Isle of Purbeck Golf

The Tom Doak Golf Course Rating Scale – ‘The Doak Scale’

Many things in life should be kept simple, and golf course rating is one. There are many other rating and review sites out there who will go into intricate detail about far too many aspects of a golf course, and a golf club.

I do not want to reinvent the wheel, and we have one of the best and simple golf course rating scales already created by the acclaimed modern golf course architect, Tom Doak. Nicknamed ‘The Doak Scale’ a golf course if give a 0 to 10 rating with 10 being the best, 0 the worst. There are a few factors which come into consideration when selecting a rating, which are better described in an article written by Tom Doak for Links Magazine.

For One London Golfer we will be using a modified Doak Scale to rate all the courses featured on the website.

The Modified Doak Scale:

The one flaw of using the Doak Scale for a small region in the world, is exactly that, the sample size. The Doak Scale measures the best courses in the world, where as One London Golfer rates the best golf around London. If you read Tom Doaks Confidential Guide you will see that courses such as Sunningdale Old and Royal St George’s are rated as an 8. However, they are both clearly amongst the very best courses in and around London, and will therefore set the benchmark for One London Golfer and be awarded with 10’s.

So, the modified Doak Scale simply means that we are comparing and rating the courses around London, and not comparing them against the world’s best such as Pine Valley, Cypress Point and Tara Iti. A 10 rating in this website therefore, will not compare to a 10 within the Doak books, for example.

The Tom Doak Scale Rating Definitions:

0 Course Rating – Just Awful
A course so contrived and unnatural that it may poison your mind, one I cannot recommend under any circumstances. Reserved for courses that waste ridiculous sums of money in their construction, and probably shouldn’t have been built in the first place.
1 Course Rating – Basic
A very basic golf course, with clear architectural malpractice and/or poor maintenance. Avoid even if you’re desperate for a game.
2 Course Rating – Mediocre
A mediocre golf course with little or no architectural interest, but nothing really horrible. As my friend Dave Richards summed up: “Play it in a scramble, and drink a lot of beer.”
3 Course Rating – Average
About the level of the average golf course in the world. (Since I don’t go out of my way to see average courses, my scale is deliberately skewed to split hairs among the good, the better and the best)
4 Course Rating – Mildly Interesting
A modestly interesting course, with a couple of distinctive holes among the 18, or at least some scenic interest and decent golf. Also reserved for some very good courses that are much too short and narrow to provide sufficient challenge for accomplished golfers.
5 Course Rating – Above Average
Well above the average golf course, but the middle of my scale. A good course to choose if you’re in the vicinity and looking for a game, but don’t spend another day away from home to see it, unless your home is in Alaska.
6 Course Rating – Very Good
A very good course, definitely worth a game if you’re in town, but not necessarily worth a special trip to see. It shouldn’t disappoint you.
7 Course Rating – Excellent
An excellent course, worth checking out if you get anywhere within 100 miles (for the purpose of One London Golfer and golf in England, this can be changed to a 1-2 hour drive). You can expect to find soundly designed, interesting holes, good course conditioning and a pretty setting, if not necessarily anything unique to the world of golf.
8 Course Rating – Best in Region
One of the very best courses in its region (although there are more 8s in some places and none in others), and worth a special trip to see. Could have some drawbacks, but these will clearly be spelled out, and it will make up for them with something really special in addition to the generally excellent layout.
9 Course Rating – Outstanding
An outstanding course, certainly one of the best in the world, with no weaknesses in regard to condition, length or poor holes. You should see this course sometime in your life.
10 Course Rating – Nearly Perfect
Nearly perfect; if you skipped even one hole, you would miss something worth seeing. If you haven’t seen all the courses in this category, you don’t know how good golf architecture can get. Call your travel agent immediately.

What do you think of the Tom Doak rating scale? Agree with it? Do comment below.

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