TRAQ FAQ: What the hell is a Goat Track anyway?
A: Simply put, a Goat Track is a golf course that, in its usual state (of disrepair) would make a goat feel right at home, free to graze and roam the terrain passing for a golf course. (comments from a disgruntled golfer at a Track)
Goat Track is a term that's been around for a while, not just in golf. Outside of the world of golf, Goat Track most often refers to old railroads that traversed mountain passes (Appalachian/Chattanooga) and/or the hiking/biking trails that succeeded them (in Tennessee, for example).
If and when Goat Track is added to the Oxford English dictionary, we expect to see this pic next to the definition.
TRAQ FAQ: What are some key Goat Track criteria?
A: There are many and the Sherpas all seem to have a different area of expertise, but here's an overview:
TRAQ FAQ: I'm pretty sure I know what a Sherpa is, but what does it have to do with golf?
A: It doesn't have much to do with golf, but it has a whole lot to do with being a Tracker. In the conventional sense, a Sherpa is one who uses knowledge gained over a long period of time to become skilled in prevailing over the treacherous conditions of the Himalayas. Similarly, a Tracker who has achieved Sherpa status is undaunted by what would be perceived as perils on the links by lesser individuals. It doesn't hurt that the traditional Sherpas are Tibetan Buddhists; it's a zen thing, which any Sherpa at a Goat Track demonstrates as he deftly overcomes any number of adverse circumstances and bizarre lies. According to this article, elite Sherpas are referred to as Sherpa "Tigers", which seems odd because Tiger Woods, as good as he may be, doesn't appear to be Tracker material.
TRAQ FAQ: Keneyriffic? WTF?
A: Keneyriffic is a term that was coined to describe ideal weather conditions for bolting from work in downtown Hartford to take advantage of the twilight special at the nearest course, Keney Public, and enjoy the remainder of the day; it's also why the Keneyriffic Index is pegged to the 4 to 8 p.m. time window during the summer. Over the past few years there have been subtle nuances and variations added to the original definition.
TRAQ FAQ: I see the term "Track acumen" referred to a lot on the site. What's that all about?
A: "Track acumen" is a term coined by Sherpa JB in 2007 that, in its simplest form, describes course management at a Goat Track, but that would be shortchanging the term. For example, Mickelson clunked a punch shot off a tree root in his President's Cup match 9/29/07. If that were at a Track, his failure to execute said shot would reflect a lack of Track acumen. Since it wasn't at a Goat Track, it was just a shitty shot. Track acumen factors in one's ability to hit topspin over schmeggy ponds and off a turtle's back if necessary, play the 15% of a tree that isn't air like a violin, play masse shots off bridges like a xylophone, and otherwise demonstrate true mastery of one's golfing environment.
TRAQ FAQ: I see that in several of your Goat Track reviews, you seem to pay a lot of attention to the parking lots at these courses. What can this possibly have to do with golf?
A: As Goat Trackers, we try to soak in everything about a course and it all starts in the parking lot, if not on the approach to it. This is especially important when playing a Track for the first time. To the casual observer, the parking lot may either suggest nothing at all or at most be a way to quickly sum up a course, i.e. "The lot's unpaved, it must be a dump" or "Wow, excellent job of striping the lot; such attention to detail, this must be a first class course." Of course, there's much more to it than that and no self-respecting Tracker would make such broad generalizations. As any GT Sherpa knows, the parking lot at a Goat Track often mirrors a significant aspect of the course itself. For example:
These are just a few examples, but the point is that there's a lot that a true GT Sherpa focuses on long before hitting the first tee. As Sherpa JB says, "It's all about contemplation before execution."
TRAQ FAQ: I noticed that Sherpa JB seems to refer a lot to "Rules from the GT Seminar" (#34, #54, etc.). Using numbers as some kind of code seems odd. Can you explain?
A: I'll try to shed some light on it: The "Seminar Rules" basically stem from one ingenious, nay epiphanous, thought; that the ranting excuses for piss poor shots and the horrible lies that result from them waste time and slow down play on the links, keeping yourself and others away from the 19th far longer than necessary. Sherpa JB developed a list describing how any given shot could've possibly gone awry, saving everyone on the course a lot of time. While it's possible that running the "seminar rules" up to 54 could've been confusing, it made a great point and reinforced common sense.
There seemed to be a pressing need to take this list out of the shadows and possibly clean it up for the benefit of Trackers everywhere. And that has been done (with the attachment). If you need further guidance, a select group of GT Sherpas, including JB and myself, will be more than amenable to providing a three-day Goat Tracking Workshop at an east cost golf resort of our choosing, with all expenses paid by the attendees. GT Sherpa enlightenment may follow.
TRAQ FAQ: Why so focused on such seemingly sub-par courses?
A: I can't speak for the other Trackers, but to me golf is the most overblown pastime there is, which has nothing to do with how much I enjoy it. If you check enough websites that review courses, you'll see how unjustifiably snobbish people are, "the greens were too slow...there were dandelions in the rough...they didn't kiss my ass enough at the pro shop", etc. Enough already!
The Trackers aren't too fussy, we just want to get out and knock it around for a couple of hours; it's the imperfections of the courses that make them interesting and enhance the Goat Tracking experience.
If you think about it, is the better conversation, "You know, Chad, that was a most enjoyable round; the course was immaculate, I can't recall having a bad lie all day; absolutely splendid!" or is it, "Yeah you'd think I was going to be in a world of shit after I nicked that pebble with my driver and ended up in the cabbage, but after I fended off that rabid squirrel and hit that screamer off the tree root to the dead spot on the fairway, I knew I had my mojo working, running that putt from the dead spot 25 feet off the green to within 2 feet of the pin was the clincher; you need some major cajones to pull that off to save par."? Case closed!
TRAQ FAQ: What makes a good Goat Track?
A: This is a bit more general than the "Key Track Criteria" question, but equally subjective. It basically comes down to two things: character and adversity. There aren't too many courses that have been built recently that can be considered worthy of Goat Track status; probably because newer courses have a level of maintenance that's not Goat Track-worthy. Most newer courses seem to be targeted to single-digit handicappers, which means that few can play them well and/or enjoy them. Along those lines, the newer courses just lack "Track Charm" from a design standpoint. For example, the GT is basically built on a swamp; Canton Public (r.i.p.) had no in-ground sprinklers and was built partly on wetlands. It's all about classic layouts, odd features based on the land and not trying to be too cute with rolling greens, grass bunkers, etc. As for the adversity part, that's mainly a function of course conditions, not much sand in the traps (if any), seasonal burnout, animals wandering around, etc. As a rule of thumb, if a course has some odd or distinguishing characteristics that make it a good topic of conversation, then it has Goat Track potential.
TRAQ FAQ: Who's spewing out all this crap, anyway?
A: Mea culpa, I suppose; I am ultimately responsible for what ends up on this site, but it couldn't be what it is without the contributions of several Goat Trackers, including: Sherpa JB, Sherpa Jeff, GT Duke, Rabbit Ears, Friar Tuck, Ornery Bob, and Due Passe.