A pair of first-time major-championship hosts will soon step forward, with the U.S. Open coming to Erin Hills, in Erin, Wis., and the PGA to Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C. Granted, each has been the site of some previous high-level competition—Erin Hills having hosted the U.S. Amateur, Quail Hollow a slew of PGA Tour events—but this summer gives each club a chance to truly make a name for itself.
Which gets me to a subject that’s been on my mind of late. Namely, names. Golf course names, to be exact. In an idle moment recently I skimmed through the National Golf Foundation’s alphabetical list of American golf courses and clubs—yes, all 14,951 of them—and what I found was, shall we say, less than inspiring.
Quail Hollow is a good example. It’s not exactly original. In America alone, six courses are called Quail Hollow, 49 others have the word Quail in them, and 89 have Hollow. Erin Hills is both much better and much worse. Only one other U.S. course features Erin in its name, but more than a thousand have Hills, the most common being colossally unimaginative Rolling Hills with 30 iterations across two dozen states.
We Yanks have a penchant for christening our golf playgrounds according to their natural habitat. I prefer the simpler British method (and yes, I looked at their list of 2,500 courses as well—I was having a slow day, okay?), where the course generally takes its name from the town in which it’s sited. Granted, they do have some wacky town names in the UK. My personal favorite, from a golf standpoint, is Chipping Norton: It always makes me yearn for a Lobbing Tweddel or Punching Snerd.
However, I don’t think I could ever be a proud member of a club called Dummer or Dorking (yes, they exist). Nor, on our side of the pond, could I glory in an affiliation with Nutter’s Crossing or Rat River. (Out of courtesy, or perhaps pity, for the people who actually play these courses and belong to these clubs, I’ve withheld their precise locations.)
I must say, I’d have a tough time getting excited about a round at Dismal River, Useless Bay, Sleepy Eye, Stoney Links, Stumpy Lake, Potholes, or Mere Golf Club. And why on earth would I want to subject myself to The Gauntlet, The Nightmare, The Bog, The Fortress, or The Nutcracker? Why put a peg into Purgatory, Hardscrabble, or Quicksand? And who in his right mind looks forward to a day at Rattlesnake Ridge, Poison Bay, Furnace Creek, or Hurtmore?
If you’re a toddler, I suppose you’ll enjoy a romp around Candywood, Happy Hollow, Sugar Isle, Melody Lakes, and Sunny Meadows, and if you have the mental acuity of a toddler, you’ll cavort gleefully across the acreage of Fore Kicks, Far Vu, Krooked Kreek, Tees & Trees, or Club X to C, but don’t expect me to join you.
If that sounds curmudgeonly, know that I have an even greater aversion to grumpy names, i.e., Sourwood Forest, Diss, Crab Meadow, and Fawkham Valley. (Whoever came up with that last one must have been in a really foul mood.)
If the courses at the following clubs are as difficult to play as their names are to pronounce, count me out: Couchiching, Kukuiolono, Ngaruawahia, Pauatahanui, Oconomowoc, Waskesiu, Pehquenakonck, and Wapsipinicon.
And finally, I don’t mind being a senior golfer, but I have no urge to visit Fossil Island, Petrifying Springs, Grandpa’s Woods, Trail’s End, or The Twilight. At least not any time soon.