Guidelines used by Golfweek’s course raters
1. Ease and intimacy of routing
The extent to which the sequence of holes follows natural contours and unfolds in an unforced manner.
2A. Integrity of original design (Classic)
The extent to which subsequent changes are compatible with the original design and enhance the course rather than undermine or weaken it.
2B. Quality of feature shaping (Modern)
The extent to which the land’s features have been enhanced though earthmoving and shaping to form a landscape that suits the game and has aesthetic/thematic coherence.
3. Natural setting and overall land plan
Quality and aesthetic relationship of golf course, clubhouse, cart paths and other facility features to surrounding structures and native scenery.
4. Interest of greens and surrounding contours
Shotmaking demands on and around the putting surfaces.
5. Variety and memorability of par 3s
Different clubs hit; different terrain; different looks.
6. Variety and memorability of par 4s
The extent to which the angles of play, varied terrain and left-to-right/right-to-left shots create interesting and varied playing options.
7. Variety and memorability of par 5s
The extent to which holes offer a variety of options from the tee and on the second shot as well as risk/reward possibilities.
8. Basic quality of conditioning
Variety of playing textures; extent of turf coverage; consistency and quality of bunker sand; delineation of tees/fairways/roughs/collars and chipping areas (beyond day-to-day changes because of weather, aerification, overseeding or repairs).
9. Landscape and tree management
The extent to which trees and any floral features complement or enhance rather than impose and intrude upon the ground features, and the playing options of the course.
10. “Walk in the park” test
The degree to which the course ultimately is worth spending a half-day on as a compelling outdoor experience.