What's it like playing the 100 best courses in the world? 3 of our raters share their secrets

A view of Royal St. George’s in England.
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Welcome to Road Rules, a series in which we pick the brains of expert golf travelers, ranging from professional golfers and caddies to globetrotting course raters and teachers. We’ll unlock their must-have travel items, go-to airline tips and more to inform you for your next golf excursion.
Meet a trio of GOLF Magazine’s course raters who’ve played our entire Top 100 Courses in the World list — and lived to tell the late. Better yet, learn from their years of experience and tips.
Age: 76
Hometown: Pinehurst, N.C.
Occupation: Retired businessman

Most courses knocked off on a single trip: “27.5 in 25 days, in GB&I and continental Europe.”
Most underrated course: “Palmetto GC. It’s superb and simple, challenging, fair and great fun — those are the toughest things to do simultaneously in golf architecture.”
Hardest course to check off the list: “Ellerston, because it’s on a family estate in a foreign country [Australia], making it hard to find connections. I finally got it done in 2016 through a friend.”
Best travel tip: “Be flexible and always have a backup plan because things do go wrong.”
I never travel without my: “Fiber One cereal. I’ve bought it in something like 45 countries.”
How you keep your spouse supportive of your quest: “Simple — pick the right one.”
Age: 68
Hometown: Orlando, Fla.
Occupation: Retired radiologist

Most underrated course: “Banff and Jasper Park in Canada. They’re Stanley Thompson designs, and he’s brilliant. They’re both scenic, well-routed, and Banff, in particular, is done in a big, rugged style that matches the mountainous environment.”
Favorite moment on the journey: “The first time I played Dornoch. My wife and I arrived after 9 p.m. I was so taken by the look that I decided to play it then and there. I finished sometime after midnight, with the rabbits running around. That was pretty unique.”
I never travel without my: “I never travel with a watch. On that same Dornoch trip, my sleep got discombobulated. I played North Berwick, and when I finished I learned it was 5:25 in the morning. I had no idea.”
Keys for making friends in high places: “Send thank-you gifts and reciprocate.”
Age: 58
Hometown: New York, N.Y.
Occupation: CEO, American Flag Football League

Most courses knocked off on a single trip: “I put 1,000 miles on a rental car without leaving England — Woodhall Spa, Ganton, Deal, Royal St. George’s, Rye.”
Hardest course to check off the list: “Augusta, as it’s the only course one cannot try to play — you simply have to wait for an invitation. But shuffling off for a day on my honeymoon to play Durban CC was a neat trick too!”
Best travel tip: “Don’t overdo it. You don’t want to be over-golfed when you’re experiencing the world’s best courses. Take your time and consider playing some more than once. There’s always another trip.”
I never travel without my: “Rainsuit and rain gloves. Buy the really expensive stuff — then it never rains.”
How you keep your spouse supportive of your quest: “Again: Don’t overdo it.”

A former executive editor of GOLF Maga­zine, Rothman is now a remote contract freelancer. His primary role centers around custom publishing, which en­tails writing, editing and procuring client approval on travel advertorial sections. Since 2016, he has also written, pseudonymously, the popular “Rules Guy” monthly column, and often pens the recurring “How It Works” page. Rothman’s freelance work for both GOLF and runs the gamut from equipment, instruc­tion, travel and feature-writing, to editing major-championship previews and service packages. and GOLF Magazine are published by EB GOLF MEDIA LLC, a division of 8AM GOLF


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