It’s Monday morning and you had a wonderful weekend, right? We did as well. We spent our time tabulating the results from stage two of the 2020 BuffaloGolfer.Com #BuffalosBestGolf rankings, the first of its kind. During stage one, every public and private course was looped in and golf aficionados were asked to rank their top ten (mandatory) with the option of including numbers eleven through fifteen. The task revolved around one adjective: BEST. Despite its four-letter, single-syllable dynamic, BEST cause a bit of a stir during stage one.

What sort of stir? Well, some golfers misinterpreted BEST to mean FAVORITE. Others misconstrued BEST to mean HOME COURSE. Still others defined BEST as LEAST EXPENSIVE, BEST CART SERVICE, MOST DIFFICULT. There’s a bit of some of those in BEST, but none of them is a synonym for what we were after. In stage two, we reduced the number of courses to fifteen in each bracket (public and private) and asked golfers to order them, from BEST (1st) to 15th BEST. We caught our share of flack from courses when we decreed that there is no way that course X or course Y or course Z can be the BEST in Buffalo-Niagara. An important figure in area golf suggested that we abandon the process, as people were bound to be hurt.

We are nothing if not thick-skinned. We know that a true ranking will step on toes, and will compel courses to see themselves in an honest light. Here’s the rub: not every course should strive to be BEST. Some should strive to be friendliest, others should attempt to be most fun, and still others can strive for least expensive, or best cart service, or most difficult. That’s called course diversity, and a proper golf region should have a bit of everything. We soldiered on, and roughly 60 golfers completed our stage two. What did we ask them to consider? Read on.

Golf course rankings emerge from logic. While randomness on a golf course is fun, enlightening, and memorable, it does not denote BEST. Our task here is to order these golf courses from 1st Best to 15th Best. Please be discerning and thoughtful in ordering your selections. Here are guidelines to help you determine order of BEST:

1. Variety and interest of layout. Golf course has combination of doglegs and straight holes. Employs some sand and water, but does not choke the course in hazards. Where possible, uses elevation change to alter pace.

2. Flexibility of layout. Golf course is able to welcome and challenge beginning, intermediate, and advanced golfers, with a variety of distances, angles, and decisions.

3. Conditioning and appearance of layout. Golf course should play somewhere between soft (overwatered) and hardpan. Fast and firm is trendy for links and links-style courses, but we are not a sand-based region. Fairways and greens should be receptive to decently-struck shots. Basic hygiene (garbage cans, bathrooms, food cart, halfway house) should be top-shelf in all areas.

4. Psychological/Spiritual impact: This is a vague category, we understand, but it allows us to bring setting, fun, and penality under one heading. A BEST golf course should have an element of fun, but not silly and easy. Its setting should inspire to a degree, but we understand that some properties are simply prettier than others. Finally, a golf course should not be so penal that it destroys your psyche. A basic tenet to use is, can the hole be played from tee to green on the ground? The balance of forced carries, and the length of them, is crucial.

On a parting note, no matter how much you love the “vibe” of a specific course, remember that “vibe” is about people, the bar, the food, the pool, but is NOT about the layout.

Use note paper, if necessary, before filling out the bubbles, to ensure that you don’t choose a course more than once. Thank you for your thoughtful analysis.

In the private course rankings, we were forced to disallow two ballots. The reason is simple: each ballot voted for a single course (the same one in each case) more than six times. We understand the one-course repeat, and we were able to adjust those ballots. For someone to make a mockery of an open public ranking, is embarrassing for them. Our point structure inverted the vote arrangement. A first-place vote was worth 15 points, a second-place vote, 14, all the way to one point for a 15th-place vote.

Beginning Tuesday, July 28th, and continuing through Sunday, August 2nd, we will reveal the placement of five courses at a time. The schedule is as follow:

Tuesday-Public 11 through 15
Wednesday-Private 11 through 15
Thursday-Private 6 through 10
Friday-Public 6 through 10
Saturday-Public 1 through 5
Sunday-Private 1 through 5

A little drama will be fun, in this instance. Hopefully, you remember how you voted, and will be able to compare your order with the official #BuffalosBestGolf for 2020. Thanks for your efforts, and be sure to comment on Twitter and Instagram, both @buffalogolfer.