A list of the moment: Why our latest Top 100 You Can Play ranking is so timely

torrey pines

Torrey Pines, No. 72 on our Top 100 You Can Play list, will play host to the 2021 U.S. Open,

Patrick Koenig

The list we published Tuesday is the best one in golf: the courses you can play. You, me, anybody.

I don’t know when we’re going into the next Age of Aquarius, but I do know that this is the age of inclusion. Pine Valley is going to admit women. Augusta the golf club is making a huge, long-term health-and-housing commitment to Augusta the city. Seminole is hosting a Walker Cup. The walls are coming down. They’re not on our list. If they want on, they know what they have to do.

On Monday — the day many private courses are closed — I played with three friends at a muni outside Philadelphia called Jeffersonville. It’s a pure, true Donald Ross course with some of the most comically difficult greens you could ever see. (As the man once said, greens are to a golf course what eyes are to a portrait.) The land heaves. The holes, many of them, curve. The collective green fees for our foursome was about $120, with three pull carts. The course was busy and still we played in four hours. It was hard to lose a ball.

What’s not to like? Absolutely nothing.

We played golf.

Jeffersonville, a Philadelphia delight. Christian Hafer

It was as pure as any golf experience could be, anywhere, and this is part, but only part, of what made it: Jeffersonville’s doors are open. Just as the doors on every course on our You Can Play list are open.

Inclusive is the word of the moment and it’s a good one. But the phrase is better: Our doors are open.

Nobody at Jeffersonville cared what we were wearing, where we went to school, whether we called a bunker a trap. There’s a date-and-time sign that marks the entrance. Hey, somebody’s got to pay the bills.

jeffersonville golf club
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The course Jeffersonville reminds me of most, among the Philadelphia courses, is a Ross course about five miles from Merion called Gulph Mills. The Dukes brothers, from Trading Places? They’d be right at home at Gulph Mills. Gulph Mills is as charming as a club and course could be with some of the most comically difficult greens you could ever hope to see. Hope. A path to Randolph and Mortimer would be helpful. Good luck with that.

The number for the Jeffersonville pro shop is (610) JE9-0422.

This list we published has some spectacular entries. Pebble and Bethpage Black and various others that have become deservedly famous through the lore of the game and the power of TV.

Here are three celebrated courses, in three countries, you can play, but they are not on our list, because they don’t meet our geographic requirements. (Our courses are in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean.) But they’re three good courses.

*Royal Melbourne in Australia, where the Presidents Cup was played in 2019;

*Royal St. George’s, where the British Open will be played in July;

Pebble Beach
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*The Old Course in Scotland, where Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods won Opens, and Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson did not.

Royal Melbourne is open for visitor play three days a week.

You can book a tee time at Royal St. George’s on the club’s website.

The St. Andrews website hits you with this outstanding sentence early on: “The Old Course at St. Andrews Links is where the game was first played 600 years ago, but it’s easier to obtain a tee time than many might think.”

They practically invented the game, the Scots and the English and the Aussies. If they can open their doors, at least now and again if not more than that, why can’t we?

In the meantime, GOLF.com is pleased to present to you a spectacular list of courses you can play. You, me — anybody. Bring your clubs and your credit card. Your game, if you have it. That’s it. 

Michael Bamberger welcomes your comments at Michael.Bamberger@Golf.com

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Michael Bamberger

Golf.com Contributor

Michael Bamberger writes for GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. Before that, he spent nearly 23 years as senior writer for Sports Illustrated. After college, he worked as a newspaper reporter, first for the (Martha’s) Vineyard Gazette, later for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He has written a variety of books about golf and other subjects, the most recent of which is The Second Life of Tiger Woods. His magazine work has been featured in multiple editions of The Best American Sports Writing. He holds a U.S. patent on The E-Club, a utility golf club. In 2016, he was given the Donald Ross Award by the American Society of Golf Course Architects, the organization’s highest honor.