Top 100 Courses of Britain & Ireland 2022
In the last few weeks we’ve published ranking charts for Northern Ireland, Wales, England, Ireland and Scotland so it’s now time to extract the best 100 of those 380 courses and present them in a collated fashion within our Britain & Ireland Top 100 listings. In this revision, 32 layouts move up, 50 drop down, 13 stay in the same place and 5 are new entries or re-entries.
Royal County Down
One of the non-movers is the Championship course at Royal County Down in Newcastle which has been our No.1 for the British Isles since 2006. The layout began as a 9-hole track back in 1889 and its development has seen design input from iconic architects such as Old Tom Morris, Harry Vardon and Harry Colt. In the past few years, Martin Ebert has made judicious alterations to both the Championship and Annesley courses at the club.
Review comments from last year include: “from start to finish the course doesn’t let up… not a single bad hole out there… without a doubt the best golf experience in the world… there are some classic links holes and the backdrop of the mountains of Mourne is spectacular… a few of the par threes are post cards from heaven… conditions are immaculate, greens are superb.”
North Berwick (West)
Climbing three places from number 13, the West course at North Berwick enters the elite Top 10 strata for the first time, having slowly risen every two years in the rankings from #41 in 2004. A golf course has operated here since the club was founded in 1832 (though the game was being played on the links as far back as 1672) and the current layout is attributed to Ben Sayers Jnr. and C.K. Hutchison who made use of additional land in the early 1930s.
Review remarks this year include: “My main takeaway from playing golf here was just how much fun it was… it isn’t just a brutal slog lined by punitive rough and heavy bunkering… it is a varied challenge of strategy and skill that keeps you thoroughly engaged… somewhere I suppose you would never tire of playing… for me it’s what golf is all about.”
The highest placed of five newcomers to the chart is the St Patrick’s course at Rosapenna in Donegal which enters at number 14. Located a few kilometres along the coast from the resort’s Sandyhills and Old Tom Morris layouts, St Patrick’s is Tom Doak’s first foray into golf design in the Emerald Isle, where he was aided and abetted by a small team of associates who’ve done a remarkable job of transforming what was formerly a failed 36-hole project into a world-class 18-hole links.
Our well-travelled correspondent Fergal O’Leary visited the new course last year just before it officially opened, calling it “a dream come true for Tom Doak, for the Rosapenna resort and for the golfers of Ireland… golfers will be left speechless by the sheer scale of the course, the width of the fairways, shaping of greens and a setting that will take your breath away.”
The second new entry in the standings is the latest addition to the golf scene in Fife at Dumbarnie Links on Largo Bay, arriving at number 40. Already a multiple award winner soon after it opened in 2020, the course quickly established its championship-hosting credentials by staging the Women’s Scottish Open last year. Designed by Clive Clark, the course has garnered nothing but positive comments since its unveiling.
“How wonderful this piece of land is to experience,” wrote a reviewer just last month. “It photographs well but it is when you take it in with your own eyes that you truly appreciate the peaceful and majestic aura it exudes.” Another poster said: “like all courses that begin with a blank canvas, the variety offered up is very good… it’s a nicely balanced collection of strong holes that offers up the instant sugar rush that travelling golfers crave.”
Further down the rankings, four English courses make significant improvements on their position.
The Old course at Rye in East Sussex advances ten spots to number 45. Host venue for the President’s Putter which has been played every January since 1920 by members of the Oxford & Cambridge Golfing Society, the course was originally laid out by Harry Colt, with subsequent modifications made between the wars made by Tom Simpson and Guy Campbell.
Comments in reviews last year included: “Rye summed up why I love the Top 100 quest – history, drama, great views and lovely people… if the course was more open to visitors I suspect it would be way higher in the rankings… they are still using the same understated ‘temporary club house’ from the 1920s and it does very much feel like you are stepping back in time.”
The ranking fortunes of the course at Hankley Common outside Farnham have fluctuated severely over the years. In the second revision of this chart in 2008, it rose to #51 from #76 before falling back to #70 two years later. Since then, it’s gone out as far as #82 in 2010 then come back in to a best placed #50 in 2016 – the course’s rise of 12 places now to #58 is just the latest in a chart roller coaster ride that might well continue for some time to come.
Founded in 1897, the club started out with a 9-hole layout which James Braid doubled in size in 1922. Fourteen years later, Harry Colt remodelled the course into the one that’s still in play today. Both the English Men’s Amateur (2019) and the Men’s Home Internationals (2021) were held at Hankley Common in recent years so the club’s ability to host major championships is in no doubt.
The Shore & Dunes nines at Prince’s in Sandwich also makes good progress after entering the chart for the first time at #99 in 2020. It now soars fourteen places to number 85. Guy Campbell and John Morrison re-built the layout after World War II and Martin Ebert recently completed an upgrade to re-bunker holes, install new tees, create natural sand scrapes and introduce a new sea-facing par three on the Shore loop.
Comments over the last 12-month period include: “a wonderfully mature course that provides a true test of all facets of golf… Prince’s is looking outstanding, with impressive bunkering and immaculate conditioning… new tees add length and change angles to increase the options and challenge… the wide run off areas leave you with the option to recover with a putt, chip or pitch… much more fun and thought-provoking than one dimensional rough.”
Dropping out to make way for the five new courses are Castletown on the Isle of Man, Moray (Old) in Lossiemouth, Royal Ashdown Forest (Old) in East Sussex, Wentworth (East) in Surrey and Woburn (Marquess) in Buckinghamshire.
|1||Royal County Down (Championship)||No change|
|2||St Andrews (Old)||Up 1|
|3||Trump Turnberry (Ailsa)||Down 1|
|5||Royal Dornoch (Championship)||No change|
|6||Royal Portrush (Dunluce)||Down 2|
|7||Ballybunion (Old)||No change|
|8||Royal St George's||No change|
|9||Sunningdale (Old)||No change|
|10||North Berwick (West)||Up 3|
|11||Lahinch (Old)||No change|
|12||Carnoustie (Championship)||Down 2|
|13||Royal Birkdale||Down 1|
|14||Rosapenna (St Patrick's)||New entry|
|15||Portmarnock (Championship)||Up 1|
|17||Swinley Forest||Up 2|
|18||Sunningdale (New)||Down 2|
|19||Castle Stuart||Down 1|
|20||Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin)||Up 1|
|21||Royal Aberdeen (Balgownie)||Down 4|
|22||Royal Lytham & St Annes||Down 2|
|23||Trump International - Scotland||Down 1|
|24||Cruden Bay (Championship)||Up 1|
|27||Royal Porthcawl||Down 4|
|28||St George’s Hill (Red & Blue)||Down 4|
|29||St Enodoc (Church)||Down 1|
|30||Royal Cinque Ports||Up 1|
|31||West Sussex||Down 2|
|32||Royal Troon (Old)||No change|
|33||European Club||Down 3|
|37||Loch Lomond||Up 3|
|38||Gleneagles (King's)||Down 2|
|39||Walton heath (Old)||Down 5|
|41||Western Gailes||Down 4|
|42||Royal Liverpool||No change|
|43||Royal West Norfolk||No change|
|44||Machrihanish (Championship)||No change|
|45||Rye (Old)||Up 10|
|48||Wentworth (West)||Down 15|
|49||The Island||Down 2|
|50||Berkshire (Red)||Down 1|
|53||Saunton (East)||Down 5|
|54||County Sligo (Championship)||Down 4|
|55||Nairn (Championship)||Up 1|
|56||Trump International - Ireland||Down 17|
|57||County Louth||No change|
|58||Hankley Common||Up 12|
|59||Adare Manor||Up 5|
|61||Rosapenna (Sandy Hills)||Down 8|
|62||Burnham & Berrow (Championship)||Up 4|
|63||Ballyliffin (Glashedy)||Down 9|
|64||Gullane (No.1)||Down 4|
|66||Carne (Hackett)||Down 7|
|68||Enniscrone (Dunes)||Down 5|
|71||Old Head||Down 3|
|72||The Renaissance Club||Down 10|
|74||Narin & Portnoo||New entry|
|76||Skibo Castle||Up 6|
|77||Gleneagles (Queen's)||Down 5|
|78||West Hill||Up 1|
|79||Royal St David's||Up 7|
|80||Portstewart (Strand)||Down 4|
|82||Berkshire (Blue)||Up 1|
|83||Machrihanish Dunes||Down 6|
|85||Prince’s (Shore & Dunes)||Up 14|
|86||West Lancashire||Up 8|
|89||Walton Heath (New)||Down 5|
|90||St Andrews (New)||Down 6|
|94||New Zealand||New entry|
|95||Delamere Forest||Down 2|
|96||St Andrews (Castle)||Down 9|
|97||Southport & Ainsdale||Down 6|
|99||Ballyliffin (Old)||Up 1|
To view the complete detailed list of our new Top 100 Golf Courses of Britain & Ireland chart click the link.
If you have any comment to make on the above chart then please use the “Respond to this article” link at the top or bottom of this page.
EditorTop 100 Golf Courses