fbpx

How we will improve our NCG Top 100s England golf course rankings

Our NCG Top 100s course editor explains what he and our panel are looking for as we update our England golf courses ranking list in 2024

 

I removed a new Titleist from my bag and lobbed it on to the putting green at Southport & Ainsdale. The ball first bounced and then ran smoothly out in a very gentle curve.

I immediately declared the new NCG Top 100s England golf courses ranking season officially open.

This year sees us updating our England list once more. In many ways, it is my favourite list to work on.

The top of the ranking is less immediately obvious than with the other home nations. There are always new discoveries further down due to the astonishing depth of courses in England.

Right now is quite the time to be ranking courses in Great Britain and Ireland. There is barely a contender that is not trying incredibly hard to improve their product. This can take many forms – from architectural changes to new paths (grass ones are very much de rigeur right now), and re-laid tees to eco-friendly starter huts.

That’s why we review our lists on a regular basis. Golf courses are living, breathing things and they change by the season.

Above all else, I want our rankings to be contemporaneous – showing the golf courses as they are now not as they were 10 or 20 years ago.

To that end, our panel has been strengthened to over 30 experienced and enthusiastic golfers. We have cast the net a little wider in terms of contenders. Our longlist has just short of 200 courses on it. And they are all there because we think they have a realistic chance of making our top 100.

Top 100 Golf Courses in England: The Ranking Process

Over the next seven months, until the end of October, we will be visiting as many of these courses as we can as often as we can.

My own plans for the season will hopefully take me from Northumberland (Dunstanburgh Castle and Bamburgh Castle) to Kent (Royal St George’s), and from Surrey (Hankley Common) to Worcestershire (Blackwell).

But wherever I may wander, I doubt I will putt on smoother, truer greens than I found at S&A last week. For those of us who live inland, the sight of seaside greens at this time of the year never ceases to amaze. All that rain, all that mud, all those short, grey days. And yet at S&A it was like none of it had ever happened.

Of course, that is largely down to the blessed land such courses sit on. But it is also a tribute to S&A’s course manager, Jamie Whittle, and his team.

England golf courses ranking

There is a bigger picture here – the ongoing developments in agronomy and technology that are lifting our courses to ever-more-sophisticated levels. They are coupled with the expertise of those who gain, hold and deploy the knowledge.

However, all the skills of these remarkable men and women will be required to counter the challenges of water shortage (hard though it is to imagine such a thing right now) and short-term deluges coupled with the need to be increasingly less reliant on pesticides and fertilisers.

Only this week, Climate Coalition, an umbrella group, asserted that coastal erosion is threatening all of our links courses. They declared them at risk of “crumbling into the sea”, by 2100.

That may be dramatic. Still, in the meantime we should all try harder to appreciate the golf courses on our doorsteps that have simply never looked better. That is certainly what our NCG Top 100s panel will be doing all over England over the coming summer.

Dan Murphy

Dan Murphy

Dan loves links golf, which doesn't mean he is very good at it. He is a four-handicapper at Alwoodley. A qualified journalist and senior editor with 25 years’ experience, he was the long-time editor of NCG. His passion is golf courses and he is the founding editor of NCG Top 100s course rankings. He loves nothing more than discovering and highlighting courses that are worthy of greater recognition.

Latest Posts

Royal County Down

Courses and Travel

‘It’s not going to stop’: Expect to pay even more to play GB&I’s top 100 courses

By

Read full article about ‘It’s not going to stop’: Expect to pay even more to play GB&I’s top 100 courses
Turnberry

Courses and Travel

Could new changes to Turnberry get it back on The Open rota?

By

Read full article about Could new changes to Turnberry get it back on The Open rota?
Old Course reverse

Courses and Travel

Want to play the Old Course in reverse? Here’s how…

By

Read full article about Want to play the Old Course in reverse? Here’s how…
Britain's best nine-hole courses

Courses and Travel

Britain’s top 100 nine-hole courses: The NCG guide

By

Read full article about Britain’s top 100 nine-hole courses: The NCG guide

Top 100s

Thorpeness: A glorious Braid heathland by the Suffolk sea

By

Read full article about Thorpeness: A glorious Braid heathland by the Suffolk sea

Top 100s

NCG Top 100s: Take a deep dive inside our list of Scotland’s best courses

By

Read full article about NCG Top 100s: Take a deep dive inside our list of Scotland’s best courses

Top 100s

NCG Top 100s Scotland 2023: Introducing our new No 1!

By

Read full article about NCG Top 100s Scotland 2023: Introducing our new No 1!

Top 100s

The shocking true cost of playing GB&I’s top 50 courses: Are golfers being priced out?

By

Read full article about The shocking true cost of playing GB&I’s top 50 courses: Are golfers being priced out?

Top 100s

How we put together our NCG Top 100s Scotland list

By

Read full article about How we put together our NCG Top 100s Scotland list