What we based our Ireland Top 100 courses ranking on, who did them and how we arrived at our conclusions.
Learn more about the criteria we employed for judging our list of the best golf courses in Ireland – and how we went about the shortlisting process in the first place.
• The shortlist
We compiled a shortlist of 120 courses before the season began, from which the top 100 would be selected. As a panel, we sought to include all courses that we felt had a realistic chance of making the final top 100.
• Off-course facilities
We were only interested in golf courses – the round began when we arrived on the 1st tee and ended when we walked off the last green.
• Price/accessibility/membership policies
None of these were factors – we were only interested in the golf course.
• Panellist’s home courses
Panellists were not be eligible to rank courses of which they are members.
• Courses we didn’t know well
We only ranked courses that a minimum of THREE of our panel had played. Otherwise, we didn’t consider ourselves qualified to rate them accurately. That said, because the panel are so experienced we do not believe any credible contenders were unable to be marked.
• Whose opinions counted?
All panellists who have played a course submitted a ranking. However, we valued more the rankings of panellists who have either a) played a course recently, b) played a course several times or c) both.
• How we weighted panellist marks
When a panellist ranked a course, the opinion was given the following weighting:
X1: Played the course 1 or 2 times but not in the last 20 years
X2: Played the course 3 or 4 times but not in the last 20 years OR played the course 1 or 2 times most recently between 11-20 years ago
X3: Played the course 5 or more times but not in the last 20 years OR played the course 3 or 4 times most recently between 11 and 20 years ago OR played the course 1 or 2 times most recently between 4 and 10 years ago
X4: Played the course 5 or more times most recently between 11 and 20 years ago; OR played the course 3 or 4 times most recently between 4 and 10 years ago; OR played the course 1 or 2 times most recently within the last 3 years
X5: Played the course 5 or more times most recently between 4 and 10 years ago; OR played the course 3 or 4 times most recently within the last 3 years
X6: Played the course 5 or more times and most recently within the last 3 years
What the ranking is based on
These criteria created a final mark out of 100.
Architecture and design
How well designed are the individual holes, and the course as a whole? Do the holes offer the golfer choices? Is there a mix of penal, strategic and heroic holes? This category was worth double the points of all the others. (20)
How good is the turf to hit off? How good are the greens to putt on? Does each hole play in the same way as the others? (10)
How much better is the best hole than the least best hole? Do all the holes feel like they belong on the same course? (10)
How attractive a place to play is this course? (10)
Is the course enjoyable and playable for the shorter hitter and higher handicapper? (10)
Does the course test all facets of the game or is it asking the same questions repeatedly? Is the golfer’s ability to play a variety of shots with each club in the bag duly rewarded? Does the course become predictable? (10)
To what extent does the course pose a challenge and test the skills of the elite golfer? (10)
How does the course flow? Are tees generally close to the previous green? Does the course ‘fit’ into its surroundings? Are long and short holes interspersed evenly? (10)
Does the course inspire affection and live long in the memory? How reluctant are you to leave and how much do you want to return? (10)
Meet the panel
Chaired by NCG Top 100s editor Chris Bertram, we assembled an exceptional panel with a vast knowledge of the country’s courses. It included golfers who have played every course in Ireland – so every course has been considered as a contender. The panel ranked and commented on each course they had played and their assessments were assimilated to produce the final ranking.
Chris Bertram: NCG Top 100 Editor, hcp 11.
Peadar Conlon: Member at New Forest, hcp 13.
Kevin Connelly: Member at Donegal, hcp 5.
Siobhan Cullen: Member at Rathfarnham, hcp 20.
Nick Dungay: Member at West Sussex, hcp 11.
Tom Irwin: Member at Alwoodley, hcp 0.
Clyde Johnson: Member at St Andrews, hcp 7
Sean Kilroy: Member at Rossmore, hcp 12.
Dan Murphy: Member at Alwoodley, hcp 3.
Peter Rudd: Member at Woodbridge, Thorpeness & Woodhall Spa, hcp 7.
Mark Ryan: Member at Grange, Lahinch, hcp 2.
Pat Smyth: Member at Royal Tara, hcp 14.
Derek Wickham: Member at Rosslare, hcp 7.
• If you have deep knowledge of Irish or Welsh courses, or indeed those of England, Scotland, GB&I or Continental Europe, we would love to hear from you. Email: [email protected]
NCG Top 100s: Ireland