Overall, our 140-strong judging panel lodged nearly 3,000 scores for 321 different courses across the country. They visit and score courses on seven criteria, which were revised slightly for this ranking period.
New definition: SHOT OPTIONS
How well does the course present a variety of options involving risks and rewards and require a wide range of shots?
Old definition: SHOT VALUES
How well does the course pose risks and rewards and equally test length, accuracy and finesse?
(Shot Options counts twice, just as Shot Values did, in our formula, because a survey of panellists 30 years ago felt it was by far the most important aspect of a course design and should be double-weighted.)
New definition: CHALLENGE
How challenging, while still being fair, is the course for a typical scratch golfer playing from the tees designated as back tees for everyday play (not from seldom-used championship tees)?
Old definition: RESISTANCE TO SCORING
How difficult, while still being fair, is the course for a scratch player from the back tees?
New definition: LAYOUT VARIETY
How varied is the physical layout of the course in terms of differing lengths (long, medium and short par 3s, 4s and 5s), configurations (straight holes, doglegs left and right), hazard/‘penalty area’ placements, green shapes and green contours?
Old definition: DESIGN VARIETY
How varied are the golf course’s holes in differing lengths, configurations, hazard placements, green shapes and green contours?
New definition: DISTINCTIVENESS
How individual is each hole when compared to all others on this course? Additionally, how fun and enjoyable for all levels of golfers would this course be to play on a regular basis?
Old definition: MEMORABILITY
How well do the design features (tees, fairways, greens, hazards, vegetation and terrain) provide individuality to each hole, yet a collective continuity to the entire 18?
New definition: CHARACTER
How well does the course design exude ingenuity and uniqueness and possess profound characteristics that you would consider outstanding for its era?
Old definition: AMBIENCE
How well does the overall feel and atmosphere of the course reflect or uphold the traditional values of the game?
These two criteria stayed the same:
How well do the scenic values of the course (including landscaping, vegetation, water features and backdrops) add to the pleasure of a round?
How firm, fast and rolling were the fairways? How firm yet receptive were the greens? How true were the rolls of putts?
To arrive at a course’s final score, we total its averages in the seven categories, doubling Shot Values (from 10 to 20) to create a score out of 80.