Golfers' Choice celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, an impressive milestone by any measure.
Few brands boast enough staying power to last a decade in the golf industry. The good news is Golfers' Choice has never been more relevant to golfers than it is today. Green fees continue to rise in this post-pandemic golf boom. Many golfers are wondering: Are the courses I'm playing delivering a good value for what they're charging?
Our Golfers' Choice rankings help answer that very question. Golfers' Choice wasn't built to be a bucket-list ranking system like the other golf publication Top 100 lists out there. Golf course architecture isn't always the dominant part of the conversation when golfers submit a review on GolfPass.
They're looking at the total experience - Was the staff friendly and helpful? Was the pace of play steady? How were the conditions? Was the routing fun and fair? Did the green fee feel like a fair price? I think that's ultimately how most golfers rate their experiences: 'Did I get what I paid for? Did the course fall short of or exceed my expectations?'
This helps to explain why a celebrated course like Pebble Beach can be saddled with a random three- or a four-star rating now and then, while an unknown course like Sandy Pines in Indiana rakes in five-star reviews. Golfers are not measuring the quality of the course's routing and place in the game as much as they're summarizing the day-to-day experience compared to the cost. If you charge me $50 on what I perceive to be a $100 course, that's a five-star day. If you charge me $200 for what turns into a $75 experience, a lower-rated review will reveal the discrepancy.
When we first published Golfers' Choice in 2015, we collected roughly 125,000 reviews written throughout 2014. To compile Golfers' Choice 2024, we analyzed more than double that last year, collecting nearly 300,000 reviews from Dec. 1, 2022, to Dec. 1, 2023. We've created a dedicated community of players who like sharing pertinent, reliable information. Savvy golfers looking to find new courses to play in their area or to plan trips to new or unfamiliar destinations are reading reviews regularly to find out which courses are making customers happy and which ones are missing the mark, whether that's on price, service, conditioning or some other operational issue.
While the mission of Golfers' Choice remains the same - to celebrate courses doing right by their customers - we have made a few changes this year to hopefully improve the rankings even more. In the past, we have released our lists after mid-January right around the PGA Merchandise Show, golf's greatest 19th Hole held in Orlando every winter. In 2024, we want to continue that tradition, but with a twist. On Jan. 15, we released the Golfers' Choice Top 50, seven sub-category lists and the rankings of top short courses, military courses and college facilities. These are the most coveted lists we release, so they deserve their own spotlight. Every course featured should take a bow for their performance in 2023.
We've pushed back the release of the state-by-state lists for a couple reasons: To improve the information and presentation of each article and to follow a publishing schedule that better coincides with each state's golf season. For example, on Feb. 1, we're releasing rankings for five warm-weather states - Texas, California, Hawaii, Arizona and Florida - because golfers are swinging away in their courses right now.
The rest of the state lists will be revealed March 1 when golfers in Michigan, New York, Minnesota, Montana and other seasonal climates are chomping at the bit at the approaching season. The weather's starting to get warmer, the days longer and golf shows and demo days are ramping up interest in the game. We want to be a part of that building buzz.
The final release on April 1 will include our international lists in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and more.
This extended timeline has allowed us to improve the look and functionality of the articles to include photos of every single course and more useful information, such as rack rate green fees. Perhaps the best part: readers who are scanning the lists can hover their cursor over the photos of each course to see if they can book tee times directly with the click of a button.
Talk about convenience. Consider it a small thank-you for the effort golfers like you make to review courses and share photos with us. We appreciate you, and hope Golfers' Choice 2024 inspires you to play more golf and find a few new courses worth exploring in the year ahead.