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Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you one of the luckiest groups of golfers on the planet: the GOLF Magazine course-rating panel.
A total of 109 raters — of various backgrounds, ages, nationalities, etc. — come together every year (sometimes twice a year!) to vote upon the rankings we publish in the magazine and on GOLF.com: Top 100 Courses in the World, Top 100 in the U.S., top munis, short courses, public courses, you get the point. Each list of candidates runs much longer than 100 courses, with those in the 101-120 range barely missing out on our coveted lists by fractions of a point.
The man behind it all, Ran Morrissett, has been critiquing courses for decades, and his main takeaway from the 2021-22 World list?
“It’s a brand new day for inland golf,” he said in a recent conversation with two of his fellow raters, Simon Holt and Thomas Brown (see video above); Morrissett was referencing his experience at the new-and-improved Baltusrol Lower course, in New Jersey, which was recently restored by Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner.
In a wide-ranging discussion, Morrissett, Holt and Brown also delved into what went into their latest rankings of the Top 100 Courses in the World, what surprised them about the new list, trends that surfaced, and much more.
“So what you’re saying is that it’s taken 150 years for U.S. golf to come around to something we’ve known all this time, Ran?” Holt said with a chuckle. He hails from Scotland, where fast and firm golf has sustained for as long as, well, ever.
Come for the resurgence of inland, century-old courses and stay for the end of the conversation when our raters pull out their bucket lists and reveal where they hope to peg it next. As you’ll see, the rating gig can be glamorous at times, and also mean four-flights-in-a-day at others.