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What does it mean when a US course is a public course?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hi guys,

 

Quick question from someone living in the UK. What do you evil imperialist dawgs mean when you refer to one of your golf courses as being a public course?

 

Does that mean anyone, regardless of handicap, can play there?

 

I mention this as I think a few of the PGA course that are used are public courses arent they (Bethpage and the one Tiger is playing on at the moment???)?

 

Anywho, thanks for the replies.


Regards

 

Mailman

post #2 of 15
Public = no membership required. So yes, anyone can play.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

Is it a US thing, where even the best of the best courses are open to the public? Just thinking about some of the top courses here in the UK where you literally have to be related to royalty before you can even look at them! :)

 

Regards

 

Mailman

post #4 of 15
Public courses anyone can play. Not necessarily better or worse than private courses. Lots of the PGA tour courses are on private courses, they tend to be better. Public courses that are players by the pros cost hundreds to play anyway, so they are actually rich people courses :(
post #5 of 15

Public just means that anybody can play them. The two you mentioned, Beth Page and Torrey Pines are both municipal courses as well. There are some amazing courses open to the public in the US. That being said, there are equally amazing (if not more amazing) private courses around where you have to be a member (and pay big bucks).

post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by mailman View Post

Is it a US thing, where even the best of the best courses are open to the public? Just thinking about some of the top courses here in the UK where you literally have to be related to royalty before you can even look at them! :)

 

Regards

 

Mailman

     Public course generally refers to a course where anyone can play (there may be a few restrictions such as time of day for certain age groups) and there is no membership as oppose to semi-private which has membership but still has open availability for public players or private which is members only. There are several public courses that have been and are regularly used for PGA events including the ones you stated, also The Plantation course, some of the TPC courses and the courses at Disney off the top of my head. 

post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by mailman View Post

Is it a US thing, where even the best of the best courses are open to the public? Just thinking about some of the top courses here in the UK where you literally have to be related to royalty before you can even look at them! :)

 

Regards

 

Mailman

 

We have courses like that but they are referred to as private courses, and require often costly memberships.  And indeed, n some of them (Augusta) one needs to be the American equivalent of royalty to be be invited to join.  And there are 2 types of private courses.  One is equity, where the members actually own the course/club.  The other is where some entity own the facilities but the use of them is limited to the members (and guests, for a fee)

 

But we need to distinguish between 2 different types of public courses.  Some of them, often referred to a munis, are owned by the local government.  Bethpage and Torrey Pines fall into this category, but they are far from being typical of munis.  Munis have a reputation of generally being lower quality designs and not maintained as well as other courses.  Also of attracting a lower quality of golfers and being deficient in etiquette as well as ability.  That is far from being universally the case, ut it is the reputation.

 

The other type of public course is one that is owned by a private entity but allows anyone to play for a daily greens fee.  Sometimes these courses also offer "memberships" but that generally connotes the ability to pay a monthly or yearly fee for unlimited (or semi-unlimited) play.  These are also sometimes called daily fee courses and some of them are really quite up-scale.  Pebble Beach would be a very prominent example of this type.  Although that term, daily fee,  really would also apply to munis as well.   And some munis also off similar "memberships.

 

The course I play the most at used to be a private equity club.  They ran into financial difficulties and the city bought them out.  Now you can pay a daily greens fee to play there or you can pay $200 a month for unlimited play, including cart.  Fortunately for me, as a teacher who gets the summer off, I can do the monthly in those months where I know I will be able to play at least a certain amount and just pay daily greens fees in other months where weather and my schedule limit my play.

 

Thus endeth More than you wanted to know about golf courses in America.

post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by mailman View Post

Is it a US thing, where even the best of the best courses are open to the public? Just thinking about some of the top courses here in the UK where you literally have to be related to royalty before you can even look at them! :)

 

Regards

 

Mailman

 

There are many levels of public courses in the US.  There are semi-public (or semi-private if you prefer) courses where members get preferred tee times, but not exclusive access.  Public courses range from very basic municipal courses to some very upscale resort courses.  Some resort courses require that you be a guest at the resort to play, others will take anyone's money, first come first serve.  

 

A lower end muni can run as little as $18-$20 for 18 holes walking, whereas a nice upscale resort course can go from $125 to near $500 (last I heard Pebble Beach was still $495)  My home area in Denver has some beautiful upscale municipal courses which can be walked for $40-$60, or $60-$85 with a cart.  There are also some privately owned and managed public access courses in the $60-$125 range.

 

Basically, if you live in the right area, you have a lot of options without having to go private. 

post #9 of 15

Many UK "private" courses are actually more open to the public than their US counterparts, correct me if I'm wrong. 

 

British Open rota playable by public:

 

St Andrews, Carnoustie, Muirfield, Turnberry, Royal Troon, Royal St Georges, Royal Liverpool, Royal Lytham, Royal Birkdale

 

US Open Courses playable by public:

 

Pebble, Torrey, Bethpage, Pinehurst

 

US Open/Major courses not playable by public:

 

Winged Foot, Augusta, Olympic, Congressional, Oakmont, Olympia Fields, Merion, Baltusrol, Medinah, Hazeltine, Shinnecock and many more.

 

Bethpage and Torrey are only recent entries to the US Open as well. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of courses available to play publicly in the US so this isn't that noticeable.

 

But one thing I found about playing in the UK, if there's a course you want to play, chances are much better I can play it than in the US. UK is so much better in this regard.

post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all of your very informative posts.

 

Nevets,

 

Perhaps its just a perception thing on my behalf then eh? Ive looked at the courses you listed previously and it just seems that unless you are priviledged to know someone who knows someone who knows royalty then you are probably better off not even bothering with any of those courses if you are a mere mortal on the course (ie. 20+ handicap?)???

 

Regards

 

Mailman

post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by mailman View Post

Thanks for all of your very informative posts.

 

Nevets,

 

Perhaps its just a perception thing on my behalf then eh? Ive looked at the courses you listed previously and it just seems that unless you are priviledged to know someone who knows someone who knows royalty then you are probably better off not even bothering with any of those courses if you are a mere mortal on the course (ie. 20+ handicap?)???

 

Regards

 

Mailman

Courses like Bethpage have become so popular that the tee times are bought by separate companies from the course and they sell the times for more money.  And people do that obviously, because you really do have to book very far in advance in order to get a time.  Where as a course like TPC at Deer Run where they have a PGA event only costs like 50 or 60 bucks to play with lots of availability, which is not bad!

 

Side story:  My dad grew up on long island and thus grew up playing Bethpage Black when he was a kid (like 45yrs ago or so), and he still has a very vivid memory of what each hole looked like, and he likes to tell me which holes were harder than now or what has changed on each hole.  But he probably won't be able to get back and play it again because of how popular it became after its first PGA appearance.

post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by phillyk View Post

Courses like Bethpage have become so popular that the tee times are bought by separate companies from the course and they sell the times for more money.  And people do that obviously, because you really do have to book very far in advance in order to get a time.  Where as a course like TPC at Deer Run where they have a PGA event only costs like 50 or 60 bucks to play with lots of availability, which is not bad!

 

 

 

Bethpage is as public as can be--owned by New York State--but still hard to get on.  Anyone can play, but if you're a NY resident you can only make the reservation a week in advance.  If youre not a NY resident, then its like 2 days in advance.  And you've got to preregister with their automated system.  They also limit you to one round a month on the Black course.  http://nysparks.com/golf-courses/attachments/BethpageInformationaboutGolfRegistrationandReservations.pdf

 

Your handicap doesn't really matter, but they do try to scare away hackers.....

 

 

 

 

 

Quote:
The Black Course is a difficult and challenging course that should be played only by low-handicap golfers. The course is for walkers only and its slope rating is one of the highest in the northeast. This was one of the last courses designed by master golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast, and is said by many to be his finest work. The Black Course served as the site of the 102nd U.S. Open Championship in 2002. Our National Championship returned to the Black in 2009. The narrow fairways, high roughs, well placed bunkers and small greens help to make this an extremely difficult course.
post #13 of 15

sorry, double post.

post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by mailman View Post

Is it a US thing, where even the best of the best courses are open to the public? Just thinking about some of the top courses here in the UK where you literally have to be related to royalty before you can even look at them! :)

 

Regards

 

Mailman

 

Oh noooo. Not at all. We have rampant elitism here; rich folk who want nobody on their course but their own.

 

What we do have going on here are many courses that were formerly private which have opened their doors to the public due to the economy. Yeah, the Augusta Nationals don't have to worry about such economics, but there have been many formerly private course that have seen their membership rolls dwindle & for the sake of survival have opened their doors to the public. Been happening a lot here in Florida.

post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by mailman View Post

 

Perhaps its just a perception thing on my behalf then eh? Ive looked at the courses you listed previously and it just seems that unless you are priviledged to know someone who knows someone who knows royalty then you are probably better off not even bothering with any of those courses if you are a mere mortal on the course (ie. 20+ handicap?)???

 

 

I think perhaps you're confusing two issues, firstly public access to a course (ie. no need to know a member or get an introduction), and places that have a handicap requirement to play.

 

Many courses will list a maximum handicap to play (most often 18) and ask for a handicap certificate to be presented, although I'm not sure it's actually enforced very frequently. I'm guessing that it's there so that if you're not displaying good etiquette or are holding up play then they can use it as an easy way to get you moving or off the course.

 

If you're off 28 you're really going to struggle around some of those courses, but I reckon as long as you're not affecting anyone else you'll pretty much be left to your own devices.

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