Dear Google Maps: An open-letter plea from every golfer everywhere

October 10, 2019
A Google Maps view of some of the best courses in the United States.

To: Google
Attn: Maps Department

Dear Google Maps, how are you?

My name is Josh, a golf writer, golf fan and player of, well, golf. I’m writing today not to complain, but to suggest one dynamite idea that myself and hundreds of thousands of golf-lovers would gush over. And it’s a relatively simple one: Can you please assign the corresponding hole numbers to golf courses on Google Maps?

That’s it! It’s not that hard, right? I mean, it’s not like I asked you to fix golf’s slow-play problem. I’m guessing it’s just some sort of code you gotta enter, although I don’t really know how code works, but I assume you guys or gals could take care of this after a lunch break. (Lunches are free there, right? That’s awesome.)

Here’s the deal, Google. You seem to know where I am at all times and your Google Home assistant thingy can order me a pizza, so why can’t we see 18 tiny numerals overlaid on your maps of our favorite courses? You know that old fort I made in my parents’ backyard 25 years ago? That’s still clear as day when I zoom in close. Remarkable! If you can do that, surely you can do this.

Before you consider tossing my Internet letter in the trash, let me explain. Golf is all about visualization (aside from the driving and chipping and putting). Not all of us are like Brooks Koepka, who just shows up and shoots 68 wherever he goes; we need to study. There are already handy apps for on-course management, of course. (You might consider Golf Logix, which is owned by our parent company.) But this Google Maps add-on would be useful for more causal course browsing. With a golf trip looming or a weekend tee time scheduled, what Average Joe doesn’t spend a few workin’-man hours dissecting the canvas on their screen of choice? Heck, I ogle Pine Valley every Tuesday just for fun. There’s much to calculate for us golfers, and this is where you come in. Your numbered holes, for example, would help us with:

1. How far is my carry on the 1st hole?
2. What club will I hit on the first few holes? (Good starts are important!)
3. Where will the wind most likely be coming from?
4. When will I be forced to hit my first long-iron? (Personally, I need to prep for this!)
5. Can my buddy avoid a greens fee and sneak on from the road behind the 2nd tee?
6. How close is the 1st tee from the pro shop? (i.e. Do I have time to fast-walk there after I arrive late and decide to buy a hat?)

All of these decisions are paramount. Now, there are some courses where you can get the scorecard layout or other sites that provide this service for a hole-by-hole view, but then I have to leave my Maps app and compare and, well — multiple windows! Ahh!

Let’s take the aforementioned Pine Valley as an example. It’s regarded by many as one of the best and most exclusive golf clubs in the world. If John Bogeymaker happens to score an invite, Mr. Bogeymaker ain’t showin’ up to that place cold. He needs intel. Like this hole, for example.

A view of the par-4 12th hole at Pine Valley via Google Maps.
Google Maps

If the tees are up on this par-4, you can get crazy and try to reach the green! But what hole is this? It’s the 12th, which means golfers don’t have to worry about pulling driver or playing it safe until after the turn, but what if it were the 1st hole? We need time to prepare! As a Google Maps-golf-course-dissecting connoisseur, there are certain tips to finding where the 1st tee is and routing your way from there, but nothing is perfect. (The clubhouse, parking lot, putting green or driving range are good starting points, but at Pine Valley the range is in no man’s land and there is no obvious clubhouse near the opening hole.)

This is all I’m looking for, Google Maps, something like this (I picked red, but you guys do you):

Behold, Google Maps with numbered holes on golf courses!
Google Maps

Voilà! But please know this isn’t just for me. This is for every insurance salesman scoping out his weekend tee time at 3 p.m. on a Friday, every father of three daydreaming of Augusta National instead of listening to that conference call and every junior salesman counting down the days to his buddies getaway instead of focusing on that redundant PowerPoint slide.

Don’t do this for me, Google Maps. Do it for all of us. The golfers.

Yours in birdies and bogeys,
Josh Berhow