Saturday, December 31, 2011

What's in a name?

Rymill's early 1920s plan for Kooyonga.
A good golf course trumps a bad name. But a simple, original, and sensible name is icing on the cake.

Without exception, the world's top-10 golf courses (according to GOLF magazine) have great names that all make sense based on geography, history, etc.: Pine Valley, Cypress Point, Augusta National, The Old Course at St. Andrews, Royal County Down, Shinnecock Hills, Pebble Beach, Oakmont, Muirfield and Merion. How about Loch Ness Links, to cite just one bizarre example of a ridiculous name here, in Canada? Not so much.

Here are a few of my favourite names:

Kooyonga Golf Club
Adelaide, Australia

Australian golf course designer Cargie Rymill named his beachfront home 'Kooyonga' under a misunderstanding that it was an aboriginal word meaning 'plenty sand, plenty water'. Erroneously again, Rymill felt the same word described the site of his first, and most famous golf course design.

Winged Foot Golf Club
Mamaroneck, New York

Winged Foot Golf Club was established by a group of men who were members of the New York Athletic Club. These two historic clubs have never been affiliated, but Winged Foot's founders borrowed the NYAC logo - a winged foot belonging to the Roman god, Mercury - for their golf club.

Friar's Head
Baiting Hollow, New York

Laid-out amongst treed dunes on the north shore of Long Island, New York, Friar's Head is named for a particular dune with a 'bald' top that looks like a friar's head (and has been used by mariners as a navigational point for many, many years). Interesting too, it's not Friar's Head Golf Club or Friar's Head Country Club, but simply Friar's Head.

Devil's Paintbrush
Caledon, Ontario

One of two courses that make up the Devil's Pulpit Golf Association, this 'faux links' on the outskirts of Toronto is named for a unique wildflower that exists on the property - a simple name that makes sense, and is unforgettably original.

Redtail Golf Course
St. Thomas, Ontario

I can think of two other courses where the word 'Redtail' is used in a name, but this one is unique because, similar to Friar's Head, it's not Redtail Golf Club or Redtail Country Club. Even though Redtail is the ultra-exclusive domain of its owners, its official tag is Redtail Golf Course. I like that, too.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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