Jasper Miners’ search for the answers in golf course architecture sent him down the rabbit hole. What came out was Evalu18
It boiled down to an Amazon order. “I needed a couple of quid extra to get free shipping and one of the recommended books was either Tom Fazio or Jack Nicklaus’ book about golf course design,” Jasper Miners tells NCG.
“I bought two or three books on a whim for a couple of pennies each and that was what got me in.”
Miners grew up playing the best courses in Western Canada but got bored quickly – to the point where he put down his clubs.
But then he arrived in the UK around a decade ago and in the home of links golf, uneven lies and ferocious winds, he found himself reborn.
What had been a lost pursuit, a pastime dulled by target golf and criss-crossed fairways, again became a passion.
“I read those books, thought they were amazing, but little did I understand they were just the tip of the iceberg.
“From there, I started collecting books and reading. This whole world just opened up to me.”
We all consider the questions a golf course poses, whether it’s as simple as complaining about the bunker that always seems to catch our ball, or examining the courses of MacKenzie, Colt and Braid on a topographical level.
What we want ultimately is to play good golf courses – and that requires a little study.
“It adds a whole new dimension to the game,” Miners added of the desire for knowledge.
“There’s a quote from Tom Simpson ‘every golfer would get infinitely more entertainment out of their pastime if they would take the trouble to understand the meaning and intention of a great golfing hole’.
“For me, that’s what it is. When you walk round a course, it’s not just about playing it. It’s about taking it to the next level, trying to understand it, to get into their minds and answer the question being asked.
“It’s a heightened experience. Life is too short to play bad golf – that’s what I came to. If I have a chance to play really good golf, I need to do it.”
That brought Miners to build Evalu18, a new golf website cataloguing the architects who have developed and changed golf and the legacy they have left in their courses.
He explained: “I ended up carrying books in the boot of my car – Tom Doak’s Confidential Guide, Frank Pennink’s Homes of Sport, Donald Steel’s books on links. Then you had all the top 100 lists.
“I started to keep a list, collated all the information I had come across and the golf clubs, and then started researching them. It became apparent that some golf course architects produced high quality golf repeatedly.
“Basically, I came up with a catalogue of courses and then it was about visiting as many as I could, listening to other people you respect on the matter and distilling it down to a comprehensive list.”
That, in a nutshell, is how Evalu18 works. Whether that’s discovering new courses, or finding a primer to unlock the puzzle of golf course architecture.
But, in the midst of all of these thousands of courses, which is Miners’ favourite?
“I’ve got a real soft spot for Royal Worlington,” he admits. “I think it’s an amazing golf course. The parcel of land is minute, there are 9 holes, but the strategic value of that course is epic.
“It’s so subtle, you could be a member there for your entire life and still find new things to enjoy. You can play 18 holes in less than two hours, it’s a two-ball club, and it’s an epic little gem.”
To learn more about Evalu18, click on the website.