Golf Digest Ireland's Top 100 courses for 2015
Royal County Down

Royal County Down

It's time for the annual "debate" over the Golf Digest Top 100 rankings and while there will be many who disagree with the order, it has to be said that the readers had a big input this time with 80 golfers from an entry of 2,628 having their views heard.

The Golf Digest Readers’ Panel comprised golfers from all corners of Ireland who were asked to review courses and submit their views, making up 25 per cent of the total vote.

Using a panel of industry experts, Golf Digest Ireland spends months visiting and rating hundreds of Irish golf courses to produce the ranking which, they say, ultimately acts as a very important indicator of the state of Irish golf.

"... at the beginning of each year, we write to every club in Ireland with an 18-hole course and ask if any upgrade work has been undertaken over the previous 12 months or if they felt their position was not justified," writes editor Linton Walsh.

"No fewer than 81 golf clubs wrote back this year, outlining details of various projects they had addressed. That list, combined with the Top 100 from the previous year and the leading 20 golf clubs, which did not make last year’s rankings, were then scheduled for consideration and review. 

"Pádraig O’hUiginn, the former Chairman of Fáilte Ireland, has continued in the role as chairman and for the latest rankings. He was joined by Kate McCann (former Irish international), Valerie Hassett (Munster Interprovincial), Ally McIntosh (GDI course design/columnist), John Kelly (PGA professional and PGA Order of Merit winner), Dougie Heather (former chairman of International Sports Management and former International golfer), Phil Collins (PGA Professional), Linton Walsh (Editor of Golf Digest Ireland), Alan McDonnell (Head Greenkeeper at Adare Manor), Mark Magowan (PGA Professional), Michelle McGreevy (former Irish International), David O’Donovan (Secretary Manager) and Siobhán Cullen (Readers’ Panellist).

"The readers’ panel of 96, undertook their briefing on a beautiful March day. From this group 80 readers were selected to make up our 2014 panel. They went on to generate over 1,384 reports and ranking scores on golf clubs around the country, which accounted for 25 per cent of the final vote. 

"These reports and scores were discussed and, as always, they gave valuable insight through the eyes of everyday golfers, when the main panel met in November. 

"The big news is Royal County Down has regained the top spot as the number one golf course in Ireland and Portmarnock Golf Club has slipped down to second. Adare Manor remains the top parkland in the country and moves up one place in the overall rankings to nine.

"Other notable upward movers were Ballybunion – Cashen (up 10 places), Tulfarris (up 8), Blainroe (up 7), Strandhill (up 6) and Dooks (up 6).

"Co Louth slipped a couple of places due to upgrade work on the course and Glasson (down 9), Headfort - New (down 7), Woodenbridge (down 5) and Dundalk (down 5).

"New entries to the Top 100 list were New Forrest, Dunfanaghy and finally Macreddin coming in at 100."

The scoring system employed to assess golf clubs was as follows:

  • Shot making/variety  20 points
  • Design Variety 10 points
  • Wow factor 10 points
  • Memorability 10 points
  • Condition 10 points
  • Playability 10 points
  • Degree of difficulty/fairness 10 points

Golf Digest Ireland's Top 100 for 2015

Position Top 100 Ranked Golf Courses Movement
1 Royal County Down Up 1
2 Portmarnock GC Down 1
3 Royal Portrush Same
4 Lahinch Up 1
5 Waterville Down 1
6 Ballybunion (Old) Same
7 Tralee Same
8 The European Club Up 1
9 Adare Manor Up 1
10 Co Louth (Baltray) Down 2
11 Co Sligo Up 1
12 Ballyliffin (Glashedy) Down 1
13 The Island Up 1
14 The Old Head of Kinsale Up 4
15 Enniscrone Down 2
16 Belmullet (Carne) Same
17 Ballyliffin (Old Links) Up 4
18 Portstewart (Strand) Down 1
19 Mount Juliet Down 4
20 Donegal (Murvagh Links) Same
21 The K-Club Up 2
22 Killeen Castle Down 3
23 Portsalon Up 2
24 Dooks Up 6
25 Rosapenna (Sandyhills) Down 3
26 Portmarnock Hotel Links Same
27 The Royal Dublin Same
28 Doonbeg Links Down 4
29 Carlow Same
30 Fota Island (Deerpark) Up 2
31 Lough Erne Down 3
32 Carton House (Montgomerie Course) Down 1
33 Narin And Portnoo Up 1
34 Druids Glen Up 2
35 Cork Down 2
36 Rosapenna (Old Tom) Up 1
37 Concra Wood Up 4
38 Connemara Up 4
39 Slieve Russell Up 1
40 Killarney (Killeen Course) Down 1
41 Castlerock Down 3
42 Headfort (New) Down 7
43 Palmerstown Stud Up 2
44 Heritage Up 3
45 Carton House (O'Meara) Up 1
46 Seapoint Down 3
47 Malone Down 3
48 Portrush Valley Same
49 The K-Club (Smurfit Course) Same
50 Belvoir Park Same
51 Bunclody Up 3
52 Portumna Up 1
53 Dun Laoghaire Up 3
54 Luttrellstown Castle Down 2
55 Tramore Down 4
56 Ballybunion (Cashen) Up 10
57 Hermitage Down 2
58 Powerscourt West Same
59 Arklow Down 2
60 Royal Belfast Up 1
61 Clandeboye Up 1
62 Castletroy (New) Up 3
63 Dromoland Castle Down 3
64 Farnham Estate Up 3
65 Mount Wolseley Up 5
66 Powerscourt (East Course) Up 2
67 Tullamore Down 2
68 Westport Down 5
69 Rosslare Same
70 Strandhill Up 6
71 Esker Hills Up 1
72 Galgorm Castle Up 5
73 Glasson Down 9
74 Druids Heath Up 1
75 Dingle (Ceann Sibeal) Up 3
76 Rathsallagh Down 5
77 Castlemartyr Down 4
78 Shannon Down 4
79 Galway Bay Up 5
80 Laytown and Bettystown Up 2
81 Ballinrobe Same
82 Mullingar Down 3
83 Knightsbrook Up 5
84 Tulfarris Up 8
85 Dundalk Down 5
86 Grange Down 3
87 Galway Down 2
88 Castle Down 2
89 Ardglass Same
90 St. Annes Down 3
91 Blainroe Golf Club Up 7
92 Headfort Old Up 1
93 Balbriggan Down 3
94 New Forest NEW
95 Killarney Mahoney's Point Up 2
96 Woodenbridge Down 5
97 Moyola Park Down 2
98 Athlone Down 2
99 Dunfanaghy NEW
100 Macreddin NEW

Golf Digest Ireland's Top 30 Parkland Courses 2015

Position Top 30 Parkland Golf Courses Movement
1 Adare Manor Same
2 The Old Head of Kinsale Up 1
3 Mount Juliet Down 1
4 The K-Club Up 1
5 Killeen Castle Down 1
6 Carlow Up 1
7 Fota Island (Deerpark) Up 2
8 Lough Erne Down 2
9 Carton House (Montgomerie Course) Down 1
10 Druids Glen Up 2
11 Cork Down 1
12 Concra Wood Up 3
13 Slieve Russell Up 1
14 Killarney (Killeen Course) Down 1
15 Headfort (New) Down 4
16 Palmerstown Stud Up 1
17 Heritage Up 2
18 Carton House (O'Meara) Same
19 Malone Down 3
20 The K-Club (Smurfit Course) Same
21 Belvoir Park Same
22 Bunclody Up 3
23 Portumna Up 1
24 Dun Laoghaire Up 3
25 Luttrellstown Castle Down 2
26 Tramore Down 4
27 Hermitage Down 1
28 Powerscourt West Same
29 Royal Belfast NEW
30 Clandeboye NEW

Golf Digest Ireland's Top 30 Links Courses 2015

Position Top 30 Links Golf Courses Movement
1 Royal County Down Up 1
2 Portmarnock GC Down 1
3 Royal Portrush Same
4 Lahinch Up 1
5 Waterville Down 1
6 Ballybunion (Old) Same
7 Tralee Same
8 The European Club Up 1
9 Co Louth (Baltray) Down 1
10 Co Sligo Up 1
11 Ballyliffin (Glashedy) Down 1
12 The Island Up 1
13 Enniscrone Down 1
14 Belmullet (Carne) Same
15 Ballyliffin (Old Links) Up 2
16 Portstewart (Strand) Down 1
17 Donegal (Murvagh Links) Down 1
18 Portsalon Up 2
19 Dooks Up 4
20 Rosapenna (Sandyhills) Down 2
21 Portmarnock Hotel Links Same
22 The Royal Dublin Same
23 Doonbeg Links Down 4
24 Narin And Portnoo Same
25 Rosapenna (Old Tom) Same
26 Connemara Up 1
27 Castlerock Down 1
28 Seapoint Same
29 Portrush Valley Same
30 Ballybunion (Cashen) NEW