Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ireland's Golf Rankings - The 20 Clubs That Missed Out Part II

Views over the 5th green at North West
Here is the second batch of ten courses that didn't make the Golf Digest Ireland Top 100 Irish golf courses... nine of which have green fees between €20 and €35. If that's not value I don't know what is.

Click on the course's blue name to be taken to the relevant website.

11.     Moyvalley – having endured a turbulent time since opening in 2006, Moyvalley has new owners and a course that is being returned to the condition of its early days. There is no particular drama to the low, swaying fairways or big flowing greens, but the rhythm of the landscape is almost hypnotic. Green fees (€20-€35)
Moyvalley's 10th
12.     Naas – another course often overlooked but, like Lisburn, it has the quality and variety of holes to see it challenge for a top 100 spot. The 1st hole has all the ingredients to show you what makes this a fun and impressive course to play. Green fees (€20-€35)
The 1st hole at Naas, doglegging right
13.     North West – given the condition, history and quality of North West – not to mention the inclusion of nearby Dunfanaghy in the Top 100 – the exclusion of this prestigious old links is insane. Low, twisting, subtle, devious… all the ingredients for a teasing links challenge that slides up very close to the sea. And don’t bring a slice to the first 11 holes. Green fees (€25-€60)
Views from the bar balcony over North West's low, svelte fairways
14.     Portarlington – calm, lazy and enjoyable golf between big trees and over mostly level terrain. The trees often get too close for comfort, so straight hitting has its advantages. Hole like 7, 14 and 15 are superb, while the closing stretch coasts beside the River Barrow. Green fees (€20-€25)
The tricky par three 3rd at Portarlington

15.     Rathcore – a personal favourite where a new course proves it doesn’t have to be long to be brilliant. Instead of blasting it all day, there’s a greater emphasis on clever and/or sensible shot-making. Smart greens, pretty water features and two gorse-drenched hillocks define an exceptional day’s golfing. Green fees (€20-€35)
The beauty of Rathcore on full display

16.     Rossmore – topsy-turvy stuff as holes ramble up and over a rolling landscape that promises big tee shots and tempting approaches. Apart from one level corner of the course there are few flat lies. Green fees (€25-€30)
The deviously tricky par three 6th at Rossmore

17.     Royal County Down (Annesley) It’s Royal County Down’s baby course, so enjoy the exceptional conditioning, three tantalising new holes, the same spectacular views and a round of links golf that will keep you guessing from start to finish. It’s a par 66 but with that much gorse and that much danger around greens, expect a lost ball or two. Green fees (Stg £20-£28)

The new 10th hole at Royal County Down (Annesley)
18.     Royal Curragh – Ireland’s oldest course with some original features and a springy turf that makes it playable all year round. Its heathland roots are in evidence with gorse splashed across one hillside and bumpy fairways slipping between the trees. The sheep have gone (now penned in) but there is still a wild feel to the place. The par five 1st makes for a tantalising start. Green fees (€25-€35)
The low, rumbling 8th at Royal Curragh

19.     West Waterford – unsung, but definitely worth a golfer’s time if anywhere near the Waterford/Cork border. It may not have the finesse for the Top 100, but its peaceful setting on the River Brickey, and its design by Eddie Hackett mean you can’t help but enjoy this relaxing course. Good movement to the land and enchanting par threes. Green fees (€25-€35)
The sweet par three 11th at West Waterford
20. Wicklow – the debate of Blainroe vs. Wicklow is often raised as the courses sit almost next to each other on the Co. Wicklow coastline. Each is different, with Blainroe having more traditional, parkland style (albeit above the shoreline with two holes playing directly above the sea), while Wicklow has a much more lilting, unpredictable rhythm that takes you to the water’s edge a few times. The 1st hole is a par five thriller and apart from a couple of uninteresting holes on the back nine, you’ll have lots of fun.  Green fees (€25-€35)
Copyright Kevin Markham
The blistering par five start at Wicklow

And a special addition...

21. Scrabo (yes, I know it’s not to everyone’s taste, but if you’ve been a regular visitor to this blog (or my books) did you honestly think I was going to leave this one out of my list!). The. Best. Golf. Adventure. On. This. Island.
The 17th at Scrabo. DON'T get distracted by the views.

The first ten courses are here.

There are others, undoubtedly. Let's hear your contenders...

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