Instead, the golf course has become a worldwide attraction, having been host to championship golf since 1899.
Rating: 9.5

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The No. 18 hole at Hope Valley Country Club. [Photo: Hope Valley Country Club]

HOPE VALLEY COUNTRY CLUB
Location: Durham, N.C.
Course architect: Donald Ross
Play because ...: This is Donald Ross at his best. The 1926 Ross design is still intact and plays considerably longer that its 6,720 yards from the tips because practically every hole moves through an up-and-down terrain. As usual, the Ross-designed greens are the defense mechanism for the course with fast-paced, undulating putting surfaces surrounded by penal bunkers or rollouts.  
Rating: 9.5

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The No. 11 hole at Pinehurst Resort's No. 4. [Photo: Pinehurst Resort]

PINEHURST NO. 4
Location: Pinehurst, N.C.  
Course architect: Gil Hanse
Play because ...: The new No. 4 is really like no other layout among the more than three dozen courses scattered across Moore County, combining up-and-down movements, ragged waste areas, a large lake, sizeable green complexes and the golden touch of Hanse.
“As he did with The Cradle short course, Gil far exceeded my expectations as to what could have been done on that ground, the creativity, the way to visualize what’s not there,” said Pinehurst Resort president Tom Pashley. “People ask me how involved was Pinehurst in giving feedback on No. 4? Well, I could never in my wildest dreams envisioned what Gil has done with No. 4. We left it all up to one of the best in the business … and it’s just remarkable.”
Rating: 9.4

Golf Course
Sixty-five percent of the respondents to a Sports and Leaisure Research Group survey answered that they believe golf is a safe activity during the pandemic.

The Nos. 15, 16 and 17 holes at Hammock Beach Resort's Ocean Course. [Hammock Beach Resort]

HAMMOCK BEACH RESORT [OCEAN COURSE]
Location:
 Palm Coast, Fla.
Course architect: Jack Nicklaus
Play because …: For a state with 1,350 miles of coastline, Florida features surprisingly few seaside courses. From the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico, the condo and hotel developers beat the course architects to most of the prime beachfront property. At Hammock Beach, a happy medium exists between the condos and single-family residences and the golf holes, resulting in one of the state’s most awe-inspiring golf experiences. Hammock Beach, which is part of the Salamander Group, features 36 holes, including Tom Watson’s nearby Conservatory Course.
Rating: 9.4

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The No. 3 hole at The Course at Sewanee. [Photo: Steve Harmon]

THE COURSE AT SEWANEE
Location: Sewanee, Tenn.
Course architect: The Right Rev. Albion W. Knight
Play because ...: As much as the U.S. Golf Association has tried to popularize the notion to “play nine,” nothing hooks the time-sensitive golfer more than a well-designed and -maintained mountaintop routing. The Course at Sewanee unfurls as an enjoyable walk on rolling terrain, with each tee just steps from the previous green. This nine-holer is so much fun that you will want to play it a second time to appreciate the varied angles and approaches from alternate tees. Hanse offers a sporty mix of par 4s, including the drivable fourth, and takes advantage of the Cumberland Plateau’s long views with two short-to-mid-iron par 3s. Golfweek magazine ranks Sewanee as the No. 2 public-access course in Tennessee, behind only another recent nine-hole revival, Sweetens Cove, just down the mountain in South Pittsburg.
Rating: 9.4


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