Golf Digest Ireland’s Top 100 Ranking 2010
 Royal County Down 

Royal County Down 

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

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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