|The 14th at Rosapenna (Sandy Hills)|
The top 30 courses according to Golf Digest Ireland (GDI) are in the left hand column - call these the benchmark as they're taken from the Top 100 Irish Golf courses. The remaining rankings are alongside, showing which Irish courses make the top 100 GB&I ranking. The overall GB&I ranking is then shown in brackets.
Of the five rankings, four list Royal County Down (RCD) at number one, with the other listing the Newcastle course at number two. That's consistency for you. Thereafter it all becomes very interesting with courses such as Rosapenna Sandy Hills (25th, 11th, 10th, 13th and 9th) and Tralee (7th, 18th, 11th, 8th, 16th) exhibiting the biggest swings, Ballyliffin (Old) being omitted from two lists, and The Island remaining firmly between 12th and 14th place. Don't forget that all the publications have different assessment criteria/panels.
It is no surprise that links predominate... especially as the fifth list (NCG) only deals with links courses.
|The intimidating drive on Royal County Down's 11th hole|
|Approach to The Island's 13th - one of the toughest par threes on the island|
Rankings alway cause controversy and are rarely as useful as they first appear because golfers have different views on what makes a golf course great. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all, and between companions, performance, location, condition and weather, we can all make flash judgements about a course.
|The 4th at Portsalon.|
My only recommendation is that you pick a couple you haven't played before and make yourself a promise to play them this year. How else will you be able to experience - and rank - Ireland's golf courses for yourself!
Here are my ten best Irish Golf photographs of the year... for a little added inspiration.