Book Review – Hacker’s Guide

The Hackers Paradise meets the Hacker’s Central. What a great combination! As all readers and members of The Hackers Paradise know all too well, THP is all about everything golf and the lifestyle that the game of golf has become for us. Hacker’s Central is a group of well, hackers that have come together to create Hacker’s Guide. Hacker’s Guide is a handbook of sorts, a handbook that every golfer has wished they had at one time or another. For the purpose of this review THP was sent a copy of Hacker’s Guide Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. This guide promises “Real Ratings by Real People”. Sounds good, let’s check it out shall we?

Hacker’s Guide to Minnesota and Western Wisconsin is a book of straight to the point, no holds barred reviews of over 283 golf courses including EVERY 18-hole public golf course in Minnesota. Hacker’s Guide does not promise anything other than honest non-partial reviews, as the book states, they do not sugarcoat their opinions; the reviews are insights and opinions by regular hackers just like us. Hacker’s Guide uses a unique Hacker Rating System to assess a course on its friendliness to an average golfer, not a pro. Hacker’s Rating System is certainly different than what we’re used to reading in the world’s greatest courses we read about in the big golf magazines. Different indeed, but is it useful? We’ll find out!

The Hacker Rating System is a very thorough scoring system that takes into account both on- and off-course factors when coming up with the overall rating. Independent raters from Team Hacker visited each course during the summer or fall, as anyone from the Midwest can tell you, this is prime time for playing golf in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. Team Hacker did more than just play the course and jot down thoughts; they played each course, talked to management, drove the carts, toured the facility, ate in the restaurant or bar, warmed up on the putting green and hit the driving range. Never did these raters ask for or receive any special treatment; they just called it as they saw it. Some of the factors that were considered in this Hackers Rating System are:

• Hospitality (25%)
• Overall rating of the friendliness and professionalism of staff and guests.
• Playability (30%)
• Difficulty and conditions factor into playability.
• Usability (20%)
• Overall use, factors such as signage and flow from hole to hole are included. A course’s website is also rated under usability.
• Facility (15%)
• Clubhouse, driving range, parking lot here, but also is the course walkable and are the holes close to one another factor into facility.
• Value (10%)
• Self explanatory, overall look at the cost, was the experience worth it and would you come back fall into the value category.

OK so now you know what we’re dealing with, let’s take a look inside. The courses are all listed out to be very easy to find the course you’re looking for. Listed out by name, city, region, and top ratings made the guide very easy to use and find the course you’re looking for. Once you find your course you’ll find everything you need to help you decide if you’d like to play there and everything you’d need to actually go about finding the course and contacting them for a tee time, very helpful! The review is a good solid and entertaining read as you attempt to learn a little more about your potential next outing. At the top of the page you have the course name, the region, all the important specifics such as website and phone number, and the course yardage. On the top right of the page is the listing of Hacker’s Rating System course rating. All the specific scores are listed with an overall at the end. Course prices can easily be found right below the overall score for the track you’re researching. The information does not stop there as each course is explained in interesting and fun detail. Directions to the course and tips to help you out on your way are all there in great detail. One thing that annoys me personally when playing a new course is not knowing if the yardages are easy to find and not always knowing if I trust them, well that’s all covered in the Hacker’s Guide so if that is something that is an important factor in my decision to play I’ll know full well going in ahead of time. Very helpful as far as I’m concerned.

How many times have you played a course for the first time and thought later, wow, if only I had played it before, I could have shot a lot better. Well Hacker’s Guide is just for you. I think this is a great idea and this is definitely something every golfer could benefit from, but here’s the kicker. Every golfer can’t benefit from this as there are currently only two guides available, Minnesota and Western Wisconsin and Twin Cities. I am lead to believe that there are efforts in place to expand their current offerings, but right now there just simply isn’t much of a market outside of the land of 10,000 lakes. The Hacker’s Guide is still in its infancy as the first guide came out in 2008 when they rated just the Twin City area courses so this thing is just getting going, I for one really wish the company well and hope they are able to continue to grow and expand their offerings to many more people across the upper Midwest and heck who knows, maybe even nationwide one day. For more information visit them online at where you can read more about some courses, see pictures and even inquire about becoming a Hacker’s Guide rater yourself. One drawback from my standpoint is that in order to see a full review online you are required to pony up $23.95 for a 12 month subscription to their website, I feel that free would be better, but I can certainly see their side as well as a free site would obviously eliminate the need for you to buy the book to begin with. So if you happen to live in Minnesota or western Wisconsin I feel it would be worth the $19.95 for you to go out and get this book, save yourself the wasted green fees if you find out the course just doesn’t do it for you, The Hacker’s Guide has you covered.

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Jason Kunze
Jason is a busy husband and father of 2 daughters who are both just starting to take up the game that he has loved for years. Golf is his passion, when Jason is not playing golf and testing equipment he's hanging out with all his friends on the THP forum discussing every aspect of this great game.
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