What Makes a Golf Course Good?


To paraphrase Shakespeare: “What’s in a design, that which we call a golf course.  By any other routing, wouldn’t be as good.”

Or something like that.

Last weekend, a buddy and I teed it up at Lake Presidential Golf Club in Upper Marlboro, MD.  Golfweek recently ranked in No. 2 on its “Best Courses You Can Play, State-by-State,” list.  After playing all 18 holes, we could easily see why.  Lake Presidential has one of the strongest public routings in the greater Washington, DC area hands down.  Each hole presented its own unique challenge; from a long par 4 to short, downhill par 3 to a reachable par 5 with water looming, every club in my bag got a workout.

And that got me thinking, what makes a golf course “good?”  When you’re talking with your buddies, how do you describe a good golf course?

According to Golfweek, its top list takes in account overall strength of routing, feature shaping, natural settings, greens, variety and remarkable nature of holes, conditioning and maintenance, landscape management and other criteria.

Lake Presidential checked off everything on that list. Its routing was top notch and demanded both fades and draws to score well.  It features great sight lines, stunning gorges and remarkable shaping around the greens as steep ridges make way to well-placed bunkers.  Furthermore, nothing felt forced on this course; it was as if the designers removed some trees and found a golf course.

For myself, the biggest determining factor is whether the course keeps my attention for all 18 holes.  I’ve played a few layouts in my day where one hole starts to feel like the next and so on.  Lake Presidential grabbed my attention from the first tee shot and never let go until the final putt on 18. 

How about you? How do you determine a course’s ranking?  We’d love to hear from you, message us @BillyCasperGolf on Facebook or Twitter!