It's that time of the year again when the Golf Digest Ireland Top 100 Courses listing comes out and this time around I've gotten so many mails and comments from angry industry folk asking me to air their frustrations I couldn't avoid it.  Despite desperately trying to!

First of all let me say this at the outset.  I personally lost interest in the Golf Digest Ireland Top 100 ranking list a long time ago. I think it's fundamentally wrong that one publication should have such a huge influence. For me it would be better that there be no list at all than all this bitching and bickering and politics about a new one every year. If there is to be a list I have a whole raft of great ideas to make it far better, but nobody cares what I say!

I know some of the people on the panel and hold them in the highest regard but this post consists of the emails and messages of several interested parties, who haven't a voice, but are upset at how money spend with the publishers is affecting the final list.

I just collated the anger and added the funny bits.

This is the first message I received; from a course manager in the South of Ireland

Since publication of the list, the running joke in the Irish golf industry is that Walton Media, the company behind Golf Digest Ireland are the new FIFA of golf!  Their elevation of Moyvalley Golf Club into the top 100 courses on the island,  just months after taking over the PR and marketing for the club, has angered just about everybody; except probably the folks from Moyvalley.  And allegations that position on the list is heavily influenced by advertizing spend with the company are rife.  I don't spend money with them, and we feel out in the cold with regards to this list as a result.

The most representative email I got however was from a course manager in the East, who has been calling and waving across the proverbial street at Golf Digest for ages, but still cannot even get them to glance in his general direction.

I have been trying to get in contact since 2015 with no response from Golf Digest - (doesn't surprise me).
Money talks.. I feel the list in unfair, it is not a fair portrayal of Irish golf courses (for those based at home in Ireland and those visiting golfers from abroad).
The top 100 golf courses.. that is meant to be the new list.. and I feel the criteria and those involved in the decision making let themselves down very much.
You will see Galway Bay moving 10 places from 79 in 2015 to No. 69 in 2016.. wow and I called it in October 2015.
Why may you ask? They did a lot of promotion / events in 2015 and spent a lot of money with Walton Media!
How can small golf clubs keep going if they are being pushed out by companies / bullies.  If spending money and marketing with Golf Digest is the only way, then I rest my case...

Now I haven't played Galway Bay in 15 years so haven't a clue how good it is, but Irish golf course expert Kevin Markham (who has played every single one of them) knows his onions and explains in his Hooked On Golf Blog why Galway suddenly jumped up so high and another reason why Moyvalley is there.

So what about this year? Let's start with the obvious - Christy O'Connor Junior is now a significant player on the panel. It is no surprise therefore that a couple of his courses have moved up the table. Galway Bay is up 10, Knightsbrook is up 3, Concra Wood up 2, Mount Wolseley is up 1. The course he is redesigning at Moyvalley is a new entry (98). I like the course, but entering the top 100 at this stage is a total joke. The course is simply not there yet. And I expect that next year, after the redesign work is done, it will move up some 10 places.
Kevin also points out that it's a bit wonky that Doonbeg moved up four places this year despite kindof being more or less closed for the year!

Dooks and Doonbeg have swapped completely. Dooks is down 4. Doonbeg is up 4. Dooks' greens are among the best in the country and the course has been given some nice professional touches following their 125th anniversary. Doonbeg, on the other hand, is being upgraded and these upgrades are not yet complete. How can it go up?
So it's all a bit of a mess but packaged and branded under the iconic Golf Digest banner, the fact is that this top 100 list is going to heavily influence tourism traffic to the courses.  Several of the industry people that contacted me pointed out the fact that the main panellists haven't actually played the courses they are rating this year and found it 'dodgy at best' that every resort that has ever hosted the two day ranking panel meeting have always jumped up the rankings.

Oh dear oh dear oh dear.  Sepp Blatter is free and looking for work if anyone is interested!


1.       Royal County Down

2.      Portmarnock Golf Club (Old)

3.      Royal Portrush Golf Club

4.      Lahinch Golf Club

5.      Waterville Golf Links

6.      Ballybunion Golf Club (The Old Course)

7.      Tralee Golf Club

8.     The European Club

9.      Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort

10.  County Sligo Golf Club

11.   Ballyliffin Golf Club (Glashedy)

12.  County Louth Golf Club (Baltray)

13.  The Island Golf Club

14.  Old Head Golf Links

15.   Enniscrone Golf Club

16.  Portstewart Golf Club (The Strand Course)

17.   Belmullet Golf Club (Carne Golf Links)

18.  Ballyliffin Golf Club (Old Links)

19.  Mount Juliet Golf Club

20. K-Club (Palmer Course)

21.  Donegal Golf Club (Murvagh Links)

22. Portsalon Golf Club

23. Killeen Castle Golf Club

24. Trump International Golf Links - Doonbeg

25.  Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links

26. Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort (Sandyhills)

27.  Lough Erne Resort –Faldo Course

28. Dooks Golf Club

29. The Royal Dublin Golf Club

30. Fota Island Hotel & Golf Resort (Deerpark)

31.  Carlow Golf Club

32. Narin And Portnoo Golf Club

33. Druids Glen Hotel & Golf Resort

34. Carton House Hotel & Golf Resort (Montgomerie Course)

35.  Concra Wood Golf Club

36. Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort (Old Tom Morris Course)

37.  Killarney Golf & Fishing Club (Killeen Course)

38. Slieve Russell Hotel & Country Club

39. Cork Golf Club

40. Connemara Golf Links

41.  Castlerock Golf Club

42. Headfort Golf Club (New)

43. Palmerstown Stud

44. Carton House Hotel & Golf Resort (O’Meara Course)

45.  Malone Golf Club

46. Seapoint Golf Club

47.  K-Club (Smurfit Course)

48. Belvoir Park Golf Club

49. Dun Laoghaire Golf Club

50. Royal Portrush Golf Club – (Valley Course)

51.   Tramore Golf Club

52.  Bunclody Golf Club

53.  The Heritage Golf Club

54.  Ballybunion Golf Club (Cashen Course)

55.  Portumna Golf Club

56.  Luttrellstown Castle Golf Club

57.  Arklow Golf Links

58. Hermitage Golf Club

59.  Royal Belfast Golf Club

60. Clandeboye Golf Club

61.  Powerscourt Golf Club (West Course)

62. Dromoland Castle Golf Club

63. Castletroy Golf Club (New)

64. Mount Wolseley Hotel & Golf Resort

65.  Strandhill Golf Club

66. Powerscourt Golf Club (East Course)

67.  Tullamore Golfm Club

68. Galgorm Castle Golf Club

69. Galway Bay Golf Resort

70. Farnham Estate Hotel & Golf Resort

71.   Westport Golf Club

72.  Rosslare Golf Club

73.  Esker Hills Golf Club

74.  Glasson Country House Hotel & Golf Club

75.  Dingle Golf Links –Ceann Sibheal

76.  Shannon Golf Club

77.  Ballinrobe Golf Club

78. Druids Glen Hotel & Golf Resort- Druids Heath

79.  Castlemartyr Hotel & Golf Resort

80.Knightsbrook Hotel & Golf Resort

81.  Tulfarris Hotel & Golf Resort

82. Laytown & Bettystown Golf Club

83. Mullingar Golf Club

84. Dundalk Golf Club

85. Grange Golf Club

86. Castle Golf Club

87. St. Anne’s Golf Links

88.Galway Golf Club

89. Ardglass Golf Links

90. Blainroe Golf Club

91.  St. Margaret’s Golf Club

92. New Forest Golf Club

93. Killarney Golf & Fishing Club (Mahony’s Point)

94. Woodenbridge Golf Club

95.  Headfort (Old Course)

96. Balbriggan Golf Club

97.  Moyola Park Golf Club

98. Moyvalley Hotel & Golf Resort

99. North West Golf Club

100.  Macreddin Golf Club

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