Mount Juliet in Co Kilkenny has been voted Ireland’s top parkland course by Backspin Golf Magazine.The Dunluce course at Royal Portrush and the Jack Nicklaus designed Mount Juliet have been voted Ireland’s top links and parkland courses respectively by a panel of 55 experienced golfers in BACKSPIN magazine’s 3rd biennial Course Rankings poll.

The Dunluce course, venue of the 1951 Open Championship and this year’s Irish Open, was placed 3rd in BACKSPIN’s two previous links polls (2008 and 2010) but rises above Portmarnock and Royal County Down in the 2012 poll.

The Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush is considered Ireland’s best links by the Backspin panel.The Dunluce course attracted 12 top votes, 11 second and third preferences and 8 fourth preferences from a voting panel that embraces players with Ryder Cup, Walker Cup and Curtis Cup experience, Irish PGA members, distinguished amateurs, prominent administrators, media figures and other respected personalities in Irish golf.

Royal Co. Down moves from 1st in 2008 and 2nd in 2010 to 3rd, The European Cub in Brittas Bay retains 4th spot for a third time, while Waterville, Lahinch, Ballybunion, Baltray, Rosses Point and The Island all retain their elite top-10 status.

Mount Juliet retains top spot for a third time in the parkland category and by a convincing margin once again over The K Club (Palmer) and Adare.

Mount Juliet attracted 17 first preference and 13 second preference votes on this occasion. The Jack Nicklaus designed parkland jewel hosted the Irish Open from 1993 to 1995, the Shell Wonderful World of Golf in 1998 and the WGC AmEx Championship in 2002 and 2004.

When informed by the magazine about Mount Juliet’s three-in-a-row feat in Backspin’s biennial poll, course designer Jack Nicklaus responded: “We are honored that Mount Juliet was named the top parkland golf course in Ireland for a third straight time. We appreciate the editors of Backspin, as well as those who made up the voting panel, for recognizing the late Tim Mahony’s contribution to golf and tourism in Ireland. Tim was a wonderful man who worked tirelessly to do things the right way. I am delighted that in Tim’s honor and as a tribute to him Mount Juliet has received this recognition again.”

Elsewhere in the parkland category, Killarney (Killeen) moves up one spot to 4th while Killeen Castle (6th) and Lough Erne (9th) enter the top-10.

The full results are listed below and appear in the New Year / Spring edition of BACKSPIN

The rolling fairways of the Dunluce links at Royal Portrush.BACKSPIN’S 2012 Links Rankings

Poll positions and points achieved (2010 position)

1st Royal Portrush - Dunluce (3rd) - 10545 pts
2nd Portmarnock (1st) - 10475 pts
3rd Royal County Down (2nd) - 9955 pts
4th The European Club (4th) - 7845 pts
5th Waterville (6th) - 7285 pts
6th Lahinch - Old (8th) - 7215 pts
7th Ballybunion - Old (7th) - 6945 pts
8th Co. Louth / Baltray (5th) - 6940 pts
9th Co. Sligo / Rosses Point (9th) - 5380 pts
10th The Island (10th) - 4005 pts
11th Ballyliffin - Glashedy (14th) - 3405 pts
12th The Royal Dublin (11th) - 3175 pts
13th Tralee (13th) - 2875 pts
14th Doonbeg (12th) - 2725 pts
15th Enniscrone (15th) - 2255 pts
16th Old Head Golf Links (17th) - 2105 pts
17th Portstewart - Strand (18th) - 2000 pts
18th Ballyliffin - Old (16th) - 1740 pts
19th Connemara (19th) - 1290 pts
20th Rosapenna - Sandy Hills (23rd) - 1170 pts
21st Donegal / Murvagh (20th) - 1160 pts
22nd Portmarnock Hotel & Links (22nd) - 1150 pts
23rd Castlerock (New Entry) - 955 pts
24th Belmullet / Carne (21st) - 900 pts
25th Seapoint (New Entry) - 755 pts

Bunkering is a major feature of Jack Nicklaus’ creation at Mount Juliet.BACKSPIN’s 2012 Parkland Rankings

Poll positions and points achieved (2010 position)

1st Mount Juliet (1st) - 10215 pts
2nd K Club - Palmer Course (2nd) - 8495 pts
3rd Adare (3rd) - 8405 pts
4th Killarney - Killeen (5th) - 7500 pts
5th Druids Glen (4th) - 6075 pts
6th Killeen Castle (11th) - 5465 pts
7th The Heritage Resort (6th) - 4980 pts
8th Headfort - New Course (8th) - 4655 pts
9th Lough Erne (13th) - 4190 pts
10th Carlow (10th) - 3635 pts
11th Palmerstown Stud (7th) - 3275 pts
12th Fota Island Resort (12th) - 3270 pts
13th Carton House - Montgomerie (9th) - 3080 pts
14th Cork - Little Island (14th) - 2695 pts
15th Malone (15th) - 2480 pts
16th Slieve Russell (16th) - 2365 pts
17th Concra Wood (23rd) - 2135 pts
18th Hermitage (19th) - 1825 pts
19th Belvoir Park (21st) - 1770 pts
20th Carton House - O’Meara (18th) - 1650 pts
21st Bunclody (27th) - 1545 pts
22nd Westport (20th) - 1325 pts
23rd K Club - Smurfit (17th) - 1190 pts
24th Tramore (31st) - 920 pts
25th Grange (30th) - 890 pts
26th Luttrellstown Castle (25th) - 790 pts
T27th Shannon (34th) - 700 pts
T27th Woodenbridge (39th) - 700 pts
29th Knightsbrook Resort (33rd) - 655 pts
30th Tullamore (25th) - 630 pts

Backspin editor Decn O’Donoghue explains:

The concept
BACKSPIN, established in 1999, broke fresh ground in 2008 by becoming the first publication ever to treat Ireland’s links and parkland courses separately in a course rankings poll. It makes perfect sense. They are, after all, entirely different forms of golf.

BACKSPIN’S imaginative approach to this subject generates far greater awareness and appreciation of the quality and variety of the Irish golf product at home and abroad. The poll results are conveyed to thousands of influential people across all spectrums of Irish and International golf.

Fairness and transparency are vital elements of BACKSPIN’s poll.

In fairness to all clubs, voting panellists are provided with a complete directory of links and parkland courses in the 32 counties. The two lists are set-out in alphabetical order on a county-by-county basis for easy reference.

Voters are asked to nominate, in order of preference, the fifteen courses in both categories that impress and delight them most. Special emphasis is placed on design, presentation, setting, challenge and the personal enjoyment factor.

BACKSPIN’s voting system awards points to golf clubs as follows…
1st - 250pts; 2nd - 225; 3rd - 200; 4th - 175; 5th - 150; 6th - 140; 7th - 130; 8th - 120; 9th - 110; 10th - 100; 11th - 90; 12th - 80; 13th - 70; 14th - 60; 15th - 50.

The vote counting procedure is meticulous.

2012 Voting Panel
Irish Professionals (15) - Raymond Burns, Eddie Doyle, Peter Hanna, David Higgins, Liam Higgins, Francis Howley, Brendan McGovern, David Mortimer, Christy O’Connor Jnr, Peter O’Hagan, Denis O’Sullivan, Des Smyth, Gordon Smyth, Paul Thompson, Philip Walton

Irish Amateurs (28) - Keith Bardon, Michael Burns, Colin Byrne, Michael Coote, Karen Delaney, Barry Doyle, Eddie Dunne, Jody Fanagan, Mark Gannon, Loyal Goulding, Niall Goulding, Dougie Heather, John L. Hughes, Helen Jones, Ken Kearney, Enda Lonergan, Sheena McElroy, Mary McKenna, Harry McKinney, Seamus McParland, Adrian Morrow, Christy Moylan, Pat Murray, Peter O’Hara, Paddy O’Looney, Eddie Power, Eileen Rose Power, Barry Reddan

Golfing Media (12) - Pat Cashman, Cathal Dervan, Paul Gallagher, Shay Keenan, Brian Keogh, Denis Kirwan, Declan O’Donoghue, Philip Quinn, John Redmond, Ray Scott, Colm Smith, Liam Spratt

Further information visit Backspin Golf Magazine and click on the yellow ‘Read our Latest issue’ button on the home page.