Ranking lists always lead to vigorous debate but you can be sure Golf Digest Ireland’s “Volvo Top 100 Ranked Irish Golf Courses” will not be getting pride of place at Royal Dublin any time soon.
The venerable Dollymount links is one of the biggest losers in the 2013 list, which was drawn up by a panel chaired by former Fáilte Ireland chairman, Pádraig O’hUiginn, losing its top 20 status with a fall of five places, to 24th.
That leaves Royal Dublin one place behind near neighbours Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links — currently in NAMA — which rose eight places to 23rd, thanks to some major course improvements.
Agronomist Eddie Connaughton, former international Kate MacCann, Munster interprovincial Valerie Hassett, golf course architect Ally McIntosh, PGA professionals John Kelly, Kevan Whitson and Mark Magowan, former international Dougie Heather, Golf Digest Ireland editor Linton Walsh, readers panellist Stephen May and Adare Manor greenkeeper Alan McDonnell left the top four unchanged with Royal County Down, Portmarnock, the Dunluce at Royal Portrush and Waterville rated as Ireland’s top four.
Munster dominates the top 10 with five representatives, with Lahinch in Co Clare rising one place to fifth at the expense of the Old Course at Ballybunion while Tralee (eighth) was overtaken by The European Club in Co Wicklow, (seventh) with County Louth remaining steady at number nine.
Adare remained in 10th place overall, making it the magazine’s choice as Ireland’s top parkland course, based on a scoring system that valued shot-making values over “design variety, the wow factor, memorability, condition, playability and degree of difficulty/fairness”.
The biggest changes occurred lower down the list, with Ceann Sibeal (Dingle) soaring 17 places to 81st and Galway Bay up nine places to 87th, while Esker Hills returned to the top 100, at 82nd.
Eyebrows will no doubt be raised at a fall of the Killeen Course at Killarney from 27th to 33rd, just 16 months after hosting the Irish Open for the second year in a row.
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