Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Backspin Magazine Rankings

[Photo: Waterville's 13th hole. Waterville ranked 6th]

Backspin Magazine have introduced a novel way of ranking Ireland's courses. Two years ago they separated parkland and links courses, and rated them as different entities. That was smart, because links courses generate particular passions - of the love/hate variety. Separate the two and no one can claim bias.

It was also smart to get an impressive panel of 44 judges that included golf journalists, golf professionals and amateurs. Each judge is asked to rate their top 15 courses, with 1st place receiving 250 points and last place 50 points. It's difficult to argue with that sort of approach...

… although I do have one problem with such an approach as it assumes that the 44 judges have played all the courses. What if ten of them haven't played Concra Wood, or a dozen haven't travelled to the far reaches of Narin & Portnoo (which isn’t even ranked)? But that's my only query and no ranking system is ever perfect.

Here are the rankings

[Photo: Connemara ranked 19th. The 14th is one of the best holes in the country]

Top 25 Links/ Shoreline:

1st Portmarnock

2nd Royal County Down 

3rd Royal Portrush (Dunluce) 

4th The European Club 

5th County Louth (Baltray) 

6th Waterville 

7th Ballybunion (Old) 

8th Lahinch (Old) 

9th County Sligo (Rosses Point) 

10th The Island 

11th The Royal Dublin 

12th Doonbeg 

13th Tralee 

14th Ballyliffin (Glashedy) 

15th Enniscrone 

16th Ballyliffin (Old) 

17th Old Head Kinsale 

18th Portstewart (Strand) 

19th Connemara 

20th Donegal (Murvagh) 

21st Belmullet (Carne) 

22nd Portmarnock Hotel & Links 

23rd Rosapenna (Sandy Hills) 

24th Dooks 

25th Rosslare

Top 35 Parkland:

[Photo: Adare - ranked 3rd - the par five 18th]

1st Mount Juliet
2nd K Club (Palmer)
3rd Adare 

4th Druids Glen 

5th Killarney (Killeen) 

6th The Heritage 

7th Palmerstown Stud
8th Headfort (New)
9th Carton (Montgomerie) 
10th Carlow
11th Killeen Castle 

12th Fota Island 

13th Lough Erne 

14th Cork (Little Island) 

15th Malone 

16th Slieve Russell 

17th K Club (Smurfit) 

18th Carton (O'Meara) 

19th Hermitage 

20th Westport 

21st Belvoir Park 

22nd Killarney (Mahony's Point) 

23rd Concra Wood 

24th Mullingar 

25th Tullamore
26th Luttrellstown Castle 

27th Bunclody 

28th Mount Wolseley 

29th Rathsallagh 

30th Grange 

31st Tramore 
32nd Glasson 

33rd Knightsbrook 

34th Shannon 

35th Powerscourt (West)

And because I can’t resist disagreeing, I shall limit myself to two comments in each category:

Links: there’s no Narin & Portnoo, and what is Belmullet (Carne) doing at 21? It should be in the top 5

Parkland: Killarney (Mahony's Point) at 22. Um, no. Too many great courses haven’t even appeared on the list… Rathcore, New Forest and Portumna for starters. And I won’t even mention Scrabo.

[Photo: Scrabo's 17th and the endless views beyond]

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