Irish Golf Magazine course ratings
IRISH Golf Magazine, which is available free of charge in practically every golf club in the country, has listed its top 100 Irish golf courses for 2018, but as I’ve said on dozens of occasions, whilst reviewing golf course rankings you simply cannot compare links courses and parkland courses, which should be rated separately.
I am not alone in this opinion as I know a lot of people involved in the game who agree with me, and while Irish Golf Magazine do list their top 30 links and parkland courses separately in two other minor lists, they mix parkland and links in their overall Top 100, which makes no sense to me.
According to the magazine the courses were rated for Design and Layout (35%), Quality of Test and Playability (25%), Condition and Presentation (20%), Club Facilities and Experience (10%) and Visual Appeal (10%), while the panel who came up with these ratings included John Shortt and Peter Finnan from Irish Golf Magazine, Ally McIntosh, a golf course architect, PGA Professionals John Kelly and Damian McGrane, former Irish International Maria Dunne, and golf writers Kevin Markham and Liam Kelly.
Anyway, to the list of the top 100 Irish Golf courses and from a local perspective, Kerry has eight courses in the top ten, which are in descending order: Killarney’s Mahony’s Point (83rd), Ceann Sibeal (80th), Ballybunion’s Cashen (51st), Killarney’s Killeen (40th), Dooks (27th), Tralee (11th), Ballybunion Old (9th) and our highest ranking course Waterville at 8th.
It’s interesting to note that there are only three parkland courses in the top 20, with Adare Manor Resort, which only opened last March, coming in at no.3, while the others are the K-Club Palmer Course at 16th and Mount Juliet at 19th.
So the top twenty are: (1) Royal Portrush, (2) Portmarnock, (3) Adare, (4) Lahinch, (5) Royal County Down, (6) Co Louth (Baltray), (7) The Island, (8) Waterville, (9) Ballybunion Old, (10) The European Club, (11) Tralee, (12) County Sligo (Rosses Point), (13) Ballyliffin-Glasheedy, (14) Trump Doonbeg, (16) The K-Club Palmer Course, (17) Carne, (18) Portsalon, (19) Mount Juliet, (20) Royal Dublin.
Immediately I note the fall from grace of Royal County Down, which is consistently ranked at no.1 and is now number five, Waterville dropping from 6 to 8, and Tralee dropping from 9 to 11, while Ballybunion Old has fallen from fourth the previous year to ninth, because as the footnote said, the course’s condition was not up to the standard that golfers would expect.
Call me biased, but I’m going to jump to Ballybunion’s defence and state that, yes, the fairways were in poor condition during the latter part of the season (September/October) but intentionally so because of a decision made by the club (after the long dry summer) to let the meadow grasses die out and replace them with fescue which was explained to the members and all visiting golfers.
Anyway, aside from all these listings and rankings, which are confined to 18-hole courses, I see where Ivan Morris has ranked the top 15 nine-hole courses in Ireland and has Castlegregory rated at no.3, while Ross makes it in at no.13, so well done to both Kerry clubs for their inclusion.