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Top 25 Golf Courses of Northern Ireland 2012

26 January, 2012

Top 25 Golf Courses of Northern Ireland 2012

26th January 2012

Top 100 Golf Courses extends its golf course rankings for Northern Ireland

Top 100 Golf Courses, your most informed and dedicated ranking website, created its first Top 10 list of golf courses for Northern Ireland back in 2006. That initial chart was doubled in size two years later and it’s only now that we’re extending it further to a Top 25.

It’s a fantastic time for golf in this part of the United Kingdom, where the game’s profile – thanks to the recent Major winning exploits of Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke – has never been higher.

Six of Ulster’s nine counties make up the state of Northern Ireland and, collectively, they offer an abundance of good – and sometimes great - golf in the north east corner of the Emerald Isle.

There are several “Royal” courses in our chart but two of them stand head and shoulder above all the others: the Championship layout at Royal County Down and the 18 holes of the Dunluce at Royal Portrush.

And these aren’t just “best in country” courses either; both are regularly positioned within the Top 20 in the World, which effectively marks them out as two of the best links layouts on the planet.

RCD has held the number 1 slot in Northern Ireland since our rankings began but there are plenty of seasoned golfing observers who will tell you that the Dunluce – recently announced as the venue for the 2012 Irish Open – is even better than its Royal counterpart in County Down.

RCD’s Annesley course makes it into our chart for the first time at number 21 whilst the Valley course at Royal Portrush – where 2010 US Open Champion Graeme McDowell played much of his early golf – rises two places to position 8 in the rankings.

Just along the coast from Portrush, you’ll find the seaside town of Portstewart and its marvellous 54-hole set up. The Old and Riverside courses are not all that taxing but the Strandcourse is a real championship links where many consider the newer front nine to be amongst the best outward halves in Great Britain & Ireland.

Staying in County Londonderry, the Mussenden and (9-hole) Banncourses comprise the golfing challenge at Castlerock, on the other side of the River Bann from Portstewart, and this cracking 27-hole facility completes a wonderful 15-mile stretch from Portrush that is home to no fewer than 117 golf holes.

With all this excellent seaside golf, it’s easy to forget that there’s great parkland golf to be had further inland. Antrim’s Malone is a fine Top 10 track, as are two of County Down’s finest, the Harry Colt-designed Belvoir Parkcourseand the 18 holes at Clandeboye’s Dufferin.

The traditional golfing counties of Antrim, Down and Londonderry account for 24 of our 25 ranked courses which means the remaining course, Nick Faldo’s Lough Ernein Fermanagh, has to be quite special to make it into the table. Part of an upmarket development that only opened in 2009, the course is not only our new number 4 in the country, it’s also one of the Top 100 layouts in Great Britain & Ireland.

The highest new entries into the listings are reserved for Galgorm Castleand Scrabo, both of which it could be said have remained under the Irish golfing radar in recent years, so we’re now pleased to now be able to showcase them in our updated rankings.

Ballycastle(20), Spa (22) and Gracehill(24) complete our list of six new entrants, with Ronan Rafferty’s old course at Warrenpoint, unfortunately dropping out of the chart.

We actively welcome comments on what we do at Top 100 Golf Courses… in fact, it’s positively encouraged, so please tell us what we could possibly improve on with our coverage of golf courses in Northern Ireland.

Top 100 doesn’t claim to be “definitive” but we think we’re the most “informed” golf course ranking operation in the business. If you’ve played any of our featured courses in Northern Ireland, we’d be delighted to hear what you think of them, so why not send us a course review or two?

Jim McCann

Rank Move Course
1 No Change Royal County Down (Championship)l
2 No Change Royal Portrush (Dunluce)
3 No Change Portstewart (Strand)
4 Up 1 Lough Erne
5 Down 1 Castlerock (Mussenden)
6 Up 1 Malone
7 Down 1 Belvoir Park
8 Up 2 Royal Portrush (Valley)
9 Down 1 Ardglass
10 Up 1 Clandeboye (Dufferin)
11 Down 2 Royal Belfast
12 New Entry Galgorm Castle
13 New Entry Scrabo
14 Down 2 Kirkistown Castle
15 Down 2 Castlerock (Bann)
16 Down 2 Templepatrick
17 Down 1 Bangor
18 Up 1 Cairndhu
19 Down 4 Lisburn
20 New Entry Ballycastle
21 New Entry Royal County Down (Annesley)
22 New Entry Spa
23 Down 6 Massereene
24 New Entry Gracehill
25 Down 7 Knock

To view the complete detailed list of Northern Ireland’s Top 25 courses click here.


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