This is the first of five updates for countries in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. When completed, we’ll produce a combined “chart of charts” for the top 100 courses in Britain and Ireland. But first we start with Northern Ireland, the smallest of these five geographical areas, where we feature a total of 43 courses across six counties in our regional listings.
The Top 30 tracks in this part of the Ulster province make the cut for our national ranking chart which we now present below. There’s very little movement in this list from when we carried out our last revision in late 2019: we have the same #1, just six courses move upwards (each by only one position), and there are only four chart newcomers, two of which are re-entries.
Royal County Down
The Championship course at Royal County Down Golf Club in Newcastle remains our number 1 layout in Northern Ireland and this classic links also commands a very high position in our World Top 100. It’s certainly come a very long way in the recognition stakes since Scottish schoolteacher George L. Baillie set out the original nine holes in 1889.
Old Tom Morris extended the layout to eighteen holes and it’s been modified down the years by the likes of Harry Vardon and Harry Colt, with Martin Ebert recently carrying out upgrade work which included the removal of the pond from the fairway on the 17th hole – a move which will please those citing such a water hazard as out of place on the links.
Comments from reviewers last year included: “Royal County Down is superb… the par threes are postcards from heaven… there are some classic links holes and the backdrop of the mountains of Mourne is spectacular… the best golf experience in the world… a truly spectacular experience… from start to finish the course doesn’t let up.”
The Faldo course at the Lough Erne Resort in Enniskillen is the most prominent of our upward moving chart positions, swapping places with the Mussenden course in Castlerock at number 4. Designed by Nick Faldo, this Lakeland layout occupies a spectacular setting alongside Castle Hume Lough and Lower Lough Erne, where several of the holes enjoy substantial elevation changes along the way.
The first of four entries arrives at number 19 and it’s the Ava course at Clandeboye Golf Club which lies between Bangor and Newtownards. When the original 18-hole layout was split to form half the holes for the Dufferin and half the holes for the Ava, the longer Dufferin then took all the plaudits, leaving the other course totally out of the limelight. Hopefully, that will now change and we’re looking forward to reviews for this quirky little track.
The 18-hole layout at Edenmore Country Club also makes a first appearance in our Northern Ireland Top 30, entering the listings at number 24. Thirty years old this year, the course was laid out by Scotsman Frank Ainsworth – then the head greenkeeper at Malone who also went on to design Roe Park and Gracehill – with holes set out across rolling countryside close to Lurgan.
Derry and Dunmurry
Making a reappearance in our chart, we have the Prehen course at City of Derry Golf Club (#28) – where Willie Park Junior pegged out the original 9-holer back in 1912 – and Dunmurry Golf Club (#29) outside Belfast, which Tom Macauley fashioned for the club in 1993, with David Jones subsequently redesigning the layout less than a decade later.
The four courses dropping out of our chart are Ballycastle, Gracehill, Roe Park and Warrenpoint.
|1||Royal County Down (Championship)||No change|
|2||Royal Portrush (Dunluce)||No change|
|3||Portstewart (Strand)||No change|
|4||Lough Erne (Faldo)||Up 1|
|5||Castlerock (Mussenden)||Down 1|
|6||Royal Portrush (Valley)||No change|
|7||Malone (Drumbridge & Ballydrain)||No change|
|9||Royal County Down (Annesley)||No change|
|10||Belvoir Park||No change|
|11||Royal Belfast||No change|
|12||Clandeboye (Dufferin)||No change|
|13||Galgorm Castle||No change|
|14||Moyola Park||Up 1|
|15||Kirkistown Castle||Down 1|
|16||Castlerock (Bann)||No change|
|19||Clandeboye (Ava)||New entry|
|23||Shandon Park||Down 2
|28||City of Derry (Prehen)||New entry|
To view the complete detailed list of our latest Top 30 Golf Courses of Northern Ireland 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.
Top 100 Golf Courses