Portmarnock heads Golf Digest Ireland top 100 list


Golf:Portmarnock has replaced Royal County Down in Golf Digest Ireland’s Top 100 Ranked Golf Courses in Ireland for 2009 after the Newcastle venue held the top spot for the last two years.

“Portmarnock’s promotion was based on key, course improvements, especially to run-off areas on several greens,” said Dermot Gilleece, editor of Golf Digest Ireland, and one of the eight-person selection panel.

“Effectively, these have been extended to heighten the difficulty of recovery shots at the second, third, eighth, ninth and 14th holes, while considerable work has also been done towards restoring traditional fescue and marram grasses to the north Dublin links.”

Pat Ruddy’s famed links, The European Club, where the Irish PGA Championship has been staged in recent years, moved up two places to third, while Royal Portrush made the biggest leap within the top 10, climbing from ninth to fourth.

That meant Ballybunion (Old) dropped two places to fifth while Adare Manor dropped three places to seventh but remains the highest-ranked parkland in the country as The Palmer Course at The K-Club, where the 2006 Ryder Cup was held, remained in 10th spot.

County Louth (Baltray), where Shane Lowry won this year’s 3 Irish Open, moved down two places to ninth.

This year’s panel was modified with the addition of Garth McGimpsey, winner of 14 championships in a glittering career, and Declan Branigan, who won six championships and is now acknowledged as a leading agronomist and course-designer.

Its full complement is: Declan Branigan (agronomist and course-designer), Mark Gannon (Royal and Ancient selector), Michael McCumiskey (Secretary, PGA Irish Region), Garth McGimpsey (former Walker Cup captain), Ada O'Sullivan (former Curtis Cup captain), John Quigley (Association of Irish Golf Club Secretaries), Dermot Gilleece (Editor, Golf Digest Ireland). Chairman: Padraig O hUiginn.

The Top 100 were selected in groups of 10, which meant, that any course which went close to making the top-10, automatically came into consideration for the second-10, and so on down the list. After a discussion on each group of courses, an individual, written vote was taken, with points being awarded to each course in order of preference, from 10 down to one. The counted votes then determined the order of preference.

The rankings for 2009 were decided by scoring each course (1-10) in the following categories; Shot making / variety; Design variety; Memorability; Course condition; Playability (all handicaps) and Degree of difficulty / fairness.

“Length is important in golf, where modern technology is posing a relentless threat to our best-loved terrain. This has been clearly reflected in the latest deliberations of the Golf Digest Ireland panel, in choosing the country's Top-100 courses for 2009," added Gilleece.

Golf Digest Ireland's Top 10 for 2009

1 Portmarnock
2 Royal County Down
3 The European Club
4 Royal Portrush
5 Ballybunion (Old)
6 Waterville
7 Adare Manor
8 Lahinch
9 Co Louth (Baltray)
10 The K-Club (Palmer)