If you’re going to do something, do it right. These words still reverberate from my father’s many lectures growing up. He was a carpenter by profession, perfectionism supposedly one of the key tools of his trade. And while I can’t claim to have inherited any of his handiwork whatsoever, I did pick up his insistence of doing something justice, not “half-arsed” as he would so delicately put it. (Boy, I hope my wife doesn’t read this!)
Which brings me to the very important but correct decision we’ve made in relation to one of this magazine’s biggest drawcards: Australia’s Top 100 Courses ranking.
While ranking the country’s finest courses has never been an exact science – and certainly anything but perfection – the process we employ to make it happen has unmatched standards that simply must be upheld. If they aren’t, it risks becoming a laughing stock.
When an international golf magazine released its “World Top 100” recently, I couldn’t help but chuckle. “How many courses have they played outside their own country, let alone in it?” was a question this office had on repeat.
In times of a global health crisis, littered with both international and domestic border closures, Australian golfers have been starved of the freedom of where and when they can play. What actual God-forbidding hope would an international course panellist have had over that same period, let alone enough panellists to justify a credible course ranking?
Suffice to say, even giving the slightest thought to producing a world ranking during a pandemic is utter madness (“They’re taking the piss,” I can hear Dad rant from the heavens), and clearly explains why walk-up starts like Tasmania’s otherworldly Cape Wickham took a huge dive on that particular list.
But we’ve also come to the conclusion that producing an Australian ranking, based on our active two-year judging cycle, is madness too. It’s why you won’t see it in its traditional biennial March issue this year. Due to the government’s health and travel restrictions imposed on our panellists and respective golf courses during the past two years, we feel it’s simply not credible to release a ranking without giving the judging period an appropriate extension – a making up of lost time, if you will. That extension will see us make our May 2022 edition our bumper Top 100 Courses issue.
It’s a decision that’s already been backed by several courses, including a high-profile new layout that, while highly appreciative of the reality it will make its Top 100 debut in 2022, admitted it doesn’t see how that will be possible until more time is given to judges to see it.
“I know for a fact no judges have played here under my watch yet, so you’d certainly question the credibility of any ranking that includes us until such time,” says its general manager.
Truth be told, we’ve been considering a timing change to later in the year for a while now because of one simple reason: it would afford our extensive judging panel the entire summer period directly before the ranking’s release to see more courses. Will this be the catalyst for a permanent change? That decision will be made in due course, not rushed. That’s how you treat a historical ranking that’s lasted 36 years and is entering its 18th edition. As its custodians, we owe it to the Top 100 brand, the industry as a whole, the courses involved and, importantly, you – the reader – to showcase the oldest and most respected course ranking in the land in its most organic and quantifiable form. As the old adage goes, anything worth having is worth waiting for.
Now if you would excuse us, it’s time to play some golf.