Episode 005 – Ron Whitten from Golf Digest

In this episode, Nathan has a conversation with his friend and Golf Digest Architecture Editor Ron Whitten.  Ron has been in the business for decades and visited more courses than practically anyone else.  He is also in charge of the Golf Digest rating process and panelist for all of the Top Courses lists.  However, Ron is not a fan of being a guest on podcasts because he prefers to be the interviewer and not the interviewee.  He also didn’t want to talk about himself, the rankings system, or the myriad of questions he is asked every time he sits down for an interview.  Fair enough!  He knocks it out of the park when Nathan tells him he can rant about anything he wants—from what’s wrong with golf architecture to the problems with the new USGA rules for 2019 to the divide caused by social media among golf architecture fans and critics.  “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!”

During this episode, Ron gives his take on the Longleaf Tee Initiative and Nathan explains why he installed it as part of his renovation of The Refuge in Flowood, Mississippi.  Here’s more info on the Longleaf Tee Initiative.  And you can learn more about the ASGCA here.

The USGA and R&A put new rules into play on January 1, 2019 and Ron has thoughts…lots of them.  Here’s a link to the new rules:  New Rules of Golf 

A number of topics turn back to Erin Hills in Wisconsin, a course that Ron co-designed with Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry.  The course hosted the 2017 US Open.

They also dicuss Copper Mill Golf Club near Baton Rouge, Louisiana a number of times–a course Nathan co-designed in the early 2000’s which won Golf Digest’s “Best New Affordable Public Course in Amierca” when it opened for play.  Learn more about Copper Mill here.

Pete Dye’s name comes up a number of times.  Here’s the story Ron recently wrote about Pete and his current health battle.

When a Twitter fan asks for Ron’s take on “Strokes Gained” and its impact on golf course design, Nathan and Ron both have to admit they don’t know much about “Strokes Gaines.”  You can learn more about it here.

There’s also a lot of discussion about “left brain” vs “right brain.”  More information on that concept is here.

As they wrap up the episode, Nathan thanks Ron for writing the foreword to the thriller novel he finished in 2017 (and is still trying to get published).  However, they never mention the name of the book.  It’s entitled Vincent Vino and you can find more information on it here.


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