"Changing the world one divot at a time..."
4 for 40
Pinehurst. Ballyneal. Cabot Links. St. Andrews. A trip of a lifetime for a worthy cause.
Welcome to Husker Dunes Golf Club, my foray into fake golf course design.
The Ben Cox 108+
Photos and recap on a great day at Ballyneal, raising money for a great cause...
Never thought I'd see the day...
Can you guess how I fared on this U.S. Open test?
The Definitive Guide to Chicago's Best Public Golf Courses
Check out our ranking of the best Chicago public golf courses...
Jim connects with his roots during three days in beautiful Northern California...
The Ballynizzle Cup
Check out Part One of the Ryder Cup showdown between Team Coltrain and Team Jefe...
The Bucket List
The Triumvirate checks off one of the courses they've been dying to play in a truly once in a lifetime experience...
The Kingsley Club
Check out the triumvirates visit to Mike Devries incredible course in Northern Michigan...
Tang vs. Tang: One for the Ages
Check out the (extremely) detailed hole-by-hole action of the 2008 Shell's Wonderful World of Golf, a truly epic match between the brothers Tang...
Golf Digest published its latest list of "America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses". There wasn't a lot of movement in the rankings from last time, but Pine Valley muscled its way back into the top spot ahead of Augusta National.
Most of the criticism of the Golf Digest rankings are that it rewards well-conditioned, difficult courses. Some of this may be due to the nature of its 1,100 person ratings panel, who tend to be better players. More than likely, it's a function of its formula for defining greatness along some fixed weights (2x for Shot Values, and 1x each for Resistance to Scoring, Design Variety, Memorability, Aesthetics, Conditioning and Ambience. You can see the specific definitions here: http://www.golfdigest.com/story/how-our-panel-ranks-the-courses)
Shot Values is defined as "How well do the holes pose a variety of risks and rewards and equally test length, accuracy and finesse?". As noted, it's worth twice as much as the other categories so is obviously viewed as the most important characteristic. But what if it were the only category for ranking golf courses? Could Shot Values alone produce a better list, in your opinion? Since Shot Values is difficult to define and even more difficult to quantify, might it be akin to a raters overall view of the course quality anyways (the correlation between Shot Values and all of the other categories combined is 93.5%)?
The list below shows that a Shot Values only approach would bring Hazeltine National, Harbour Town, Pasatiempo, Streamsong Red, Chambers Bay, Galloway National, The Course at Yale (up from 177 to 90!), Colorado Golf Club, Cal Club and Shoal Creek into the top 100 at the expense of Monterey Peninsula Shore, Laurel Valley, Flint Hills National, Hudson National, The Course at Black Rock, The Preserve, Double Eagle, Mayacama, Diamond Creek and The Quarry at La Quinta (down from 83 to 144).
It's not perfect, but it seems to be heading in the right direction. Perhaps Design Variety and Memorability or Ambience need to play a small role as well. But here's the Shot Value-only list as food for thought. More to come as we dig deeper into the numbers.
Update: this Google Sheets tool allows you to set your own category weights and produce a customized top 100/200 list.
|Golf Digest Rank||Shot Value Rank||Course||SV Score|
|17||14||Oakland Hills - South||8.1108|
|20||15||Oak Hill - East||8.1025|
|11||16||Fishers Island Club||8.1020|
|30||19||Pinehurst - No 2||8.0590|
|16||20||The Country Club||8.0561|
|21||23||The Ocean Course||8.0427|
|23||25||LACC - North||8.0305|
|22||27||Whistling Straits - Straits||8.0129|
|31||29||Olympic Club - Lake||7.9927|
|48||31||Medinah - No 3||7.9115|
|34||32||The Golf Club||7.9009|
|32||33||The Honors Course||7.8971|
|39||41||Baltusrol - Lower||7.8256|
|51||46||TPC Sawgrass - Players||7.8058|
|27||48||The Alotian Club||7.7624|
|62||60||Winged Foot - East||7.7079|
|61||62||Baltusrol - Upper||7.6989|
|75||66||Congressional - Blue||7.6786|
|91||85||Essex Country Club||7.5597|
|80||86||Valley Club of Montecito||7.5573|
|92||88||Blackwolf Run - River||7.5515|
|177||90||The Course at Yale||7.5353|
|111||92||Colorado Golf Club||7.5352|
|65||101||MPCC - Shore||7.5124|
|97||108||Flint Hills National||7.4969|
|83||144||Quarry at La Quinta||7.3689|
HIKE 1: BALLYNEAL
I wished I could say I played some of my best golf. I wish I could say that I made 20 birdies and an eagle. I wish I could say I played some of my fastest rounds ever. But none one of those statements were true. But it still good enough. Like Dory, I just kept swimming. Just kept swimming. All my rounds were in the 80s. I made eight birdies overall. And the pace was in the 1:25-1:30 range with very small breaks in between rounds.
I like to say, "Like they always say, the fifth and sixth rounds of the day are always the toughest." That's usually when one hits the grind during the hike, when mentally you started to count down the number of holes left, focus on how much daylight is left and how much your feet hurt, and that's pretty much all you can think about. For whatever reason, I never hit the proverbial wall this year at Ballyneal. I was making great time, and 155 was well within reach, with time to spare.
When pledging my support to Brandon, I half-jokingly commented, "See you for Round 9". During last year's hike, I shamed/jedi-mind tricked Brandon to continue on an extra round during the twilight hours well after he had decided to quit after 126 holes. It worked last year, but I didn't really think he'd my round 9 suggestion seriously. That was until I finished my 8th round, got up to the clubhouse and saw Brandon marching down the 10th fairway on his 145th hole. Brandon started the day on the back nine and I hadn't seen him all day until that point, so I knew he was on a good pace. But when I saw him marching down the fairway, I realized that he was actually a half-hole ahead of my pace!
I quickly switched gears and decided to start round 9 on the back. Then I tried to catch up to Brandon, and it wasn't until the 13th hole when I could finally get close enough to get his attention. The guy was an animal (a point that will become even clearer later on in this blog). Brenna was on his bag at this point and we zipped around the back nine and then headed back to the front.
My M.O. has been to stop at 155 holes in deference to the original Ben Cox marathon. But finishing on the 2nd hole, didn't seem like a great idea. And more importantly, the course was just glowing on a perfect summer afternoon. I don't care if it's your 157th or your 7th hole of the day, if you're anything like me, there's no way that you'd see a view of a golf course like this and not keep playing. The golden hour was in full effect.
At one point, we broached the subject of possibility stretching it to 171 holes, matching the hike record held by our good friend Rob Rigg. But at the bottom of the 4th fairway (okay, rough), I started to feel a little woozy and light headed, to the point that I had to sit for 10 minutes or so at the 6th tee box. At that point, 162 holes seemed like a perfect good and reasonable number. 9 rounds in one day. Walking. Not a bad day's work. We realized that there was no way the two of us could flash the traditional post-hike digits, so my caddie Oscar (who went the last four rounds) got the much-deserved '1' in the picture below.
All in all, it was a fitting end a beautiful day at Ballyneal. We had a great crew of five hikers and even had a friendly multi-round skins game going to add interest and raise an additional $720 for our charitable causes (I won one, Brandon won one and Gary Albrecht won two). Together, the Ballyneal hike raised over $23,500 for charity. I am honored to call these guys fellow hikers and friends:
Ashley admitted that she likes to scream the architect's name whenever she gets an unfortunate break and hits into a hazard. "DOAK!!!" was a recurring theme throughout the day, proving again and again that it really is a four-letter word. Even Tom got into action by commenting, "who put that there?" after a particularly unfortunate bounce into a hazard. Then there was this beauty...
Round 1 (Black/clockwise): Matt & I paired up to beat Tom & Ashley 6&5
Round 2 (Red/counterclockwise): Ashley & I combined to shoot 77 and beat Tom & Matt 4&2 in the
Round 3 (Black): I paired up with Nia, an alum from the Midnight Golf Program (more on this in a second) to shoot 79, well ahead of the others
Round 4/5 (Red & then Black): Tom & I paired up to shoot 83 and 87, losing both matches to Matt & Ashley
Round 6: Matt & I shot 80, defeating Tom & Ashley 3&2
[If you're keeping track at home, Doak was 0-5 on the day on his own course, but he did lap the rest of us in fundraising so it's hard to give him too much flak]
At one point, we thought the 77 on Red with Ashley and 79 on Black with Nia were the course records in both directions, but it turned out somebody did shoot 75 on Red earlier. But the 79 with Nia was in fact the course record, although it's likely been broken by now. It was a fun while it lasted. It's worth noting that this is only the second time that I've held a course record. The other one is for once missing every fairway at Ballyneal. Sadly, going 0-for-14 is one that will truly never be broken.
- As I alluded to, in Round 3 we were joined by three alumni from the Midnight Golf Program, the charitable cause that we all were raising money for. I had Nia, Tom paired with Yvette and Matty G paired with Shelby. Ashley played her own ball. All three were obviously very good players, Yvette is current playing on the golf team at Ohio Valley University in West Virginia. It was a little difficult trying to get them out of their traditional pre-shot routines, and Jimbo had to have a heart-to-heart caddie-to-player talk with Yvette about the weight of her bag, but aside from that the highlight of the day getting to spend time with them on the course and learn more about the program and what it meant to them.
[The night prior to the hike, MGP founder Renee Fluker hosted a reception for the participants and some of the MGP members and volunteers. It was abundantly clear just in that short time just how much Renee and the other MGP volunteers are pouring into the kids to help get to college with the tools they need to be successful. As in, going way above and beyond the call of duty for these kids if necessary. My main takeaways were that MGP or similar programs need to be in Chicago (and every city in America) and short of that, we should all try to find some young person to mentor like the MGP volunteers are doing every year. This is truly life-changing work they are doing. I feel truly blessed to be able to help them in this very small way.]
Although the hike is over, there is still time to support my HHHike for the Midnight Golf Program. You can click on the "Pledge to This Golfer" button at the bottom of this page: http://www.hundredholehike.com/blogs/hhh-2016-double-dose-doak for either the Ballyneal or Forest Dunes hike. Please note my following final stats for each hike when pledging on a per hole or per birdie basis (no eagles, unfortunately):
Ballyneal Hike: 162 holes, 8 birdies
Forest Dunes Hike: 108 holes, 3 birdies
Alternatively, you can simply give directly to Midnight Golf online here: http://midnightgolf.org/support-mgp/
Thanks so much for your time and support of the hike. As always, if you're interested in actively participating in the hike next year, please email me at email@example.com. We have big ideas for next year and beyond and would like to keep expanding the number of golfers involved and charitable causes that are impacted.
One of golf's most unique fundraising events will be held at perhaps the most revolutionary new golf course in years when the Hundred Hole Hike comes to The Loop at Forest Dunes on Monday, June 23rd. The Loop, designed by Tom Doak, will be the only fully reversible 18-hole golf course operating in the world when it opens to the public on June 27th. The Hundred Hole Hike will raise money and awareness for the Midnight Golf Program, which brings personal and professional development to youths in inner-city Detroit through the game of golf.
The Loop is reversible in that it can be played in both a clockwise and counter-clockwise direction. An excerpt from the yardage book below illustrates how one fairway serves the 1st hole on the Red layout and the 18th hole on the Black layout. Both routings share the same 18th green (attacked from different directions), but the 1st green on the Red layout serves as the 17th green for the Black layout, and vice-versa.
Typically, the Loop will operate with play flowing in one direction one day and the other direction the next, allowing visiting golfers to experience two different courses on consecutive days.
The Hundred Hole Hike at The Loop at Forest Dunes will include a featured foursome playing and walking both directions at least three times in one day, equating to 108 holes or more of golf. The featured foursome includes:
- Tom Doak, golf course architect and designer of The Loop at Forest Dunes
- Matt Ginella, Golf Channel's resident travel insider and co-host of Golf Channel's Morning Drive
- Ashley Mayo, senior editor and social media director at Golf Digest
- Jim Colton, founder of Hundred Hole Hike
The event will feature a mix of individual stroke play and alternate shot play, where select Midnight Golf Program supporters, program participants and other donors will partner with members of the foursome above for sets of 36-hole loops. To learn more about the format or to inquire about the possibility of participating in the event, please contact Jim Colton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As mentioned, all proceeds from the Hundred Hole Hike event at the Loop will go directly to the Midnight Golf Program (MGP). MGP is a 30-week empowerment and mentoring experience that teaches life skills including financial literacy, college preparation and community activism, as well as learning to play golf. The program meets twice weekly at Marygrove College in Detroit, at a practice facility and four-hole short course designed by Doak. Life skills and golf skills are taught by numerous adults who volunteer their time and serve as mentors for the program participants. Since 2001, nearly 800 participants have gone on to study at 90 different colleges and universities.
To learn more about the Midnight Golf Program, please go to: http://midnightgolf.org/about/
To learn more about the Loop at Forest Dunes, please go to: https://www.forestdunesgolf.com/
To learn more about the Hundred Hole Hike, please go to: http://www.hundredholehike.com/
There are a number of ways to support the Hundred Hole Hike at The Loop:
1. Play - consider actively participating in the event as an alternate-shot partner. For more information, please contact Jim Colton at email@example.com
2. Pledge - support any of the four golfers on a per hole or lump sum basis, with special bonuses for birdies, eagles and hole-in-ones. Please click one of the buttons below.
Pledge to this golfer
Pledge to this golfer
Pledge to this golfer
Pledge to this golfer
3. Sponsor - Sponsorship opportunities are available for the event at the Loop and for the Hundred Hole Hike in general. Please contact Jim Colton at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
4. Volunteer - Please consider caddying or helping out in other ways on June 23rd. Please contact Jim Colton at email@example.com for more information.
5. Share - Please help spread the word by sharing this page on social media and by following @100holehike on Twitter.
All in all, not a bad sister course to Chop Hills :)
Front Nine Virtual Flyover
How's this for look and feel?
It looks like the data has been processed and you can zoom around the Ballyneal site in 3D below. Very cool!
Just this past week, the beta version of my course, Chop Hills Golf Club, is available on Perfect Golf for user testing. It's probably 98% complete, with just some tweaks to the look and feel of the native grasses and bunker refinement. The shapes of the holes and green contours are all good to go.
If you have any interest in playing this virtual Doak 10 (ok, maybe Doak 9), then you'll need to set up an account on Steam and purchase the early access version of Perfect Golf for $20. Then I can provide you instructions on how to get the Chop Hills course added to your course list. They also have real courses like Sebonack, TPC Sawgrass, Medinah and others with the game.
I hope to see you on the first tee...
(ignore the tee markers)
|Earlier version of the routing. #2 was changed to a par 5, orientation of #16 fairway changed as well|
|1st Hole - 412 Yd, Par 4|
|2nd Hole, 560 Yd Par 5|
|2nd Hole, Lay-up Approach|
|3rd Hole, 366 Yd Par 4|
|4th Hole, 213 Yd Par 3|
|5th Hole, 518 Yd Par 4|
|6th Hole, 550 Yd Par 5|
|7th Hole, 145 Yd Par 3 (Alt Tee)|
|7th Hole, Main Tee|
|8th Hole, 452 Yd Par 4|
|9th Hole, 439 Yd Par 4|
|10th Hole, 577 Yd Par 5|
|10th Hole, 2nd Shot|
|11th Hole, 185 Yd Par 3|
|12th Hole, 317 Yd Par 4|
|12th Hole Approach|
|13th Hole, 419 Yd Par 4|
|14th Hole, 443 Yd Par 4|
|15th Hole, 218 Yd Par 3|
|16th Hole, 436 Yd Par 4|
|17th Hole, 581 Yd Par 5|
|18th Hole, 523 Yd Par 4|
Hundred Hole Hike
|The Hundred Hole Hike (HHH) is a national-network of golf marathons where participants plan to walk 100 or more holes of golf in one day in order to raise money for various worthwhile charitable causes. Please go to http://www.hundredholehike.com/ for more details.|
Chicago Public Course Rankings
My Course Rankings
2. National Golf Links of America
3. St. Andrews (Old)
4. Cypress Point
6. Shinnecock Hills
7. Royal Dornoch
9. Merion (East)
10. Pacific Dunes
11. Friars Head
12. Sand Hills
13. Tara Iti
14. Pinehurst No 2
15. Royal Melbourne (West)
16. Pebble Beach
17. Chicago Golf Club
19. Los Angeles CC (North)
20. North Berwick
One Divot at a Time...
My Blog List
[Note: Rankings have been updated September 12, 2011 with feedback from an expert panel of a dozen fellow Chicago golf addicts.] We've...
Last updated: February 5, 2011 Click links to find relevant blog posts. Rank JIM JEFE JIMBO 1. Ballyneal Pacific Dunes Royal County Do...
The only time "Jim Colton" and "Ivy League" have been used in the same sentence. A quick detour from My Summer of ...
Watching the bloodbath that was Saturday at Augusta this year, I couldn't help but ask myself the same question that was going through m...
Here are some pics from Wednesday's golf marathon. It was a fun and memorable day. I didn't really know what to expect, but I k...
Below is a copy of a press release that our friends at Ballyneal sent out about The Ben Cox 108: HOLYOKE, CO -- On June 20...
Wegoblogger31 is a proud contributor to the new Golf Blog 100, which just launched its site and its ranking of the Top 100 golf courses in t...
Even now that the Ben Cox 108+ hole marathon is over, you can still donate now and get into the July 9th raffle. You just need to get you...
Warning: Wegoblogger Is An Extremely Difficult Blog Which I Recommend Only for Highly-Skilled Readers A promise to all of my loyal blo...
Treating Golf Addiction with an 18-Step Program... What do golf addicts from Chicago do in the middle of winter? We think about gol...
Golf Blog 100
The Ben Cox 108-Hole Golf Marathon
What: A 108-golf marathon to raise money for Ben Cox, a Ballyneal caddie who was paralyzed from a severe skiing accident in March.
When: June 22, 2011 (update)
Where: Ballyneal Golf & Hunt Club - Holyoke, CO
How to Give:
Send a check payable to: Prairie Home Baptist Church (memo: Ballyneal fundraiser)
P.O. Box 271
Haxtun, CO 80731
- Holyoke Enterprise: "Ballyneal member aims to help Cox family"
- Cybergolf: "Ballyneal Member Invites Others to Join 108-Hole Fundraiser"
- Omaha World Herald: Golf Notes (5/31)
- Radio interview on 104.3 The Fan in Denver (6/18)
- Colorado Avid Golfer: "Golfer's Charitable Marathon Could Get You on Riviera" (6/24)
- Golf Channel: "W18: Patience and Perspective" (6/27)
- Golf World Monday: "Marathon Man" (6/27)
- Holyoke Enterprise: "The Ben Cox 108 (give or take 47) climbs beyond $77,000" (6/30)
- Chicago Tribune: "All-day golf event raises more than $100,000 for paralyzed caddie" (7/8)