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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 4, 2010 @ 10:56 am

    Genie out of the bottle with Golf Digest Rankings

    Paul Gallagher

    So, the genie is out of the bottle. Golf Digest Ireland magazine released their Top 100-ranked Irish courses for 2010 and there’s sure to be plenty of debate around the office waters coolers.

    Royal County Down Golf Club took the top spot from Portmarnock in a top 10 dominated by links courses. Given that this small island possesses more than its fair share of the world’s best links courses, it comes as little surprise nine of the leading 10 are a links with Adare Manor in Limerick the only parkland at eighth.

    A view of the par four ninth at Royal County Down Golf Club in Newcastle. (Photograph: David Cannon/Getty Images)

    A view of the par four ninth at Royal County Down Golf Club in Newcastle. (Photograph: David Cannon/Getty Images)

    Adare Manor is undoubtedly one of the finest parklands anywhere in the world, let alone Ireland. The former Irish Open venue staged this year’s JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am where the world’s best golfers, including Tiger Woods, were on show.

    However, should the top 10 have more than one parkland rather than be so heavily weighted in favour of the seaside layouts dotted around the coastline? For example, The K Club (Palmer Course) dropped out of this year’s top 10 after the 2006 Ryder Cup venue slid five places to 15th.

    Having managed to get hold of Linton Walsh, Golf Digest Ireland’s managing editor, late last night, he assured yours truly that compiling this list can be a thankless task. In his attempt to find a definitive list, in the fairest and most transparent method possible, Walsh said he jeopardised losing business from certain sections within the Irish golf industry unhappy with their ranking.

    The annual rankings have been on the go for some seven years and every time they cause consternation and quiet satisfaction in equal measure, depending on your viewpoint.

    This year Walsh and co attempted to broaden the selection panel – now up to 11 well-placed individuals from within the industry (see story and panel: “Royal County Down rises to the top”) – plus stuck to a set of criteria in a bid to come up with the most transparent Top 100 rankings.

    But as with any selection process, subjectivity is unavoidable, therefore some will feel short-changed as others take delight in their position on the list.

    Walsh also confirmed any golf club’s known to be in receivership, at the time of publication, were not considered. The number of said clubs reached double figures. Was this the right and fair thing to do or should they also have been considered in the selection process?

    Anyway, the list is what it is and opinions will always be divided. Let us know your thoughts? Did your golf club get a fair ranking in your opinion?

    Golf Digest Ireland Top 100-ranked Golf Course 2010

    • Will.I.Am says:

      Harsh enough to exclude courses in receivership? This hardly affect the quality of the course. Is this pandering to a lobby group of hoteliers/Bord Failte etc.

      Heritage in Laois is a notable exception here, assume it is in receivership, would rate it far ahead of K Club (Smurfit), Knightsbrook and plenty more on the list. Surprised that The Old Head is so far down the list also.

    • True enough Will.I.Am with regards the receivership. The point was made that those in receivership in theory don’t operate fully as a business, rather they are just servicing the day-to-day bills in order to keep the business going. For some that may seem an unfair advantage when compared to a club trying to battle their way through the recession as a regular business of going concern.

      In any case, as you say, the primary product, ie the golf course doesn’t change and maybe should be considered on that merit alone. No pandering allowed either!

      As a course to play I would say the Heritage too and am not a fan of the Smurfit. Would also have bumped Druids Glen higher up the list too.

    • Robert Kennedy says:

      The Island golf club moved up to 12th in the rankings, I think this was a good call. It has the best back nine in the country, world class in my opinion. T

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