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Forget about Augusta and St Andrews - Irish golf course named best in the world

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Royal County Down in all its glory.
Royal County Down in all its glory.

ROYAL COUNTY DOWN has been named the world’s best golf course in the annual rankings compiled by Golf Digest magazine.

The links course, which hosted the Irish Open last year, beat off stiff competition from renowned venues such as Augusta National and Pine Valley to top the pile.

The home of the Masters is ranked in second while Pine Valley dropped to third. Cypress Point, Scotland’s Royal Dornoch and Royal Melbourne complete the top six.

Royal County Down jumped from fourth and is one of three Irish courses in the top 30 with Portmarnock (25) and Royal Portrush (27) among the best on offer around the world.

Lahinch (65) is the only other Irish track included in the rankings with over 1,800 evaluated as part of the process.

It is a list heavily populated by links courses with 46 of the top 100 being seaside venues.

“On a clear spring day, with Dundrum Bay to the east, the Mountains of Mourne to the south and gorse-covered dunes in golden bloom, there is no lovelier place in golf than our new No. 1,” the Golf Digest rankings says of Royal County Down.


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“Its design is attributed to Old Tom Morris but was refined by half a dozen architects in the past 120 years, most recently by Donald Steel.

“Though the greens are surprisingly flat, as if to compensate for the rugged terrain and numerous blind shots, bunkers are a definite highlight, most with arched eyebrows of dense marram grasses and impenetrable clumps of heather.”

A view of the course Crowds at the 2015 Irish Open at Royal County Down. Source: Presseye/Matt Mackey/INPHO

The Northern Irish course staged the Irish Open for the first time in 76 years in 2015 and has also hosted numerous amateur tournaments.

Have you played any of the Irish courses included and, if so, are they deserving of their lofty position? 

Golf Digest’s Top 10 Golf Courses:

  1. Royal County Down (Ireland)
  2. Augusta National (Georgia)
  3. Pine Valley (New Jersey)  
  4. Cypress Point Club (California)
  5. Royal Dornoch (Scotland)
  6. Royal Melbourne (Australia)
  7. Shinnecock Hills (New York)
  8. The Old Course at St Andrews (Scotland)
  9. Muirfield (Scotland)
  10. Merion (Pennsylvania)

 Full rankings available here.

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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