Top 100 Golf Courses Ireland 2015

Welcome to the most comprehensive, democratic and thoroughly-researched ranking of the fi nest courses in Ireland. In keeping with our desire to rank our Top 100s using golfers who have played all or the vast majority of the courses in contention, we have changed our panel from the golfers who usually help decide the GB&I, English, Scottish and Welsh lists. Even these exceptionally well-travelled golfers have not played widely enough in Ireland to pass credible comment. So, while I have personally had input on the list, I have been very fortunate to be able to lean on the wealth of experience from our Irish-based panel (see right). This is how and why we created the fi nal Top 100 of the Spring series:

READ THE TOP 100 COURSES IN BRITAIN & IRELAND

WHO DECIDED THE POSITIONS?
Our panel of readers, who are ef ectively ‘Mystery Shoppers’. They visit the courses unannounced, pay the green fee and make their judgements. The list is an amalgamation of their opinions.

DO YOU ‘MARK’ EACH COURSE?
No. This is done by other rankings inside and outside golf, but at this time the panel purely rank the course using a ‘mental’ aggregate of the various factors*. A numerical breakdown might well add ballast and once every panellist has played every course, we may well produce a valid statistical breakdown.

WHAT ARE THE FACTORS IN ASSESSING?
This seems obvious to me, but people do ask; we ask panellists to consider strategic merit, presentation, memorable holes, playability, consistency of test and visual appeal. But not anything of the course.

DO TOUR PROS OR ARCHITECTS FEATURE?
Many others use ‘celebrity’ panellists, and GW has done in the past, but I just don’t see how even the most famous Tour player or the most feted architect can add credible assistance to the ranking given they may well have played less than half of the contenders. The only reason our panel have any justifi cation for contributing to a list of the ‘best’ courses in Ireland is because, by virtue of having played all or the vast majority of the contenders, they have the ability to compare. Some architects have indeed played as widely, but – especially given so many of the architects of Irish courses are still with us – there could be vested interests given they may well judge their own work.

DO READERS MAKE GOOD PANELLISTS?
I believe so. In addition to their ability to compare, I also like the fact they have usually paid their green fees; it removes any possible inhibitions and also means they can relate to our readers – and hopefully vice versa. They are readers themselves; our Top 100s are lists for golfers who like to go on golf trips to the best courses, created by golfers who like to go on golf trips to the best courses. Our aim is for you to feel confi dent that what we suggest in our Top 100s will be the reality when you arrive. It’s not to say we aren’t interested in the views of famous names. In this supplement we hear from Rory McIlroy, Paul McGinley, and noted architects.

CAN I JOIN THE PANEL?
Yes! The only proviso is you have a wealth of experience of what are regarded as the finest courses in Ireland. There are no freebies or expenses, this is a labour of love – but panellists seem to enjoy being involved

Chris Bertram
Top 100 Editor