Are Hidden Gems a Thing of the Past
I FELT it was about time to look at golf’s 'hidden gems'. It is one of the sport’s most over-used phrases and it didn’t take me long to realise that in this era of social media there is actually no longer such a thing, and probably hasn’t been for at least 10 years.
When somebody plays a relatively unknown course for the first time and then writes about on one of the many available platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat etc etc) it is, quite clearly, no longer hidden.
It is also quite obvious that many of you become exercised on this subject, believing that it is one of golf’s most widely-used cliches.
So maybe the time has come to redefine hidden gems or maybe even to find another term to describe these courses. It is probably time to ditch the word ‘hidden’ altogether.
And how would they qualify?
(Dunkeld & Birnam Golf Club in Perthshire)
Well, they need to be layouts that most of us have never heard of for starters, and that probably means they will be off the beaten track.
An added bonus is that because they are little known, they will usually be pretty cheap to play, and they probably won’t be packed.
We also need to be wary of internet searches. If you insert the words ‘golf hidden gems’ you will be presented with countless lists compiled by renowned publications and companies who provide golf breaks. By their very nature, any course that can accommodate a large group of golfers will have a hotel on site and, almost certainly, will NOT be what any of us would define as a hidden gem.
And you will also quickly discover that many marketing companies employed to publicise golf courses are pretty liberal in their use of the words ‘hidden gem’. Remember that they are simply trying to sell the place to you. That is not to say you should avoid them but check out reviews and visit the club’s own websites to check out images and hole-by-hole guides. You will quickly work out whether or not this is a course you want to visit and tell your friends about.
That brings us to another important factor - if it is a gem then you will want to rush back home and tell all your golfing buddies about it. And you will want to go back.
What is a Gem?
Courses we would define as gems do not have to be design classics. Nor do they have to measure 7,600 yards, have knee-high rough, undulating fairways, tiny greens and dozens of pot bunkers. Very often it is simply about the surrounding scenery.
If you stop dead in your tracks, look around and it takes your breath away it is a gem. If, several weeks after you have played, the holes still stick in your mind, it is a gem.
If you literally cannot wait to return it is a gem. If you have been made to feel welcome, it is a gem.
If you have enjoyed yourself and feel like you have had a bargain….yes, it’s a gem. If you don’t want the round to ever come to an end, it’s a gem. You get back to the clubhouse, where a warm welcome awaits you, and you happily relive every hole, every shot. It’s a gem.
Most important of all, if it puts a smile on your face it is a 24-carat gem!
There is nothing better than stumbling across a golf course in a beautiful part of the world, receiving a warm welcome in the pro’s shop, heading out to the first tee and discovering that everything is in pristine condition.
A bonus is when the members go out of their way to talk to you, to ask if it is the first time you have played there and then sing the praises of the place and tell you about holes you should look out for.
So, let’s consign the words ‘hidden gems’ to the dustbin of history and instead make it our mission to seek out beautiful, affordable courses that we simply haven’t heard of.
And don’t be frightened to consult social media and read what other people think. If a genuine enthusiast takes the time and trouble to write a review in which he or she describes a course as a ‘hidden gem’ we should console ourselves with the fact that it very probably is. And don’t be afraid to spread the word yourself!
What do you think? leave your comments below (Comments)