Portmarnock tops Royal County Down in new Golf Digest Ireland course ranking, and that is absurd
Golf Digest Ireland has released its Top 100 golf courses in Ireland ranking, and there is a very noticeable upset at the top. Portmarnock Golf Club near Dublin has been given the top spot for 2009, now rated higher than Royal County Down, a mainstay near the top.
According to the magazine it was for “key improvements, especially run-off areas on several greens”.
Look, I’m all for praising courses for renovations and improvements, especially when its to centuries old links that need a good deal of upkeep every so often.
That said, unless these improved green runoffs at Portmarnock now feature towering dunes, overwhelming gorse, and a gloomy Mountains of Mourne backdrop, I’m not buying the bump. Royal County Down is as captivating of a setting to play golf in the world, and even if Portmarnock is a well-designed, true links, I’d play RCD every day of the week over it. Probably the only course I’d rather play in the world is the Old Course at St. Andrews, and five times out of ten I’d probably go for RCD over it.
In fact, I would play Lahinch over it as well (having not seen these improvements since the spring of 2007).
I’m wondering if the magazine is simply trying to turn some heads with the ranking - kind of like Golf Digest in America rated Augusta National higher than Pine Valley in their 2009 ranking for the first time in years.
I’m not totally knocking Portmarnock here, it’s still an Irish Top 10 traditional links, but no way is it Eire’s top. That belongs to RCD, for a long, long while. If you’re planning an Irish links trip in the near future and can afford the somewhat steep sticker fee of £140-160, by all means book it (in fact, I’d try and book two rounds if you can). If you’re not quite feeling the high price, head northwest to enchanting, lesser-discovered courses like Enniscrone, Ballyliffin and Rosapenna.
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