Royal County Down has been ranked third in Golf World’s Top 100 courses in Great Britain and Ireland, the highest of the 21 Irish entries in the poll.

It means that Ireland is the most prominent region in the rankings with almost a quarter of the entries being on Irish soil, more than Scotland and the prominent North West coast of England.

This year’s third place represents a one place drop for the host of the 2007 Walker Cup, but only Turnberry’s Ailsa course and Royal Birkdale rank above County Down currently

Of the other Irish courses, Royal Portrush lies in seventh place, with Waterville and Ballybunion Old separated by just one place in 12th and 14th respectively.

Courses from as far south as Old Head (76) and as far north as Rosapenna’s Sandy Hills (81) are also on the list that is compiled by a panel of players, journalists, cameramen and architects.

Rosapenna’s Director of Golf Frank Casey Jr is pleased the resort have managed to maintain their place in the Top 100, he said: “With over 3,000 courses in GB&I we are very happy to be in there.

“The rankings help with business as some people are fixated on playing only the courses listed in such polls, so from that point it is important to be included.

“The Top 100 Links courses would be fascinating. With so many great links courses in the British Isles including all the Open courses and classic links courses where the game started that would be a very interesting poll.”

At No. 85 the impressive Nick Faldo-designed Lough Erne in Co. Fermanagh is Ireland’s best new entry.

Full Irish rankings:

3. Royal County Down

7. Royal Portrush

12. Waterville

14. Ballybunion Old

16. Portmarnock Old

17. The European Club

25. County Louth

27. Lahinch

36. Doonbeg

47. Carne

59. County Sligo

60. The Island

63. Donegal

64. Ballyliffin Glashedy

72. Adare Manor

75. Mount Juliet

76. Old Head

79. Tralee

81. Rosapenna Sandy Hills

85. Lough Erne

93. Enniscrone