How about a round of golf that starts on the Scottish coast, finishes on the California coast, and visits Australia and a lot of other places in between? An armchair round of golf, that is.
For the book Golf’s Dream 18s, published by Abrams, I came up with what I called the Ultimate Dream 18. The ground rules were that the first hole on this Dream 18 had to be a real first hole, the second hole had to be a real second hole, etc. But it’s not the best first hole, the best second hole, etc. The Ultimate Dream 18 had to play like a real course, with the proper mix of par threes, fours, and fives, and a reasonable total yardage. The holes had to play to a variety of lengths and difficulties, so it’s not just 18 back-breakers. For good measure, I wanted a variety of geographic locations and different eras of golf design.
Here’s what I came up with:
1 Machrihanish, Scotland, 436 yards, par 4
2 Kiawah Island (Ocean), South Carolina, 543 yards, par 5
3 Oakmont, Pennsylvania, 428 yards, par 4
4 Spyglass Hill, California, 370 yards, par 4
5 Loch Lomond, Scotland, 190 yards, par 3
6 Royal Melbourne (West), Australia, 450 yards, par 4
7 Nirwana Bali, Indonesia, 214 yards, par 3
8 Prairie Dunes, Kansas, 430 yards, par 4
9 Royal County Down, N. Ireland, 486 yards, par 4
10 Riviera, California, 315 yards, par 4
11 Ballybunion (Old), Ireland, 451 yards, par 4
12 Augusta National, Georgia, 155 yards, par 3
13 Pacific Dunes, Oregon, 444 yards, par 4
14 St. Andrews (Old), Scotland, 618 yards, par 5
15 Somerset Hills, New Jersey, 394 yards, par 4
16 Cypress Point, California, 231 yards, par 3
17 National Golf Links, New York, 375 yards, par 4
18 Pebble Beach, California, 543 yards, par 5
That’s a total par of 71, total yardage of 7,073. But, hey, you may not be a pro or scratch player, so I also figured the yardage from five sets of tees (though the real holes don’t all have that many). It’s 6,796 from the low-handicapper tees, 6,511 from the middle tees, 6,087 from the senior/high-handicap men/low-handicap women tees, and 5,545 yards (par 73) from the women’s tees.
In fact, this mythical course isn’t designed so much as a test for pros but as an enjoyable imaginary stroll for the average armchair golfer—a course that would be a challenge if you could actually play it but not one that would absolutely beat you up. It would overwhelm you only with the quality of the designs, and, in many cases, with the scenery.
It was a challenge for its designer, that is, me. I played around with different combinations, but one substitution would throw one element off, so it would lead to another substitution, which would lead to another, then another, etc. After a few days, I decided that this was a Dream 18 that I wouldn’t be able to improve.
Which is not to say it’s the only possible Ultimate Dream 18. If you like doing jigsaw puzzles, you might enjoy trying to come up with one yourself.