From St Enodoc to Silloth and Camberley Heath to Copt Heath, immerse yourself in England's best golf courses
Welcome to England’s Top 100 Courses 2018. Let’s start with the big question: what is the point of another Top 100 list?
Well, it’s up to you, the discerning reader, to decide whether this list is a more accurate reflection of a great golfing nation than others you may have seen. But I do believe that we have attacked the task with greater vigour than has ever been the case previously.
Course rankings matter. I am reminded of this every day. I work in the golf industry, I am a golfer and I have long been a greedy consumer – and critic – of golf course ranking features. If you are going to do a list like this, you have to get it right.
Or at least demonstrate a robust methodology. You can see how we went about our task in detail here.
Our list has a few USPs (unique selling points) that I’d like to share with you.
The first is that we pledged to visit each and every course on our 163-strong shortlist in the 2017 season, which we defined as the day the clocks went forward in March to the day they went back at the end of October.
Secondly, when we visited, we made ourselves available to talk to the people there.That means we are able to offer an up-to-date opinion – because at least one of our 14 panellists has been to see the course and made themselves known to the management.
I think that matters, because golf courses are living, breathing things. They change, they evolve, they develop. We asked what they’d done recently, what they were in the process of doing and what they are planning to do.
If the 8th green was a bit patchy, or the style of bunkering seemed inconsistent, the club had a chance to explain why.
Thirdly, we only considered the golf courses – not the clubhouses nor practice facilities nor any of the other things that make up a great golf club. Not because we don’t think such things aren’t important, it’s just that our expertise only extends to the playing experience.
I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to club officials up and down the land for accommodating us and giving up their time to tell us about their courses. These courses get plenty of requests for courtesy – I know that.
Equally, it is impossible for us to produce a piece of work like this without getting out there and playing. I have personally tackled over 60 courses on the shortlist in 2017 and I have been made welcome wherever I have gone – from Northumberland to Cornwall, and Herefordshire to Norfolk. I’m very grateful for that.
Now, though, I fear I am going to lose some of my new friends.
Only five-eighths of the courses on the list could make the top 100 – and many of those will doubtless be lower than they would like.
It was Arsene Wenger who remarked that everyone thinks they have the prettiest wife at home. I understand, and respect, how much people care about their own clubs.
In return, I hope they respect our integrity and professionalism in compiling the list. We certainly didn’t set out to be controversial – just to create a better list.
It’s time to let the list speak for itself. I hope you enjoy it.
Dan Murphy, NCG editor