Since playing the newly opened The Wave golf course in Muscat last December, I’ve had recurring thoughts about what mid to high handicap golfers genuinely feel qualifies as an enjoyable golf course to play.
I played the Dirleton course at Archerfield Links on Thursday last week and as a result, decided that I was ready to commit my opinions to paper.
There are very few mid to high handicap golfers that don’t aspire to get their handicaps down and even fewer that choose to visit courses that are not generally rated as ‘hard’ by great golfers. Having played some of the most difficult courses in the UK, Europe, South Africa and the USA, I have formed the opinion that we actually classify these top courses as ‘trophies’ rather than tracks that make us feel good about our golf. I’ve played Royal Lytham and St Annes three times, shot in the 90’s every time and although I enjoyed the atmosphere, it left me feeling that I’m really not very good at the game and shouldn’t have a handicap of 13.
The Wave, designed by Greg Norman, is impressive it’s true, but I had great difficulty getting my ball and myself out of the bunkers on occasions. The par 3, fourth hole, is all carry to a green surrounded by water, save for a narrow strip of land to access the putting surface. Visually impressive and no doubt exciting to see how top golfers handle it in the final round of a tournament but where’s the fun in putting your fourth ball down on the tee box and I must say that some players would never hold a ball on that green.
Archerfield, in contrast, is by no means an easy course but the layout and teeing options, give golfers of all levels, the chance to navigate its marvellous bunkers, immaculate fairways and true greens, without destroying their confidence. As with all top quality courses, club selection is key at Archerfield, because visits to the rough, make reaching the green in regulation, quite tricky, but that’s fair enough.
Amateur golfers are, in my opinion, guilty of following the lead of the professionals when describing a course they have played. “It was great, it’s a real test”, I hear them saying. I’ve concluded that I’d rather be saying, “ I really enjoyed playing the course, it was in immaculate condition, fair and above all, it didn’t destroy my confidence.”
My overriding feeling about playing The Wave and in fact most courses of similar difficulty, is that I wouldn’t mind having a go at them once or twice a year but give me courses like Archerfield Links every time, when it comes to playing them two or three times a week.