Is this golf course good?


There are many of us here at the Refuge, Twitter, Barstool comment sections and other places on the internet who are new to the concept of Golf Course Architecture. I can sympathize with this. Just a few short months ago I couldn’t tell the difference between a Redan and a not-a-Redan. But now, after skimming through a couple of blog posts and listening to a few podcasts, I’m an expert.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about not being a GCA expert is having no clue whether or not you are playing a good course. I mean, imagine how embarrassing it would be to say that you had fun playing golf on a course that got a 0 on the Doak scale?

Avoid that embarrassment with the helpful chart below, put together by myself and @endangeredspiethies. You may have never designed a golf course, or even read a book on architecture, but now you can happily enjoy golf knowing your course is sound. Further, you can now #engage online, and tell others that the courses that they have played are, in fact, very bad.

The Confidential Guide
How did target golf come to be?
Best of the Refuge 2018

Once you’ve gone through the chart, and know a course is good, feel comfortable using the following terms to describe it: width, angles, contours, shot values, centerline bunkers, options, “I feel like the architect is messing with me,” “well placed hazard,” and “firm and fast.”

If someone invites you onto a bad course, politely decline, and notify them that you’ll reconsider when they cut out some trees and move the greens and fairways a little closer to the hazards. If it’s too late, and you find yourself on a bad course, then just make sure to complain about rough, trees, narrowness, “over-irrigation,” “Augustification,” and ABSOLUTELY say, “I struggle to enjoy myself on a course that doesn’t test me through the bag.”


The “REDAN” watermark really ties the flow chart together.


This chart is absolute shit. Not a single mention of a water fountain. HACKS!


There’s a “The Buck Club” watermark on it too, they just need more investors before it becomes visible.


This is terrific, but definitely a missed opportunity to mix in a “it might be too good.”


I wonder how many hours our employers have lost collectively because of this site. NLU better up their payroll because we might be looking for work.




Don’t forget to display a combo of anger and condescension every time you have to hit driver off the tee. then mumble about a lack of imagination as you top it barely to the ladies tees.


Oh thank goodness you guys created this. I’m going to shrink it and laminate it (is that okay?) and the next time a buddy offers to pay for my round of golf at a crap course (most likely a TPC, or at least a course that’s hosted multiple majors) I can just whip out this handy dandy reference guide and tell him where to stick his bomb and gouge, tree lined preferences.

I’m having t-shirts printed that say “Will refuse free golf on crap courses”. Let me know if you want in the pre-order.


I very much appreciate the time you spent to make this. This is good GCA comedy.


shrink it and laminate it

So it’ll fit in your yardage book/scorecard holder, right?


This is gold. As an occasional internet GCA commentator I deeply connect with this highly factual chart. Thank god I have a real excuse to turn down free golf. “The chart says its not possible to enjoy”


Tutorial: mindset to ruin golf through GCA:

Pebble Beach. Course has lost all #WidthAndAngles thanks to the USGA, the greens have shrunk from original size, rounded out unnatural bunkers, constantly very green, no natural sandy areas. Does anyone even know who designed it? it wasn’t Mackenzie. Holes redesigned by Nicklaus and Palmer! (Yikes!) Don’t forget about that tree in the fairway at 18 (ruins the hole)

If you begrudgingly accept an invite to Pebble, you must spend at least an hour talking about how great the course could be if it was just renovated to restore some simple principles of great GCA.


I’m only interested in your t-shirts if you sell them via pop-up shop on imperial sports


I would appreciate a sub-segment delineating when a course would best be enjoyed via hickories, half bags and three club challenges.

no mention of cart paths either… otherwise this flow chart should be “standing in the hall of fame!”


Our bad. We thought it was understood that all good golf courses should be played with hickories.


Everything up to the who designed it is sadly accurate :frowning:

It doesn’t matter who designed it, and only the GCA lovers with sticks up their asses complain about the tree in the middle of the fairway on 18.

Without a doubt, you have to play it once! Could it be better, yes… not only GCA-wise, but price and pace of play-wise; however, you have to at least experience it once!


This post is the :goat: of the Refuge


I hope Doak doesn’t give The Buck Club a “0,” because it will really mess up the Confidential Flowchart.