Virtually every serious golfer is familiar with the perpetual enumeration of greatest golf courses produced by various golf tabloids. Every magazine with any architectural salt produces one of these lists at least every other year. And I’m sure most serious golfers have dreamt about playing all of the courses on one of these lists. So when someone actually accomplishes that task, the achievement is certainly worth a book. And that is what we have here: a golfer’s dream: How a regular guy conquered the Golf Digest list of America’s top 100 golf courses by Larry Berle. Berle’s journey took him ten years to complete. He began with Golf Digest’s list circa 1995 and set out to play all 100 courses, public and private. At many of the courses you are permitted to pay an outrageous fee and tee it up. A majority of the courses are so ultra private it takes a miracle and some luck to be invited to play. Berle set out to conquer the hurdles.
The question is how you go about putting into words what was a special experience to you but is perhaps of mediocre excitement to other golfers? Some golfers may find the whole quest pretentious, others may find it fascinating.
Overall Berle does a respectable job of describing his quest. He tells us about all 100 courses and the lengths he had to go to for the privilege of teeing it up at some of the most private courses in the country. Berle tries to establish himself as a regular guy trying to play all of these courses. However, the fact is, he owned a production company in Minneapolis and was, on several occasions, able to trade concert tickets to get on a private layout. This scenario sometimes led to making the acquaintance of someone who knew someone who…well, you get this picture. The bottom line is that Berle eventually did barter, beg, or ante up his way onto all 100 courses. We admire his ingenuity and networking skills.
This book is not about the golf courses themselves. Overall there is really little description of the layouts proper. (Spyglass Hill gets a nine-line paragraph.) Rather, it is a travelogue and conversational catalogue of Berle’s pursuit of the Top 100.
At times a golfer’s dream is a pleasurable read; at times it left me lamenting for more.