WTA To Add Golf Courses to Hiking Guide
New features to add vital conditions and trip report information helping hikers seeking a series of tiny holes in the ground.
Knowing what to expect on trail is key to enjoying your hike. Is there still snow out there? Are there trees down? Is the trail muddy? All these elements help you go well-prepared, and WTA's been hosting trip reports for years to provide just that information.
But what about when your hike destination is a series of tiny holes in the ground?
Golfers, it turns out, have been missing out on this vital information. To remedy this, WTA will start adding trip reports for golf courses to our site. Information available will include hazards on the green, levels of grass saturation to help you prepare for wet feet (pack your favorite pair of wool golf socks) as well as general visibility for the day, and the daily Amtrak schedule, so you're not startled mid-putt by a train whistle.
Golf's already a frustrating sport — bad conditions and can result in multiple lost golf balls. Sandtraps, ponds, even bunkers; hazards abound on golf courses. Knowing conditions before you head out for the day is critical to planning for an enjoyable day on foot. Have you ever tried to plan a hike out of state? Not having trip reports to refer to makes it way harder. Trip reports help hikers made decisions every day, and now they help golfers, too.
Former local, semi-pro Tad Driveman threw his support behind the addition.
"We take such a huge amount of time out of our day to spend time in this place with just no idea what conditions will be like. It sucks to go out in a freshly-laundered white polo and get it mud-splattered during the first nine. I've ruined at least three shirts this year already."
The move isn't unprecedented, though. World-famous Chambers Bay is already in our Hiking Guide, thanks to the unique shared-use here; hikers can amble the perimeter of the course on a paved hiking path. Reports are often of the beach or the interesting structural concrete. But golfers need different information.
Local semi-amateur Joseph "The Hammer" Smith, known for his powerful drives, is pleased about the addition as well.
"We need to know if the course is saturated. When it's squishy, that can really make or break your day. Your drives don't bounce, and your feet get wet just walking from hole to hole. And of course you can't drive a golf cart on that."
Golf championships hosted here highlighted the need for specific conditions reports, too. As early as 2010, experts were citing the firmness of the greens as a point of concern for amateur and pro golfers alike. In 2015, when the U.S. Open was hosted at Chambers Bay, pro golfers started complaining about the layout of the course before they even played it.
They mocked the rolling hills and bare landscape, intentionally designed to bamboozle golfers. Designers were pleased to see their approach in action, but Arnie Merlap, a local caddy for one of the players in the Open pointed to how trip reports could counteract this deviousness.
"[Trip reports] could have helped these guys prep for the Open. I grew up playing that course and it's hard but I figured these guys could handle anything. I guess I was wrong, but if they can get helpful info from other, more amateur golfers who are more familiar with the course that's probably helpful."