Tuesday, December 23, 2014

National Club Golfer Top 100 GB&I Links Courses

Views over Narin & Portnoo... a course that didn't
make the Top 100
National Club Golfer magazine (a UK publication) has put together a list of the top 100 links courses in the GB&I. Such rankings are always worth a look and especially in the wake of Golf Digest Ireland’s Top 100. Now, one of the most interesting things from an Irish perspective is how a GB magazine has the necessary resources to assess Republic of Ireland courses. 

In the introduction the magazine does spell out how it operated and how it put together its panel of experts... and some serious experts they are - but no Irish golfer/contributor is on the panel. So it raises eyebrows (mine anyway) when Irish courses get so neatly clumped together (38, 39 and 40, and 76, 77 and 78). Given that a third of the world's links are on our shores, shouldn't that be reflected on the panel?

For the full list on National Club Golfer, click here but let’s get something out there straight away – Royal County Down is number one and you'll get no argument there. A total of 25 Irish links make the top 100.
Copyright Kevin Markham, Silloth on Solway GC
Views to the clubhouse at Silloth on Solway in Cumbria
(ranked 46th, three behind Ballyliffin Old)
You'll find these below and, as with any ranking, there are a few oddities – both in terms of inclusion and exclusion. It is interesting, for one, to see Ballyliffin (Old) ahead of its sibling, the Glashedy. Not many rankings could have them in that order. The positions of Portmarnock, Tralee, County Sligo and The Island would also be hotly debated by me. Can’t say that I see Carnoustie at number 3, either. Played it… it’s absorbing… it’s tough… but I’d put it behind a few Irish courses in terms of sheer golfing thrills… but then I would, wouldn’t I!

The beauty of Royal County Down. Views back over the 11th.

1 Royal County Down
8 Portmarnock
10 Royal Portrush
12 Waterville
15 Lahinch
19 Ballybunion (Old)
34 The European Club
36 County Louth
38 Rosapenna (Sandy Hills)
39 Doonbeg (Trump International)
40 Carne
43 Ballyliffin (Old)
51 Enniscrone
54 The Island
57 Portstewart
58 Tralee
59 County Sligo
76 Ballyliffin (Glashedy)
77 Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links
78 Portsalon
82 Donegal
84 Rosapenna (Old Tom Morris)
94 Ballybunion (Cashen)
95 Dooks
96 Royal Dublin

The par four 2nd at Ballyliffin (Glashedy)
So who missed out? Starting clockwise from Sligo town, the obvious missing contenders are:

  • Strandhill
  • Narin & Portnoo
  • Castlerock
  • Royal Portrush (Valley)
  • Ardglass (may not qualify as ‘links’ in the NCG definition)
  • Royal County Down (Annesley)
  • Rosslare
  • Connemara

Take a look at the list (and the panel) and then compare it to the Golf Digest Ireland Top 100, here.

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