Open Links Course Ratings
The Open Links Course Ratings are split into two categories, Course and Experience. The course category is meant to capture aspects of the golf course itself. In contrast, the experience category is intended to capture other aspects of a golfer’s time at a particular club, such as the amenities and service. Both categories are scored on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being amongst the best/most, 1 being the worst/least, and 5 being the average.
Most course ratings (and top lists) that exist today only cover the golf course. We thought adding an experience category would provide our users with valuable insights, particularly when planning travel. By splitting out the course and experience categories, we also reduce the chance that one category will affect the other. For example, if someone has a bad service experience, it should not affect the course rating in our setup. Preferences vary across different golfers, and we believe that our ratings will do an excellent job of helping our users find courses tailored to their tastes. For example, some golfers care more about the design and conditions of the golf course, whereas others might care more about finding a place to host an annual buddies trip that has good lodging and amenities.
For each category, there are three subcategories, which we put together with the assistance of dozens of well-traveled golfers. Like breaking out the experience category from the course category, we came up with subcategories which we thought would be particularly helpful for golfers when trying to find a new course to play and/or plan a trip.
The subcategories for the course category are conditions, character, and replay. The subcategories for the experience category are hang, setting, and amenities. Each subcategory is scored on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being amongst the best/most, 1 being the worst/least, and 5 being the average. Something to note, the category ratings are not cumulative of the subcategories. Each category should be scored as an absolute score, and the subcategories would be scored on their own. We did this for a reason. As previously mentioned, each golfer has different preferences. We ultimately want to know how each golfer would rate the golf course and their experience at a club, even if they do not value a particular subcategory as much (e.g., conditions would not affect their overall opinion of the golf course). However, we still want to capture the subcategory information since it will be useful to many.
Course conditions, defined as the quality of the playing surfaces (e.g., tees, fairways, greens, bunkers), were nearly unanimous among those we sought feedback from as one of the subcategories to collect for the course category. Since category ratings are not cumulative of the subcategories, this doesn’t mean that each course has to be in perfect shape to get a 10/10 course rating. One who prefers firm and fast conditions could grade the course conditions subcategory differently.
Character refers to the uniqueness and memorability of the golf course. A course with unique and interesting design features (e.g. greens, bunkers) and topography should receive a higher score. A course where you remember many individual holes, and perhaps even specific features on those holes, should receive a higher score.
Replay refers to the golfer’s desire to play the course again and again. If a golfer ends their round and wants to immediately return to the 1st tee box, this course should receive a higher replay score. If the golfer is happy the round is over, perhaps because of difficulty or lack of interest, the course should receive a lower replay score.
The first subcategory in the experience category is hang, which is defined as how good the setup is for groups to spend time together before and/or after a round. This includes the extent to which the staff is courteous and makes you feel welcome, and the club provides a good atmosphere to spend time in. This is probably the most subjective of the subcategories for experience and perhaps the hardest to define but we are trying to identify the best “hangs” in the game. The Setting subcategory refers to the uniqueness, memorability, and beauty of the area surrounding the golf course. For example, a course that is on the ocean or surrounded by a mountain range should score higher than a traditional parkland course.
Finally, the amenities subcategory attempts to score the club’s quality and variety of offerings outside of the main golf course. This includes the locker room, practice facilities, clubhouse, dining options, lodging, and other extracurricular activities (e.g., short course(s), fishing, boating).