A Ridiculously Easy Way To Enjoy Golf More

Here's more from our managing editor, Tim Gavrich...

Have you ever read a book you loved so much, you sought out every other book by that author?

I recommend approaching golf the same way.

See, there are probably certain types of courses you enjoy more than others -- classic/minimalist or more modern styling; bigger, undulating greens, or smaller and flatter ones -- and playing them is going to maximize your good time.

Here’s a quick, handy intro to some architectural styles and the types of courses to seek out, no matter where your travels take you.

Jonesing for a Good Test
Do you like more traditional courses? Ones where pretty much everything is right in front of you? Tree-lined fairways, straightforward strategy—a fairway bunker here, a couple greenside bunkers there, generous but usually gently contoured greens that will hold good shots? If it was designed by a Jones—Robert Trent Jones, Sr. Robert Trent Jones, Jr. or Rees Jones—chances are you’ll be in heaven. One of RTJ Sr.’s most famous courses is the Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, which you can play if you stay at certain area hotels. Elsewhere, Jr.’s CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, California is an exquisite course at the center of a luxe resort. And Rees is responsible for a number of top courses, such as Waldorf Astoria Golf Club in Orlando.

A Taste for the Classics
Golden-Age names like Donald Ross, A.W. Tillinghast, C.B. Macdonald and William Flynn are usually more closely associated with old-line private clubs, but some of their best work is accessible to the public. Classic courses such as theirs often feature the opportunity to run approach shots onto greens, which make them particularly popular among female and shorter-hitting male players. Pinehurst No. 2’s status as one of the world’s great courses is well-known and, naturally, is one of Donald Ross’ best. Ross’ course at Bedford Springs Resort is another excellent track that was also worked on by Tillinghast. Macdonald is perhaps best known for the ultra-private Chicago Golf Club and National Golf Links of America, but you can play his recently restored Old White (TPC) course at The Greenbrier and experience massive, undulating greens and trench-like bunkers.

Modern Marvelous – Minimalism and the Others
The explosion of golf course openings in the last 40 years or so gave rise to a number of different styles of courses. If you like holes that have been sculpted in grand, complex fashion, then seek out the courses of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tom Fazio. Pete Dye belongs in a category of his own, due to the almost lunar landscape of some of his courses, like Whistling Straits and The Ocean Course. On the other hand, there is a more recent movement among the likes of Tom Doak, Gil Hanse and Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, whose courses are more subtle and harken back more to the aforementioned Golden Age architects. Bandon Dunes and Streamsong Resort are havens of this type of golf, and Gil Hanse’s newly-opened Blue Monster at Trump National Doral has received great reviews as well.

What kinds of courses do you like to play? Do you seek them out or designs by certain architects?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine, USAToday.com, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.
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Bandon Crossings has stay and play. Just call the course and inquire about the motels in Bandon that participate. I've played the Bandon Dunes courses for several years in January. Great value and interesting weather, but always doable. Stay at the resort for best prices. "If there's no wind, there's no golf." No whining allowed!

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I enjoy Dick Wilson courses who, along with his disciple Joe Lee, created some excellent golf tests - the Blue Monster at Doral and Arnie's BayHill among them. The courses aren't gimmicky. You can see the problems from the tee. The greens are well guarded. Always fun to play, especially if you can find some that haven't been made over too much.

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For those who like Robert Trent Jones courses, come to Prattville, Alabama. You can stay at the Marriott Legends Conference Center. There are three Championship courses right there, each with a different personality from Links with no water, to traditional with six water holes to more challenging with 12 water holes. An hour or so north puts you in Birmingham with three fabulous courses. An hour east in Auburn are two more championship courses while 45 minutes south are three championship nines in Greenville. Research the RTJ Golf Trail in Alabama and you will see some of the best public golf available at some of the best values around. Come experience some Southern Hospitality.

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I like architects like Raymond Floyd, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer. More player friendly and demanding but enjoyable to play any day.

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Recently played the Peninsula in Gulf Shores, AL that is designed by Earl Stone. It is a most enjoyable course to play. In researching Earl Stone, he made the comment that he designs golf course for the bogey golfer. Right on! I've not play any of his other courses, but will seek them out and try to play one or two. If you have not played any of his courses, you will certainly enjoy them...at least the Peninsula is now one of my favorites. Liked you video and enjoy your e-mails.

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Have played a couple of courses by Severiano Ballesteros. Always great layout and adding to that, six of everything. Six par 3's, six par 4's and six par 5's.

Best courses are Buenavista on Tenerife and Royal Obidos outside Lisbon. If you have the chance - play a Seve!

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No one better than Tom Fazio. His courses are playable, fair, and enjoyable.

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I play an early Pete Dye course (Tamarack CC, Shiloh IL) almost every week and enjoy his designs but my favorite group are those by Nicklaus. His designs have both a risk and reward that requires thinking and strategy instead of grip and rip.

Planning the path around the course and choosing where to attack and where not keeps one actively involved in the game.
However, tossing in variety of different designs allows one to stretch one's game and get out of using the same club set all of the time.

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I love the classics and traditional courses. The classics offer a taste of the early designers and styles. The traditionals offer the new challenges like more water, sand and mounds. It is good to mix it up on vacation and get out of the norm of your regular course of play.

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I enjoy every golf outing. I always look forward playing a new course style such as links, desert or mountain. Being from the Boston area I have become a big fan of Cornish, Mungeam, and Silva. There are many courses in the New England area that were designed by this firm or one of it's members. These men use strategically placed bunkers and berms to guide you around the course. They offer ample risk reward choices and they end each hole with a nice green complex.
Recently, my brother-in-law and I had the opportunity to play the Highland course at The Quechee Club in Vermont. This was a first play for both of us, Standing on the first tee we were staring at a large bunker. The fairway wound around the right side of the bunker and disappeared. Knowing that this was a Cornish, Mungeam and Silva design gave me great confidence in knowing that if I was able to carry the bunker with my tee ball that I would be left with a good 2nd shot. This was in fact the case.
Knowing the designer of a course certainly can make for a more enjoyable round, especially when playing a course for the first time

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A Ridiculously Easy Way To Enjoy Golf More