NCG Top 100s: Scotland methodology

Some key background details. Before you start shouting at us, these points may answer some of your questions about our list of the best golf courses in Scotland

Learn more about the criteria we employed for judging our list of the best golf courses in Scotland – and how we went about the shortlisting process in the first place.

• The shortlist

We compiled a shortlist of 125 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.

• Courses who chose not be included

We initially shortlisted the new Ardfin course on Jura, but they politely advised us they did not wish to be considered on this occasion. We respect their decision and mention them here only because you might otherwise have wondered why they do not appear in the list.

• 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

• View the NCG top 100: Scotland’s best golf courses
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)

Conditioning/greens/ presentation

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)

Consistency

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)

Scenery/ambience

How attractive a place to play is this course? (10)

Playability

Is the course enjoyable and playable for the shorter hitter and higher handicapper? (10)

Variety

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)

Challenge

To what extent does the course pose a challenge and test the skills of the elite golfer? (10)

Routing

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)

Charm/distinctiveness/memorability

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)

• View the NCG top 100: Scotland’s best golf courses