‘Rough Meditations’ by Bradley S. Klein

By: Dr. John Wagner

At the start of this book is a long section about caddies. For awhile, I thought I was in for more mildly interesting golfing stories, but ones with little new value to a reader of many golf books and magazines.

But then the next few sections (there are no chapters) heightened my interest, and I gained fresh insight into some old topics. Klein’s discussion of golf-course ratings is one. How do magazines really pick the best courses? To me, it’s like trying to pick the best-looking woman or man. This is really hard to do and very subjective.

Klein points out that a lot of courses get missed because of a lack of media hype. Personally, I think that the media hype a particular course just so they can play it for free.

Let me digress and give an example, Bandon Trails. This Coore-Crenshaw design got a lot of attention, with the media seemingly hailing it as the greatest course since the opening of Pacific Dunes. While I’m no architect, I can recognize courses that are really special. I played Bandon Trails it and enjoyed it. But I wouldn’t drive eight hours to Bandon, Oregon, from Seattle just to play it.

I will, however, travel to play Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes as whenever possible. I’ve talked to many friends who go to Bandon on a regular basis and the vast majority feel the same about the three courses. Because of the media hype, they expected to be blown away with Bandon Trails but were a little disappointed after playing it.

Klein’s book points out that some courses get into the top 100 right after opening and a few years later disappear from the list. I think this will happen with Bandon Trails. But hey, it’s only my opinion and I’ll go back to play both of the other courses any time.

Klein also has a nice section about Astoria Country Club on Oregon’s northern coast. I’ve played this course many times. This story is fun to read and typical of why I like this book.

His section on "gaining points with the spouse," and how to bank and save those points, also hit home. Seems as if golf spouses on the East Coast think the same as those out here in the West. In both places, those points can disappear in a hurry.

Klein’s writings about Ireland and Scotland are really well done; you can almost feel his emotion attachment to these links courses. Also charming is the discussion on the type of person he likes to play with.

The book’s final section, "What's Really Important," reminds us that golf is just a game. People are what are important in the world and around us, not which course is the best and what happened with our last golf shots. Golf is great, but it’s still only a game. Klein does a good job of putting that in perspective.

“Rough Meditations,” by Bradley S. Klein, John Riley & Sons, 2006, $18.95, 228 pages, ISBN 0-471-78686-1

Dr. John Wagner has been a Seattle dentist for 37 years. He’s been published in several dental journals as well as had several articles appear in the turf magazine for Pacific Northwest golf course superintendents. John has served as a guest lecturer at the University of Washington Business School for several years and as a guest lecturer for several dental societies. Dr. Wagner is the co-designer (with Steve Shea of the Berger Partnership) of a golf course in Japan that cost over $120 million and was built by Wadsworth Golf Construction. He’s a Past President of the Washington State Golf Association and a Trustee of the Pacific Coast Golf Association. John is currently a Member of the USGA Green Section and a Director of the WSGA.