Golf Course Reviewer
About our Golf Course Reviewer - Ed Battye
Ed founded Golf Empire to help amateur golfers find out where and when competitive golf will be played. He currently plays off a handicap of 3 at Woodsome Hall Golf Club near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.
Having spent much of his golfing career playing off scratch he has competed in Open Championship qualifying, the British Mid-Amateur Championship and several World Amateur Ranking Golf tournaments (...quite unsuccessfully in most of them it must be said!) although a recent highlight was winning the 2016 Hollinwell Trophy at Notts Golf Club.
Nowadays most of his time is spent playing open events all over the UK as well as travelling far and wide to carry out golf course reviews for the Golf Empire website.
In total he has played well over 400 golf courses, mostly under competitive conditions, and has a love for pure links golf.
Through the golf course review section of the website he aims to share his personal views on the courses he has played and hopefully help you in planning a golf trip or unearthing a true hidden gem.
Ed's views on golf courses
"What I personally like in a golf course is one that gives the golfer plenty of options, especially regarding the way in which approach shots can be played into the greens and recovery shots from around them. In my experience this nearly always stems from firm turf and natural movement in the land; the ball has got to do something when it lands otherwise I lose interest pretty quickly. Couple these favourable ground conditions with enough width to create strategic angles and that's when a golf course has really done its job for me."
"If there are a number of different ways to play a shot or hole, each with their own degree of risk and reward, then I feel challenged and inspired. If a golf course succeeds in enticing me to hit the daring shots, when my head says I'd almost certainly be better off not to, then we're going to get along particularly well."
"Most importantly to score highly in my rankings the course must have a cohesive variety of options and challenge in its design. Many courses I play have holes with several options and a spectrum of challenge... but all my personal top courses have something extra which glues it all together and unites the individual parts cohesively. This subsequently gives the course its own special identity, a unique personality, a pulse."
"Donald Steel wrote, in his excellent book Classic Golf Links Of Great Britain & Ireland, that 'no great symphony can be all crescendo' and how a golf course flows during the 18 holes is something I also regard as one of the most vital aspects of judging a course and is often what separates the very good from the truly great. I believe that where and when the highs and lows of a round present themselves, the sequential order of how all the pieces fit in place, cannot be underestimated. This tempo, a cadence if you like, is what ties everything together; ultimately if a course has got no rhythm it has got no soul. And the very best courses take you on more than a golfing journey which also enhances their memorability exponentially."
"Whilst I don't think there is any fixed formula you can apply to rate a golf course interesting and varied green sites are particularly high on my watch list... but it is critical that they fit their surrounds sympathetically. I like undulating greens and I like subtle greens but most of all I like greens that merge seamlessly with the rest of the terrain from both a visual perspective and also from a playing point of view."
"Meanwhile, I care little for courses that dictate the way in which I must play the holes. Narrow tree-lined fairways, thick rough and the golf ball stopping close to where it lands does not promote the best of golf in my opinion. I dislike repetition too; I want my golf to be varied and unique. It doesn't have to be completely fair either; luck of the bounce is one of golf's greatest elements."
"How difficult or easy a course is holds very little interest to me... unless it's the same course on consecutive days! How short or long it measures is irrelevant too. I do wish to be challenged though but I want it to be done in a fun and engaging way rather than being beaten-up by a slog-fest. Too many long walks from green-to-tee are a pet hate; golf is primarily a walking game and I want to be pegging it up on the next hole as quickly as possible and finished the 18 in less than 2 1/2 hours on my own, or under 3 with a mate."
"The cost of a green-fee is never a factor in my rating of a golf course and the condition is something that I place only minor emphasis on, however, an exceptionally presented course will always be looked upon favourably. That said, I'd always rather play a great course in poor condition than a mediocre one in excellent condition. I can handle an overgrown teeing area, a divot-ridden fairway and hollow-tined greens - the only thing I won't stand for at any venue is poorly cut holes, there's simply no excuse for that. Ultimately all-year-round playability is much more important to me than the condition on a particular given day."
"I do believe that aesthetics and the setting play a small, but not insignificant, role in rating a golf course, the actual location much less so, but I must stress that beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder. For me a bleak and desolate piece of linksland can be a visual feast whilst others may disagree."
"Very little, if any, weighting is given to the so-called "prestige" of the club, their facilities, quality of food or the luxuriness of the clubhouse. The overall visitor experience is important to me but has little sway on the rating of the actual golf course. I do, however, feel that historic golfing events play a small part in how a course should be judged. Just ask anybody walking off the 18th green at St. Andrews."