Top 100 Golf Courses in Britain and Ireland
50 Rosapenna (Sandy Hills), Donegal
A big-boned links for the modern age with some especially nice second shots.
49 Silloth-on-Solway, Cumbria
Relatively modest surroundings (and similar short holes coming home) perhaps, but in every other respect, this is top-20 material.
48 Machrihanish, Argyll
Nothing new to report here: even with a modest finish, this is an intoxicating links.
47 Notts/Hollinwell, Nottinghamshire
The routing embraces the lovely heath-countryside mix, gradually meandering uphill and enjoying a stellar finish. Sits comfortably alongside the elite of Surrey and Berkshire.
46 Hankley Common, Surrey
Arguably the most impressive piece of heathland of all the Surrey/Berkshire courses? Plenty of the panel think so.
45 Royal West Norfolk, Norfolk
Old-fashioned golf on a natural, out-back links. Real personality and features.
44 Formby, Lancashire
Pleasing variety and interest, whether on the links holes or among the pines.
43 Gleneagles (King’s), Perthshire
A ‘glad to be alive’ inland course of exquisite, all-world holes such as 3, 7 and 15.
42 St Enodoc (Church), Cornwall
Holes around the Church may be lower key, but the panel love this distinctive links.
41 Royal Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire
Awesome front half, excellent back. Some of the biggest dunes in Scotland.
40 Western Gailes, Ayrshire
Stellar links queezed between sea and railway, with a fine middle and tough finish.
39 Prestwick, Ayrshire
More than just an essential history lesson, it is a fun links packed with unique holes.
38 Swinley Forest, Berkshire
It almost feels wrong to allocate marks. An experience of a romantic nature.
37 The Alwoodley, West Yorkshire
Recent restoration work has been sympathetic to its storied, MacKenzie-infl uenced past and has enhanced what is a majestic heathland challenge. Seems now to be a fixture in the 30s.
36 St George’s Hill, Surrey
An admirable routing. Red & Blue loops sit majestically on hilly terrain; greens set on hilltops, above deep pits, across slopes and on raised plateaux.
35 The Berkshire (Red), Berkshire
A glorious heathland, just shy of little eccentricities and details to sit within the top-20 elite.
34 Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire
So many outstanding holes and features, only a few weaker ones stop this mostly mesmerising links from a top-15 slot.
33 Royal Liverpool, Cheshire
Modest linksland and views, while early on only the nuanced golfer may be content – but a dunes section in the middle will please all.
32 Nairn, Highlands
Moray Firth setting is an obvious attraction, so are the legendary greens and so are fine holes such as 13 and the drop par-3 14th.
31 Saunton (East), Devon
A brawny encounter, emphasised by the lengthy first four. A diverse set of links greens and nicely dips in and out of flatter land.
30 Royal Porthcawl, South Wales
Openers along the shore are the stars but has lots of depth, even on flatter land.
29 Trump Ireland, Co Clare
Rugged, glamourous links. Modest finish, otherwise we hope it isn’t changed much...
28 Ganton, Yorkshire
Gorse, heather, exceptional holes, beautiful turf, sublime greens, superb bunkering.
27 West Sussex, Sussex
White sand and purple heather makes this timeless heathland a visual treat.
26 Walton Heath (Old), Surrey
Wacky pits, humps and hollows, and vast scale to the greens at a heathland icon.
25 Skibo Castle, Dornoch
A links that oozes class; the famed Carnegie Club now has a course fitting its status.
24 Castle Stuart, Highlands
A significant rise for this modern links. Width off the tees gives playing choice, and some excellent strategic golf. A visual feast.
23 Royal Troon (Old), Ayrshire
Give Troon a chance, it will likely surprise you. More scenic than you think, and from 5 to 8 plus 10, 11 and 15 are of real quality.
22 Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin), Lincolnshire
The connoisseur’s heathland choice? It is a course to be learned, then loved.
21 Royal Lytham, Lancashire
A fall that we lament, and is due entirely to its predictably poor ‘setting’ mark.
20 Portmarnock, Co Dublin
Divides opinion surprisingly; for many, it is everything links lovers enjoy – but others find less to savour in its unremitting test.
19 Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire
A real experience for those fortunate to play in this peerless inland setting.
18 The European Club, Co Wicklow
Modern links that does not suffer fools gladly. Superb section along the shoreline.
17 Sunningdale (New), Berkshire
Start and end lack the aesthetics or interest of the rest, which is truly outstanding.
16 Lahinch, Co Clare
Great coastal views, great fun and, in ‘Dell’ and ‘Klondyke’ et al, lots of great holes.
15 Trump Turnberry (Ailsa), Ayrshire
A signifi cant fall for the ‘old’ Ailsa (from June we will begin re-evaluating for 2018 based on Martin Ebert’s revamp), one that had been mooted by some in 2014. The marking system highlighted those verdicts and while the aesthetically-pleasing Ailsa still has its supporters, the overhaul does seem fully required.
14 Carnoustie (Championship), Angus
More charm than usually credited with to counter the undoubted challenge.
13 Ballybunion (Old), Co Kerry
A plain opening six, remainder is breathtaking; entertainment, pedigree and views.
12 North Berwick, East Lothian
Classic links golf in middle mixes with unique holes before and after. A few query some holes, or it could have gone even higher.
11 Royal Birkdale, Lancashire
The big surprises of the new panel and assessment. A (relative) lack of commanding presence despite the grand site cost it six spots.
10 Waterville, Co Kerry
Sparkling links, with a huge climax.
9 Royal St George’s, Kent
Panel love the rolling dunescape that is full of atmosphere and austere beauty.
8 Royal Portrush (Dunluce), Co Antrim
A delicious variety of pure links golf, mixing quiet ripple, with elevation change, and clifftop holes. Harry Colt’s green complexes are as elegant as any links, outside of the Old Course. The two new holes could see it rise in 2018.
7 Trump International, Aberdeenshire
We were clearly bold with our 2012 assessment of this bold links but the verdict of club golfers has maintained its top-10 spot.
6 Kingsbarns, Fife
Its sequencing of holes takes you on a wonderful journey along a glorious stretch of coastline. Has an incredibly consistent quality in the course as a whole, rather than necessarily brilliant individual holes. A significant jump of 10 places that takes it into fabled company.
5 Royal Dornoch (Ch’ship), Highlands
A fantastic set of green complexes and a sublime setting are but two of Dornoch’s attraction. Made a long overdue entry to the top 10 in 2014 and now finds itself in the top five, where it feels entirely at home to us.
4 Sunningdale (Old), Surrey
It is as exquisite as legend has it. While the downhill drive at 10 is rightly revered, the 11th and 12th might just be the pick of the back nine. A round here is good for the soul.
3 Muirfield, East Lothian
At first glance a seemingly bland landscape is brought to life by a wonderful routing darting in all directions. Simply, strategically, brilliant. You know what to expect here and despite lacking the ‘drama’ of others in the top 10, it does not disappoint.
2 St Andrews (Old), Fife
Interesting that the advent of stats on the reader panel takes the Old to the brink of No.1. It may have limitations in the eyes of some but it was unanimously adored by the panel. For British golfers, it is the holy grail.
1 Royal County Down, Northern Ireland
The top three feels slightly adrift from the pack, and while Muirfield and the Old would be worthy No.1s, this peerless combination of beauty and examination feels right in the top spot once again.