2002: Perspective - A course (almost) everyone richly deserves

Did you hear about the bankrupt New Jersey couple who won more than $58 million in the Big Game lottery?

Man, if I ever win $58 million and some obnoxious television reporter (but I repeat myself) sticks a microphone in my face and asks what I’m going to do with the cash, the answer will not be “pay bills.”

No sir, I’m building me a golf course. I don’t know where, but I’ll be able to afford a great piece of land and still have enough money left over to grease the palms of regulatory officials to speed along the permit process.

My design philosophy will be along the lines of what they did at Pine Valley (N.J.) Golf Club. There, 85 years ago, George Crump and H.S. Colt came up with the basic plan, then invited every architect they knew to stop in and make suggestions.

Architects who want to peruse the place and offer advice are welcome to do so.

The club will not be private and exclusionary like that new place outside Chicago, Black Sheep Golf Club, that doesn’t want women. Everybody gets to play. Well, almost everybody. If you post messages more than once a week on any golf architecture Web site you are not welcome. Ever.

Green fees will be $25 on weekdays, $24.99 on weekends. We’ll accept post-dated, third-party checks. Anyone working on the grounds crew of any golf course plays for half-price.

The superintendent, whose official title will be Head Greenkeeper, will make $250,000 per year to start. Grounds crew members, who will be called Greenkeepers, will start at $60,000 per year with full benefits. The head equipment technician, who will be called Head Equipment Technician, will make $250,000 per year to start.

The turf will be maintained hard and fast so there won’t be much work to do. Greens will never roll faster than 9 feet, 6 inches. Bunkers will be hand-raked meticulously at the start of every season. That’s it. And there will be no rakes on the course.

There also will be no golf pro, restaurant, pool or tennis court.

Above the cash register will hang two signs: 1) We don’t need your money; 2) The grounds crew has the right of way.

Smoking will be banned until smokers learn to clean up after themselves, meaning the ban is permanent.

Since I don’t know where the course will be, I’m not sure of the name. However, I will not name it after a species of animal driven out of the area during the building of the course. The words Deer, Elk, Hawk, Fox, Eagle, Heron, or Nuthatch will not appear in the title. Neither will the word Scotland. This isn’t Scotland.

If the course is not constructed on sandy soil near the ocean, replete with rolling dunes and indigenous grasses, it will not contain the word Links.

There will be no leagues and no handicaps. The scorecards will not have pars for the holes, just yardages. Each hole will have a name. The first will be called “Out,” the last “Home.” Behind the fourth green will be a man with a wooden pushcart serving one kind of drink. The hole will be called “Ginger Beer,” after my favorite hole on The Old Course. I’ll take suggestions for the other 15.

The nines will not be returning.

There will be three sets of tees. You have to get permission to play from the back. Save your breath, the answer is no.

Eventually, I’d like to play host to the U.S. Golf Association’s Amateur Public Links and Women’s Amateur Public Links championships.

Inside a cramped little lounge area will be shelves of books on golf course architecture that can be borrowed by anyone.

Starting times will be booked over the phone. Politeness counts. If you live within 60 miles of New York or Los Angeles and think your attitude is charming, don’t bother dialing.

On the first day the course opens, I’ll be in the last foursome with my friend Randy Smith and University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma. (I’ve always wanted to meet him.) I’m not sure who the fourth will be.

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