Explaining the seven star system for rating golf courses
I know Tom Doak has his ten point scale and Ron Whitten effectively uses a decimel system (e.g. 8.7) like an Olympic figure skating judge, but I use a system of zero to seven stars.
Like Doak, we spend most of our time splitting hairs between the truly great and the merely pretty good. The five rating criteria are Design, Natural Setting, Conditioning, Value and Overall.
Seven stars = an indelible masterpiece in both design and natural setting. A course of world significance and a golf life experience with no parallel.The ground itself is a clarion call to golfers.
Six stars = a truly exceptional course and a course of national significance. A must play. A great centerpiece to any golf vacation.
Five stars = an excellent course. A solid design and natural setting. Make the effort to get there.
Four stars = a good, course, if a little pedestrian at times. A good value, but not exceptional. Play it if you’re nearby.
Three stars = a marginal course. There are some issues regarding design, natural setting or both. Not a good value or a bad deal, but merely reasonable.
Two stars = A weak effort with serious design flaws and/or a mundane setting. As Tom Doak said in The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses, “play it in a scramble and drink a lot of beer.”
One star = a terrible course with serious flaws in design and no value to speak of - avoid.
Zero stars = If you waste your money playing here (even though I expressly told you not to), may you crash your runaway golf cart into an alligator infested swamp. As Tom Doak said, “Usually reserved for courses that spent too much money and moved to much earth during construction” then produced little architectural interest. To quote sportswriter and broadcaster Steve Czaban “your wallet is their bitch.”