Royal County Down is number one in the 2010 Golf Digest Ireland Top-100 rankings.

Royal County Down has regained its spot as Ireland’s top course in the annual Golf Digest Ireland Top 100 ranking.

The Co Down links swapped places with Portmarnock, the number one course in 2009, as Royal Portrush rose one place to third and The European Club dropped one to fourth in a ranking compiled by a panel of golf course architects, former amateur internationals and golf administrators.

The Robert Trent Jones Snr designed Adare in Limerick is the only parkland course in the Top 10 while there are eight new entries in the top 50 alone and 21 in total. (Click here for 2008 ranking and here for 2009)

In a controversial move, Golf Digest Ireland has decided that “all golf clubs that we were aware of being in receivership, at the time of publication, were not considered in these rankings.”

Jack Nicklaus’ Killeen Castle in Co Meath, host venue for next year’s Solheim Cup, is the top new entry for 2010 at 14th followed by the Nick Faldo course at Lough Erne (22nd). Other high ranking new entries include the Old Tom Morris Course at Rosapenna (33rd), the West Course at Powerscourt (38th), Concra Wood in Co Monaghan (39th), The Valley Course at Royal Portrush (44th), Farnham Estate in Co Cavan (48th) and Luttrellstown (49th).

Golf Digest Ireland’s Top 100 Ranked Golf Courses 2010

 

Royal County Down1. Royal County Down

Position – Up 1

Where – Co. Down

 

 

 

Portmarnock GC

2. Portmarnock

Position – Down 1

Where – Co. Dublin

 

 

 

Royal Portrush3. Royal Portrush

Position – Up 1

Where – Co. Antrim

 

 

 

The European Club4. The European Club

Position – Down 1

Where – Co. Wicklow

 

 

 

Ballybunion GC5. Ballybunion (Old)

Position – Same

Where – Co. Kerry

 

 

 

Waterville6. Waterville

Position – Same

Where – Co. Kerry

 

 

 

Lahinch GC7. Lahinch

Position – U 1

Where – Co. Clare

 

 

 

Adare Golf Club8. Adare

Position – Down 1

Where – Co. Limerick

 

 

 

County Louth9. County Louth (Baltray)

Position –  Same

Where – Co. Louth

 

 

 

Tralee10. Tralee

Position – Up 1

Where – Co. Kerry

 

 

 

11. County Sligo (Rosses Point)
Position – Up 5
Where – Co. Sligo
 
12. The Island
Position – Up 6
Where – Co. Dublin
 
13. Mount Juliet
Position – Down 1
Where – Co. Kilkenny
 
14. Killeen Castle
Position – NEW
Where – Co. Meath
 
15. The K Club (Palmer Course)
Position – Down 5
Where – Co. Kildare
 
16. Ballyliffin (Glashedy Links)
Position – Down 1
Where – Co. Donegal
 
17. Enniscrone
Position – Up 3
Where – Co. Sligo
 
18. Royal Dublin
Position – Down 5
Where – Co. Dublin
 
19. Donegal (Murvagh Links)
Position – Up 30
Where – Co. Donegal
 
20. Portstewart (Strand)
Position – Up 4
Where – Co. Londonderry
 
21. Rosapenna (Sandy Hills)
Position – Down 4
Where – Co. Donegal
 
22. Lough Erne
Position - NEW
Where – Co. Fermanagh
 
23. Killarney (Killeen Course)
Position – Down 9
Where – Co. Kerry
 
24. Carlow  
Position – Up 8
Where – Co. Carlow
 
25. Belmullet (Carne)
Position – Down 4
Where – Co. Mayo
 
26. Seapoint
Position – Up 1
Where – Co. Louth
 
27. Druids Glen
Position – Down 5
Where – Co. Wicklow
 
28. Castlerock
Position – Same
Where – Co. Londonderry
 
29. Cork
Position – Up 8
Where – Co. Cork
 
30. Carton House (Montgomerie Course)
Position – Down 4
Where – Co. Kildare
 
31. Portmarnock Links
Position – Down 6
Where – Co. Dublin
 
32. Ballyliffin (Old Links)
Position – Up 6
Where – Co. Donegal
 
33. Rosapenna (Old Tom Morris)
Position - NEW
Where – Co. Donegal
 
34. The K Club (Smurfit Course)
Position – Up 6
Where – Co. Kildare
 
35. Portsalon
Position – Up 10
Where – Co. Donegal
 
36. Doonbeg Links
Position – Down 2
Where – Co. Clare
 
37. Dooks
Position – Up 30
Where – Co. Kerry
 
38. Powerscourt (West)
Position – NEW
Where – Co. Wicklow
 
39. Concra Wood
Position - NEW
Where – Co. Monaghan
 
40. Headfort (New)
Position – Down 10
Where – Co. Meath
 
41. Malone
Position – Down 8
Where – Co. Antrim
 
42. Slieve Russell
 Position – Down 6
Where – Co. Cavan
 
43. Belvoir Park
Position – Down 8
Where – Co. Down
 
44. Royal Portrush (The Valley)
Position – NEW
Where – Co. Antrim
 
45. Westport
Position – Down 2
Where – Co. Mayo
 
46. Dun Laoghaire
Position – Down 7
Where – Co. Wicklow
 
47. Old Head Golf Links (Kinsale)
Position – Down 18
Where – Co. Cork
 
48. Farnham Estate
Position – NEW
Where – Co Cavan
 
49. Luttrellstown
Position – NEW
Where – Co. Dublin
 
50. Dundalk
Position – Down 2
Where – Co. Louth
 
51 Narin and Portnoo
Position – Up 29
Where – Co. Donegal
 
52 Carton House (O’Meara Course)
Position – Down 5
Where – Co. Kildare
 
53. Tullamore
Position – Up 6
Where – Co. Offaly

54. Palmerstown Stud
Position – Down 23
Where – Co. Kildare
 
55. Druids Heath
Position – NEW
Where – Co. Wicklow
 
56. Connemara
Position – Up 2
Where – Co. Galway
 
57. Hermitage
Position – Down 5
Where – Co. Dublin
 
58. Tramore
Position – Down 4
Where – Co. Waterford
 
59. Bunclody Golf and Fishing Club
Position – NEW
Where – Co. Wexford
 
60. Glasson
Position – Down 14
Where – Co. Westmeath
 
61. Portumna
Position - NEW
Where – Co. Galway
 
62. Arklow
Position – Up 21
Where – Co. Wicklow
 
63 Powerscourt (East)
Position – Down 22
Where – Co. Wicklow
 
64. Killarney Golf and Fishing (Lackabane)
Position – NEW
Where – Co. Kerry
 
65. Dromoland Castle
Position – Down 12
Where – Co. Clare

66. Kilkenny
Position – Down 9
Where – Co. Kilkenny
 
67. Rathsallagh
Position – Down 17
Where – Co. Wicklow
 
68. Ardglass
Position – NEW
Where – Co Down
 
69. Clandeboye
Position – Down 7
Where – Co. Down
 
70. Bantry Bay
Position – Down 15
Where – Co. Cork
 
71 St. Anne’s
Position – NEW
Where – Co. Dublin
 
72. Shannon
Position – Down 4
Where – Co. Clare
 
73. Royal Belfast
Position – Down 2
Where – Co. Down
 
74. Castlemartyr
Position – NEW
Where – Co. Cork
 
75. Courtown
Position – NEW
Where – Co. Wexford
 
76. Mount Wolseley
Position – Down 34
Where – Co. Carlow
 
77. Balbriggan
Position – NEW
Where – Co. Dublin
 
78. Mullingar
Position – Down 22
Where – Co. Westmeath
 
79. Knightsbrook
Position – Down 35
Where – Co. Meath
 
80. Castle
Position – Down 14
Where – Co. Dublin
 
81. Galway
Position – Up 1
Where – Co. Galway
 
82. Galgorm Castle
Position – Up 8
Where – Co. Antrim
 
83. Strandhill
Position – NEW
Where – Co. Sligo
 
84. Grange
Position – Down 19
Where – Co. Dublin
 
85. Castletroy
Position – Up 4
Where – Co. Limerick
 
86. Laytown and Bettystown
Position – Down 2
Where – Co. Meath
 
87. Skellig Bay
Position – Down 13
Where – Co. Kerry
 
88. Ashbourne
Position – Down 3
Where – Co. Meath
 
89. Galway Bay
Position – NEW
Where – Co. Galway
 
90. Athlone
Position – Down 14
Where – Co. Roscommon
 
91. Ballinrobe
Position – Up 5
Where – Co. Mayo
 
92. Faithlegg
Position – NEW
Where – Co. Waterford
 
93. Ballybunion (Cashen)
Position – Down 6
Where – Co. Kerry
 
94. Blainroe
Position – Up 1
Where – Co. Wicklow
 
95. Woodbrook
Position – Down 26
Where – Co. Wicklow
 
96. Letterkenny
Position - NEW
Where – Co. Donegal
 
97. Curragh
Position – Down 5
Where – Co. Kildare
 
98. Rosslare
Position – Down 22
Where – Co. Wexford

99. Esker Hills
Position – Down 24
Where – Co. Offaly
 
100. Roganstown
Position – Down 27
Where – Co. Dublin

Golf Digest Ireland’s Top 25 Ranked Links Golf Courses

 

1. Royal County Down
2. Portmarnock
3. Royal Portrush
4. The European Club
5. Ballybunion (Old)
6. Waterville
7. Lahinch
8. Co. Louth (Baltray)
9. Tralee
10. Co. Sligo
11. The Island
12. Ballyliffin (Glashedy Links)
13. Enniscrone
14. Royal Dublin  
15. Donegal (Murvagh Links)
16. Portstewart (Strand)
17. Rosapenna (Sandy Hills)
18. Belmullet (Carne)
19. Seapoint
20. Castlerock
21. Portmarnock Links
22. Ballyliffin (Old Links)
23. Rosapenna (Old Tom Morris)
24. Portsalon
25. Doonbeg

Golf Digest Ireland’s Top 25 Ranked Parkland Golf Courses

1. Adare
2. Mount Juliet
3. Killeen Castle
4. The K Club (Palmer)
5. Lough Erne
6. Killarney (Killeen)
7. Carlow
8. Druids Glen
9. Cork
10. Carton House (Montgomerie)
11. The K Club (Smurfit)
12. Powerscourt (West)
13. Concra Wood
14. Headfort (New)
15. Malone
16. Slieve Russell
17. Belvoir Park
18. Dun Laoghaire
19. The Old Head of Kinsale
20. Farnham Estate
21. Luttrellstown
22. Dundalk
23. Carton House (O’Meara Course)
24. Tullamore
25. Palmerstown Stud

According to Golf Digest Ireland:

Since we started this process of grading courses, it has served to highlight the splendid work clubs throughout the country have been doing to upgrade their facilities. This year, the panel has been modified from 2009 with the addition of some fresh blood to help ensure this massive undertaking got the attention it deserves.
Eddie Connaugton, an esteemed agronomist; Kate McCann, an experienced Curtis Cup Player; Valerie Hassett also of the Curtis Cup ; Cecil Whelan, founder of the famously charitable Links Society and a man this magazine voted as one of the Top 50 most influential people in Irish golf; and Ally McIntosh, the course designer and a writer of regular architecture columns in these pages are all new to the panel, but have the kind of expertise in the industry that is indispensable when trying to make these tough decisions.
They joined our existing panelists Declan Branigan, agronomist and course-designer; Mark Gannon, a Royal and Ancient selector; Michael McCumiskey, the Secretary of the PGA Irish Region; Garth McGimpsey, a former Walker Cup captain; John Quigley, of the Association of Irish Golf Club Secretaries and, of course, the panel’s chairman: Pádraig O hUiginn.
 
The decision process
76 golf clubs wrote to the panel, either to detail various upgrade work that had taken place over the course of the year, or to request a visit. Each one was visited and accessed over a four month period, as was a further list of 29 golf clubs who did not make last year’s rankings but merited another assessment.
Over a four month period, these golf clubs were visited and assessed.
In October, the panel met for the final time and discussed and debated their individual assessments. Through agreement, 20 clubs were selected that could possibly make it into the top ten. The panel then voted on these courses using a marking system from one to 10, under these headings:
 
- Shot making/variety 10 points
- Design variety 10 points
- Memorability 10 points
- Condition 10 points
- Playability (all handicaps) 10 points
- Degree of difficulty/fairness 10 points

 
Once the Top-10 had been decided, the panel then debated what 20 clubs could possibly make it into the 11-20 bracket, and the individual voting process was repeated. The same process was continued throughout the 100 positions.
 
All golf clubs that we were aware of being in receivership, at the time of publication, were not considered in these rankings.
 
The Panel:
Pádraig O hUiginn
Eddie Connaughton
Kate MacCann
Valerie Hassett
Cecil Whelan
John Quigley
Declan Branigan
Michael McCumiskey
Mark Gannon
Ally McIntosh
Garth McGimpsey