Golfweek raters in Spain and Portugal: Building memories

Golfweek raters in Spain and Portugal: Building memories

Raters

Golfweek raters in Spain and Portugal: Building memories

A special team of Golfweek’s Best course raters was on a 10-day trip through Portugal and Spain.

Correspondent James R. Hansen weighed in with multiple posts from the road, detailing how he and 23 others fared while taking in courses by the likes of Arthur Hills, Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Jr., Cabell Robinson, Frank Pennink, Martin Hawtree, William Mitchell and Jack Nicklaus. This is his final post about the trip.

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A final but important note about our Iberian trip: It was not all about golf. Hardly. First and foremost, it was about fellowship, becoming friends – even close friends – with fellow raters from all over the U.S. and even a young man from The Netherlands.

We told stories, shared pictures of grandkids, laughed at one another’s jokes and our own mishaps. We learned once again – if we ever forgot – that the essence of golf is the sharing of a journey, through good times and bad, hopefully to come out a happier person. I think all 24 individuals who made this nearly two-week trip through Portugal and Spain feel all that happened for us, and more.

My blogs have all been about golf, but we did so much more. Our group took a boat to Morocco. We rode camels. We haggled with shopkeepers over the price of rugs, exotic spices and smelly leather belts. We saw that people lived in circumstances much different than our own, and that there are things for us to be concerned about that far outweigh our golf handicaps or how many skins we may have won on the course that day.

We took a harrowing bus ride up the Rock of Gibraltar, peered across the strait to Africa and entered a huge mountain cave full of astonishing stalagmites and stalactites where subterranean (actually sub-Rock) music concerts are performed. We got up close and personal with the “Barbary apes” (macaques) that rule over the upper regions of Gibraltar.

Every day was not just a new golf course, it was a new adventure. Unlike our bad drives, chunked chips, 3-putts and worse, it was all unforgettable. Amazing, the places golf take you.

I can’t wait until the next time.

– James R. Hansen, a longtime Golfweek’s Best course rater and occasional contributor, is professor of aerospace history at Auburn. He is the author of “A Difficult Par: Robert Trent Jones Sr. and the Making of Modern Golf,” winner of the U.S. Golf Association’s Herbert Warren Wind Book Award for 2014.

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