Title Defense

Pinehurst … again! For the second year in a row and the third time in four years, the place Bobby Jones deemed the “St. Andrews of U.S. golf” has topped our reader survey as the best resort in America. Well done, and well deserved. Just like the readers of this magazine, every time I visit Pinehurst I’m struck by the quality of the experience, from the friendliness of the staff to the dedication of the caddies to the perfect condition of No. 2, one of the game’s great treasures.

And dinner in the 1895 Grille is always pretty special, too.

Congratulations, also, to the rest of this year’s winners, which across the board look very much like last year’s winners. And that, ultimately, must be what readers are rewarding: consistency. Year after year, all the top finishers make the effort to maintain superlative standards and look for ways to improve. (Love that new clubhouse, Kiawah, and can’t wait for that fourth course, Bandon!) The full results of our 2008 survey start on page 124, and along with them we’re profiling some of the people and places that make these resorts special—the unique characters and defining spots that keep us coming back. And back. And back …

On another note, I’ve noticed a little trend in my neck of the woods that seems to be speeding up play, if only in certain circumstances. Midway through an outing the other week, it occurred to me that it’s been years since I’ve played in a traditional scramble—these days, the format always seems to be a shamble (in which only the best drive is shared; from that point on, each golfer plays his own shots). You’d think that would slow play down, but in fact it has the opposite effect: Instead of wasting time considering and measuring and discussing which shot to play, each player just attends to his own business. I played in a fivesome, and we finished in just over four hours.

Also going the way of the guttie is the requirement that each player has to contribute a certain number of drives. That, too, helps to keep things moving.

Golf has no bigger problem than slow play. So it’s gratifying to see the game fix itself, unconsciously, perhaps, and only in one small way. But at this point, I’ll take what I can get.