Course Rater Confidential: What’s your favorite Top 100 Course you played in the past year?

Baltusrol 11 (Lower)

Baltusrol's Lower Course went from unranked to 57th in the world.

Evan Schiller

GOLF’s Top 100 course panelists are among the most respected and well-traveled course evaluators in the game. They’re also keen to share their opinions. In this series, we’ll unlock their unvarnished views on all questions course-related. Check out GOLF’s latest Top 100 Courses in the U.S., Top 100 Courses in the World, Top 100 Courses You Can Play, Best Municipal Courses in the U.S., and 100 Best Short Courses. Meet all of our Top 100 panelists here.

GOLF recently released its newest Top 100 Courses in the World ranking. What’s your favorite course on the list you played this past year for the first time, and why?

Steve Lapper (has played 84 of the World Top 100): Unfortunately, I had to cancel a trip that would’ve included a good number of first-time plays. Places like Ardfin, St. Patrick’s, Les Bordes and Lofoten Links lie ahead. The pandemic allowed for more domestic travel and trips. In Ohio, for example, four of us were able to see a group of old, restored, and new courses — all interesting. In my backyard, it was great to see the rejuvenation of Baltusrol Lower. Gil Hanse stripped all the mold and misconceived excess off this Tillinghast classic and beautifully restored it. What used to be a boringly tough slog is now far more strategic and fun. A vast improvement for sure.

John Cornish (has played 92 of the World Top 100): Living in Melbourne and having endured more days in Covid lockdown (262 days) than anywhere else in the world, it has been impossible to play anywhere new. If I can broaden this question to cover the past two years, the standouts are Somerset Hills, for the exceptional routing over interesting, undulating terrain; Old Town Club, for its wonderful redesign, including sympathetic tree clearing to open vistas and improve playing surfaces; Friar’s Head, as one of the best modern courses showcasing the best of Coore and Crenshaw design skills; and Augusta National.

Gordon Dalgleish (has played 73 of the World Top 100): I did not play Tara Iti in the last 12 months for obvious reasons but it remains one of my absolute favorites. Aside from a spectacular setting and routing, it allows and encourages the golfer to use each club in his/her bag in a wide variety of ways, as we imagine the founders of the game did themselves. To create a new course with modern technology and make it feel as though it is an old master is a rare talent.

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