Darius Oliver's Planet Golf USA: An epic golf book
Count Darius Oliver as my hero.
The man has spent countless hours on the road, traveling to more than 800 courses around the world over the last five years to put together two epic volumes on golf courses, Planet Golf USA (the most recent) and Planet Golf.
In Planet Golf USA, he used the Top 100 lists from Golf Digest and Golf Magazine as his guide to tour elite courses around the country to profile. Most of them are private, so this might be your only peek inside the gates of some of them. He also found some dandy public ones along the way, like Erin Hills in Wisconsin and Chambers Bay in Washington.
Both Planet Golf books offer similar formats, anchored by eye-popping photos of the world’s most magnificent golf courses. His take on each course is not heavy on history and facts, just whimsical thoughts about his favorite holes and why he likes each routing. I like that. It’s simple and to the point, without a bunch of architectural mumbo-jumbo thrown in. The photos are the king of the book and Oliver knows that.
He is even brave enough at the end of Planet Golf USA to note how skewed the Top 100 lists of both magazines really are. He offers his own World Top 100 list, which I do not agree with, either. Hey, that is the fun of being an expert. Everybody has their own opinion.
He also lists categories of top holes, like his favorite opening and close holes, best par 3s, par 4s and par 5s, etc. I wish the lists were more visual, like the rest of the book. If that meant leaving a few of them out, so be it.
That small complaint aside, these are some of the greatest catch-all volumes of golf courses I have ever seen, true collector items for serious golfers who put forth great effort to find and play these courses.
While we all cannot be like Oliver the Great and wander the world, we can find time to peruse the pages of these books and feel like we have been somewhere special.
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