Thoughts on Writing

So this is reader participation week.  What do you guys think of my course tour writing?  I am no wordsmith nor will I claim to be.  I just want to solicit some opinions of what everyone likes.

I sometimes struggle with what to say about golf holes.  Some of that will improve as I read more about golf course architecture.  Another piece is I think that the pictures tell most of the story.

So I leave it to you readers.  What do you like, what do you not like, what would you like to see change?

Thanks!

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14 thoughts on “Thoughts on Writing

  1. I admire you for putting yourself out there and asking. It is challenging, I agree, to write about the features and characteristics of golf holes but it is easier to talk about how we feel we about them. I enjoy your writing and reviews. You write for the reader and don’t try to use technical terms or architectural nuance to impress. You’re on a unique journey too. My advice is stay the course…no pun intended. Continued success and thanks again for asking.

    Mike

  2. FatGuyGolf

    I used to run my own golf blog. I’ve written hundreds of course reviews and read thousands more, so I feel your pain. There are only so many words to describe a golf hole, and so many of them have already become cliched. It can be tough to find your own voice (and sometimes even tougher to stick to it) when so many have already been-there-written-that.

    These are just one man’s (hopefully constructive) thoughts. Take what you will from them.

    Your course tours are very thorough… maybe a lil too thorough. Interesting historical intros, but sometimes a bit too detailed when a couple of paragraphs could cover it. You take pretty good pics, but the hole-by-hole format might be a biting off a little too much ground to cover. It’s a nice way to document your round for your personal memories, but probably info overload for someone who has yet to play there. You highlight only a few basic points about most holes, much of which might already be evident in the accompanying picture.

    Less might be more. Pick up on a few architectural themes instead (with accompanying pictures), add in some notes on overall conditions, fun factor, value, customer service, the grill room. If I’m thinking about plunking down my hard earned money to play someplace (especially someplace on a Top 100 list that’s probably charging a premium), I want to know about the overall experience more than the exact layout of the 11th hole.

    In a world growing more and more accustomed to 140 character sound bytes, more of an overview format might be more digestible. Also, I know the whole ‘take pics as you play’ thing can be daunting as you try not to fall behind pace of play. As a result, so many amateur pics fall into a pattern of “tee view, green view, tee view, green view”. Look for some different angles, side views, hilltop panoramas, etc. Or ask if you can take your cart back out after the round for a quick 15 minute spin to a few of the better holes to have more time and perspective to snap a few extra shots.

    I’m sure you already spend some time there, but venture down the rabbit hole at GolfCourseAtlas.com as often as you can. Wander through some of the old posts and start to understand various architects’ design processes, favorite gambits, and strategies. Tom Doak is a member and comments on posts fairly often, so you know it’s legit. Some of that knowledge will surely work its way into your writing as time goes on.

    Most of all, keep it fun. I know as other responsibilities began to pile up in my life, sometimes getting a post up began to feel more like a job or an obligation rather than the fun it had been when I started. If it starts to feel that way, maybe just post an abbreviated quickie review, just a couple paragraphs. Then come back to it if/when you have time, and expand on your memories, using your pics to guide you to just the highlights rather than trying to document every hole.

    Hope this was useful!

    @FatGuyGolf

    1. Thank you for the thoughts! I hear what you are saying. I will probably try to write a little less, but the pictures are something I want to keep. I want the posts to be somewhere for people to go if they haven’t played a place and want to see it start to finish. I try to write about the experience if I have one, sometimes I am in and out. I appreciate the comments and I will work to refine my process. Thanks for looking and reading!

      1. FatGuyGolf

        Jimmy, good thoughts above. If you enjoy showing the whole course, then stick with it. Maybe just try to find ways to break up the hole descriptions with other notes about the course, or drop in a quick story.

        Also realized in my haste I typed the name of the architecture website wrong. It’s GolfClubAtlas.com. I can get lost in there for hours!

        Fat Guy

  3. Good thread! Hoping for some more ideas to use for my own blog! Do what you want is my advice. Unless you are getting paid for it, write everything up the way that makes you smile on a cold February evening when you are scrolling through last year’s posts about where you played.

    If you enjoy the architecture piece then follow fatguy’s suggestion. If you like the history of each venue then dig into that. You seem to like pictures, then post as many as you’d like. Personally, I love your pictures! The more pictures the better in my opinion. Unless I’ve played a course that you are reviewing I don’t always read the comments about the hole, unless the pictures point me in that direction. I’ll always scan the pictures though.

    As a sample suggestion, I just read your Pumpkin Ridge post and a few thoughts come to mind about that course, which I’ve played twice. First, the history of the course and you’ve covered that well. Second, the gorgeous setting where the course is located! The view from the 14th is one of my favorites in the Portland area from a course, with the clubhouse and coastal range in the distance. Finally, the 16th through the 18th is a great stretch where someone could go birdie, birdie, birdie, or bogey, double, double. I might have highlighted the last two points in a review if I was typing. Just my $0.02

    As another example, I read the Dunes Golf & Beach Club review. Again, great job with the pictures! I played there 4 years ago now and it feels like I was just there yesterday with your pics. The first thing I think of about that course is how stupid that 15th hole is! Just my opinion of course, but I think it is a terrible par 5. I hit hybrid, hybrid, mid iron as driver didn’t seem to be the play off the tee. If you hated the hole, feel free to say so! If you loved it, explain how you loved it while your playing partner hated it (if he did). That sort of thing, personalize it a bit just like you did with the 14th hole at Bandon Trails. I played there in 2011 and that goes as one of the worst holes that I’ve played, but I played hockey across the green. I’ve read a few changes were made in recent years.

    Personally, I enjoy seeing seeing how much it cost to play, review of conditions, pace of play, and playability. Good luck and I’ll try to pay more attention to some of the courses that we’ve both played to generate some discussion!

  4. Jimmy,

    Good on your for asking for candid feedback in an effort to grow as a writer. First, I wouldn’t keep coming back and reading your posts if I didn’t think you were doing a good job, so keep it up and allow your writing to evolve as you learn more about courses, architecture, yourself, etc.

    One thing I try to keep in mind when writing something, whether it is one paragraph or an entire blog post — if it doesn’t feel interesting to me, it will be ten times less interesting to my readers. One other thing I try and do is read all my blog posts back to myself out loud. Reading it out loud really exposes rough or boring patches. I’m not saying you have any of those, but maybe it’ll catch them in the future 😉 Anyway, that isn’t very specific advice, but it was something passed to me which I find helpful.

    Cheers
    Josh

  5. Jimmy

    I think we all struggle with the same challenges. Personally, I like the pictures and your personal thoughts. That is a unique feature about your posts that I enjoy most. I appreciate the responses of the other readers, but keep in mind that we are a very small sample group.

    I guess a question I would ask is what is your intent for writing the your articles? This might have an influence on what and how you write your articles. It is a tough question, but only you know the answer to this.

    Regardless on what you choose, I am a dedicated follower and that will not change anytime soon! Keep the reviews coming!

    Cheers
    Jim

  6. Jimmy,
    One thing that stands out to me is that you really love golf. You are not pretending and that comes across in your posts. If you write the blog because you love it, well then I guess it doesn’t matter what others think. I certainly enjoy your site, as I am always on here reading your stuff so for me, keep doing what you are doing. I do like the suggestion from ‘Golf is Mental’ to read it back to yourself. I have done this once or twice and it really does help eliminate some gotchas. I never noticed any gaffes in your writing but it never hurts to be extra careful. As for length, personally, if I am reading a course review, it is because I want to know about that course so even long posts are ok for me, others may disagree. I tend to write shorter posts because that is my style but I also don’t have consistent traffic so what do I know? Best of luck.

    Cheers
    -Brian

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