I‘ve played on three new courses this year and I haven’t enjoyed them that much. In what appears to be a disturbing trend, golf course designers seem to be building the hardest and most unfair golf course possible.

Not sure where traditional golf course design has gone but it seems that super deep bunkers in the middle of the fairway, severely tiered greens and putting surfaces running at 13 on the Stimpmeter appear standard practice. Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention deep and nasty rough lining each fairway.

Although it can be entertaining for five minutes, I have found these super difficult courses boring and uninteresting to play. I can’t help but think what problems handicap golfers have to go through. A round of golf becomes a serious mission – maybe even four hours of torture.

Here’s my idea.

Each golf course should create a Unique Playing Proposition (UPP). The course designer or staff should come up with a short paragraph that uniquely identifies the golf course from its competition. Here’s an example.

Course X has been designed to be extremely difficult. It has deep rough, fast greens and is exceptionally long. Don’t even think about playing here if you’re not playing on single figures.

The UPP could be placed on the back of scorecards or on a sign next to the first tee and would offer three distinct advantages.

  1. It would pre warn you about what you’re about to experience. There wouldn’t be any unwanted surprises and just maybe help you understand why a certain hole is 420 metres, uphill, with an upside down saucer green and plays into the prevailing wind.
  2. It would give the course owners a marketing edge. The UPP would help them identify their target market – it would then be a matter of selling the golf course to those golfers who fall into the target market. It’s much easier to sell to a unique group rather than everyone.
  3. And maybe golf course architects would build better golf courses. They would have to think about the UPP prior to starting and then build accordingly. At the very least it might help us understand what they were thinking.

Bethpage Black, host to this year’s US Open, already do this. The message below leaves the golfer under no doubt about what the golf course is about.


Last week while on holidays I played at Moonah Links. Although I found it incredibly tough, long and almost an unfair golf course, I knew before I teed off that that was to be expected. Designed for the Australian Open, Golf Australia wanted a course that was tough – and it has been marketed that way. Sometimes marketing can go a long way.