Once again, the age-old debate of course ratings / rankings or their relevance is raised with the release of Australian Golf Digest’s ratings this week.

It raises a lot of debate, discussion (some of it heated), opinion and parochialism and I guess in an era where we are constantly craving for a greater acceptance of the game then such exposure can only be a good thing.

It also, no doubt, assists the respective media outlets to raise money in the form of advertising and offers good and at times controversial content.

I have however always been an advocate of a golf course being good if you yourself like it. It does not matter to me what others think – I can form my own opinion and I value my own thoughts ahead of those of the eclectic mix of panellists often put together to formulate such lists.

There is no reason why you can’t hold an opinion equally as sound as those on any panel although the benefit they have of course is that many will have had the chance to at least see and perhaps play many of the courses under consideration.

But have they? I wonder how many of the panellists on any such panel have played the golf courses being analysed and therefore is the final summary a fair and reasonable assessment of the opinions of those on the panel.

In my time in the golf industry I have seen, at times, a desperation by some golf courses who appear keen to do anything to have their course listed amongst the best in the land.

To some extent I understand that desire as they can then use the result as a marketing tool (if those marketing a facility are capable of doing so effectively that is) and turn a high listing into commercial benefit and there is nothing wrong with that.

But I get back to the point I made earlier. These lists are not gospel they are opinions and we know what people say about opinions.

If you like a golf course and you enjoy its challenges and rewards and get fun out of the experience then play it again and again and again. That will be the feedback a golf course needs to tell those involved in its management just how good it is and not a listing put together in many cases by those who have no greater right to an opinion than you the user.

Back yourself and your judgement and don’t be offended if the golf course you like has not made the ‘top 100’ or whatever criteria is relevant.

Conversely, don’t get too carried away if it does.

Any time golf courses are being discussed as much as they are during a survey release is a good thing but remember to keep the results in perspective.

Use it as a guide perhaps when considering where you might play on a golfing holiday or even in your local district but don’t believe, because it is written, it is how it is.

There is no better judge of a golf course than the individual who pays his (or her) money for the experience. They will know if they want to play it again or put it in the never to be played again basket.

That is the most accurate of surveys.