|Galway Bay at 63rd|
Courses highlighted in green are those that have made significant moves.
Courses highlighted in blue are
new entries. The 3 new courses have replaced Moyola Park and North West... and Adare, which remains closed for renovations.
Please note that this listing was updated at 2.30pm on Sat 7 Jan, following an error on my part. This involves the mighty significant switch between Portmarnock and Royal Portrush, which have reversed places (shown in red in the list below). Royal Portrush has moved up to 2nd, with Portmarnock being knocked out of the top 2 places for the first time in over six years.
Perhaps the most dramatic/important moves are in the top 10, where Tralee usurps Ballybunion at number 6, and Royal Portrush swaps with Portmarnock for the number 2 slot.
The Tralee/Ballybunion switch is significant especially as the courses are close together on the Kerry coastline and they are two links revered around the world. Do you agree with the switch? When you see who is on the GDI's rating panel you'll appreciate how that change may have come about... that's all I'll say. And this is one of the inherent risks of having panellists who are intimately involved with a Top 100 course. What panellist wouldn't want to see their course move upwards!
|Views over Tralee's 12th hole.|
There is one other topical 'switch', which sees Castle rising above Grange for the first time, thereby claiming Dublin suburbia's top parkland spot (inside the M50). This is particularly relevant as the same switch happened in last year's rankings, only for the magazine Editor to reverse them at the last minute. An interesting one for Dublin golfers to debate, I'm sure.
Irish Golf Course Ranking Ranking 1-25
It's always intriguing comparing a course's ranking across a number of years (back as far as 2012 in these charts). Take Donegal at 21st, which is a non-mover this year... however it has been dropping gradually since 2012, when it was 16th. The Montgomerie at Carton House follows the same pattern.
Galway Bay, at 63rd, is doing just the opposite: it was 96th in 2012, and the constant upwards trajectory is a direct reflection on what has been taking place at the course. (And then there's the Christy O'Connor connection - see below.) Royal Belfast and Galgorm Castle are two more on a constant upwards climb.
|Doonbeg's par four 6th hole. The course is up 4 to 20th.|
Irish Golf Course Ranking Ranking 26-50
|Approach to Druids Glen's par four 15th. Up 3 to 30th.|
|The par three 13th at Ballinrobe, up 5 to 72nd.|
Irish Golf Course Ranking Ranking 51-75
A couple of big jumps for Christy O'Connor Jr's courses. Christy was involved with the panel last year for the first time and his influence seems to have extended into the 2017 ranking. Galway Bay, Knightsbrook, Moyvalley all make healthy upward moves.
|Rainbow over the 16th green at Moyvalley. Up 3 to 95th.|
Irish Golf Course Ranking Ranking 76-100
The biggest faller is Farnham Estate, which drops 7 places to 77th. Let's just say it should rise again after the upcoming €6 million investments have been completed. Other big fallers are St. Annes (down 5 to 92nd), Laytown & Bettystown (down 4 to 86th) and Ballybunion Cashen (down 3). Killeen Castle is also down 3 and may come as the biggest surprise, dropping to 26th.
The biggest climbers are all up 6 places: Macreddin up to 94th, Dundalk up to 78th, Galway Bay up to 63rd, and Killarney Killeen up to 33rd. Other significant climbers are Ardglass up 5 to 84th, Galway up 5 to 83rd, Ballinrobe up 5 to 72nd and, bizarrely, Hermitage also up 5 to 53rd. That's a big jump where no significant upgrades have taken place. Doonbeg's renovations have had a big impact, seeing the west coast links climb 4 places from 24th to 20th. County Louth has made it back into the top 10, having slipped out of the top tier for the first time last year.
|The acclaimed and bunkerless par four 14t at County Louth. Up to 10th.|
|Views down the 18th at Rathsallagh... NOT in the rankings.|
Let's hear your opinions - fire them over.
There will also be a brand new Top 100 soon and it will be sooooo much better... but then I would say that, wouldn't I!
Getting less and less enamoured with these rankings, it's all relatively personal anyway so take these with a shovel of salt. For example, I'd rather play Strandhill or even Corballis than Mount Juliet but that's just me. Top 10-15 are quite solid and if you were coming from abroad a good guide. Once you get beyond top 50 it's all a bit shaky though. I agree Wexford has no place here, along with Balbriggan, Royal Tara and the likes. Given the limited number of top quality courses, a top 50 of ireland might be more relevant, but obviously a big deal for courses to be 'top 100' so probably won't go away. Also, surely the courses should not change that much year by year, a biennial ranking might be wiser!ReplyDelete
Many believe a top 50 would highlight the 'best' courses and focus the attention of prospective visitors. That said, many of these would be links so, by increasing it to 100 courses, you get some of the lesser known parklands (e.g. Portumna) which deserve some attention.
All rankings should be taken with a shovel of salt... and they should be treated as a guide of courses for golfers to explore, experience and assess for themselves.
Yeah youre right, its not like any of these are 'bad' courses either. Portumna is a great sporty track . And great value. If I had an American visitor i'd send them to the likes of Carlow or Portumna (sadly they would rather play K club though!!)Delete
Doonbeg, a bad joke. Adare hopefully will return to the top 10, it's better than any parkland in my book. Castle is easily the best Dublin parkland, New Forest is a better design and has better conditioning than most of the courses listed 50 to 60.ReplyDelete
Good comments, Colm. Nice to hear New Forest getting some love. It was in fabulous condition when I visited (Oct).Delete
At the very end of the list,I can hardly see that Blainroe,which is undoubtedly a nice course,but far away from the variety of Wicklow or Bray, cheers from Sweden.ReplyDelete
Always fabulous to get comments from Sweden - thanks Mats. I'd agree with you entirely on Wicklow Golf Club. It's a huge amount of fun. And Bray rarely receives any credit at all.Delete
To Note: The Golf Digest Ireland Top 100 Ranking Panel meeting took place last October in County Sligo. The Golf Digest Ireland Top 100 rankings were finalised at this meeting and this list has NOT been changed in any way since. The Golf Digest Ireland Top 100 Rankings published by Kevin Markham last Friday was incorrect. The note posted yesterday by Kevin Markham, stating that the list had been updated following a late rankings change by the magazine is completely untrue, disappointing and unacceptable. Kevin Markham has today stated that this was his error. To view the correct Golf Digest Ireland Top 100 Irish Golf Course Rankings visit www.golfdigestTop100.ie.ReplyDelete
Indeed I have stated on the blog that it was my mistake - and very unfortunate it was too. I have to confess, I thought it was part of a cunning plan to mislead anyone who got their hands on the list early/through 'back channels'. I guess I never expected to see Portmarnock and Royal Portrush to change places... certainly not this year.Delete
Apologies for taking so long to publish your comment - hard to believe but I do have a life outside of my blog.
Interesting rankings. I always feel that closely grouped courses in rankings (1-5, 30-35) are subject to individual preferences so I don't put full stock in small moves. Nevertheless, reviewing all four quartiles made me realize just how many courses in Ireland I have played in my trips from the US over the last 15 years or so. I have another trip planned in April, and although I'll certainly be excited about playing Royal County Down, Royal Portrush Dunluce, and Portstewart Strand, I'll also be happy about stops at Ardglass, Castlerock, Rosslare, and Portrush Valley. I could also make a satisfying trip out of playing Laytown and Bettystown, Ceann Sibeal, Strandhill, Narin and Portnoo, Dooks, Portmarnock Links, and both courses at Ballyliffin. But that would mean I wouldn't find any great new discoveries! You really are spoiled for choice with great golf in Ireland. It's always a pleasure to visit!ReplyDelete
Thanks for that, Lee. Yes, playing the big guns is great... but nothing quite like discovering somewhere new for yourself. Have you played Portsalon/Narin & Portnoo, Cruit Island?Delete
Narin & Portnoo, yes, the other two, no. Maybe on my spring 2018 trip since I'd then like to return to Ballyliffin and Sligo. This year, I'm focused on the trophies in Northern Ireland--all of which I've played several times but suspect will soon raise their greens fees into the stratosphere as public attention becomes focused on them, even in shoulder season in April--as well as the nearby undiscovered courses (I'm going to Scrabo on your Hooked recommendation), and an indulgence at Rosslare, which I've played twice before and like as much as you do--cheap accommodations and the 100 euro pass will mean that I'll actually get to become familiar with a links course in one trip over three days rather than across multiple trips.Delete
Although I get the need for the first-time traveler to do the massive loop of Portmarnock, European Club, Old Head, Waterville, Tralee, Ballybunion, Lahinch, Sligo, and maybe Portrush/RCD (you'd be surprised how many Americans are stuck in the world of 40 years ago and won't go to Northern Ireland), by the time you do the third trip to Ireland, you understand both that there are great courses outside of that tourist route, that you don't need to circumnavigate, and that there is a need for a rhythm to a trip. Constant highs may be great, but I like building in crescendos to my trip--really good undiscovered courses (until the Irish Open went to Portstewart, that would have been the Strand there) as well as the acknowledged great ones. Both your game and your wallet benefit from that kind of planning. A friend is coming with me on the trip I have planned for April--RCD (both courses), Portrush (both courses), Ardglass, Scrabo, Portstewart, and Castlerock--and excluding flights, we'll do that portion of the trip for less than $2000. I just got an email from the Northern California Golf Association offering a May trip to Scotland, 8 days, 7 nights, accommodations, travel, the Old Course, Carnoustie, Castle Stuart, and Nairn as well as lesser courses that is $7000 without airfare. Having played all those course but Castle Stuart, I'll guarantee you my itinerary in Ireland is just as good for a whole lot less money. And that doesn't count that I might sneak a round in at Corballis the day I depart since my flight out of Dublin doesn't leave until 2 p.m. Can't beat the value in Ireland in the shoulder season!
Fabulous - thanks for that Lee. And best of luck at Scrabo. What it lacks in 'quality' design is balanced by the quality of the adventure. Let me know how you get on.Delete
Cruit Island is in my top 10 for fun (but maybe not "best") golf in ireland. Theres a bunch of courses here that are maybe rated as top 100 but coming from abroad you might not get what the fuss about. seek out places like Cruit Island (and dare I say it Corballis) you will get golf that at least is different from most of the rest of the world and therefore worth the trip. I cant imagine some of the modern parklands in Ireland would get within a sniff of top 100 in USA. Our links however, would.Delete
Who is on the Judging Panel ?ReplyDelete
Surely Ballybunion's Cashen course is worthy of a place in the top 50? It's a fantastic course with some of the biggest dunes in Ireland.ReplyDelete
Fran - it's obviously in your top 50 and it's certainly in mine. Obviously everybody else is simply bonkers!Delete
Surely Ballybunion's Cashen course is worthy of a place in the top 50? It's a fantastic course with some of the biggest dunes in IrelandReplyDelete
There is a little gem of a course in Enniscorthy and well worth a visit. Excellent greens and great value. Very under rated course and doesn't get the recognition it deserves. How is it not on this list?ReplyDelete
It's one of my favourite country courses, but it would struggle to replace any of those on the list.Delete
I couldn't entirely agree with you as I have been there quite a few times and just enjoy it every time. It is a pleasure to play. Yes there is stiff competition in that list and I couldn't see Enniscorthy breaking past the 90 barrier but there are few at the tail end that could be picked off. Some courses are just overpriced above the experience that they provide and just don't deliver the goods. Plenty of good 'country courses' providing great value for money for what you get.ReplyDelete
I absolutely love Rosslare, should it be higher? I think so. Looking forward to playing Standhill and Rosses Pt for the first time this year along with Carne/Enniscrone again. Is Strandhill really a non top 50 course? I guess I'll find out later this year.ReplyDelete
My experience of Rosslare is to bring plenty of balls - old ones that you don't want to see again!!!Delete
Sean, I like both Rosses Point and Strandhill. Rosses Point is a destination course (although still behind a number of courses on the visitor's typical itinerary), but I played Strandhill on my first trip to Ireland in 2000 and felt that I had found my own "undiscovered gem." I think the only reason Strandhill is not a top 50 course is simply length on the card--not the true playing length. Strandhill remains mostly undiscovered, and I daresay that many American visitors to Ireland on their third and fourth trips still haven't played Rosses/Strandhill/Carne/Enniscrone. And have no idea of the kind of spectacular golf they're missing. My 2018 trip to Ireland may very well be those courses along with a couple of days at Ballyliffin and some of the other gems on the west and northwest coasts--such as Narin and Portnoo, Connemara, and Rosapenna.Delete
It would be a shame to visit Portnoo and not get Cruit in as well. Follow that with Dunfanaghy (where Paul McGinley learned his golf) and then on to Rosapenna. As a member of Cruit of course I'm biased but that's a quartet that won't break the bank but will leave you breathless.Delete