The World's Top 100 Rankings

Scotland, Ireland & England

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Scotland has the land mass of South Carolina, yet has fifteen golf course variously rated in the world’s top-100, and six in the top-20.

Turnberry 10th green

Image by Kevin Murray CLICK 

The Golf Mine

SCOTLAND

RANK
COURSE
PUBLICATION
3 St Andrews Old Course Golf.com
5 Royal Dornoch Golf Digest
8 Turnberry, Ailsa Course 100bestcourses.com
9 Muirfield Golf Digest
26 Carnoustie Golf Digest
37 North Berwick Golf.com
43 Kingsbarns 100bestcourses.com
51 Royal Troon Golf.com
52 Royal Aberdeen 100bestcourses.com
53 Castle Stuart 100bestcourses.com
54 Trump Aberdeen Golf Digest
63 Cruden Bay Golf.com
75 Prestwick Golf.com
81 Ardfin 100bestcourses.com
91 Machrihanish Golf Digest

The Golf Digest ranking is a bit dated now as they’ve since split their ratings into American and Non-American. We’ve used their last published world-ranking. 100bestgolfcourses tends to skew European. Golf Magazines rankings are often regarded as the benchmark. Scotland still has thirteen entries on their list

IRELAND

RANK
COURSE
PUBLICATION
1 Royal County Down Golf Digest
11 Royal Portrush 100bestcourses.com
21 Ballybunion Golf.com
25 Portmarnock Golf Digest
29 Lahinch 100bestcourses.com
93 European Club 100bestcourses.com
97 Waterville Golf.com

ENGLAND

RANK
COURSE
PUBLICATION
35 Royal Birkdale Golf Digest
58 Royal Lytham 100bestcourses.com
65 Hoylake Golf.com

Royal Portrush, 5th green

Image by Kevin Murray CLICK 

Royal County Down

Ireland's top

St Andrews

Scotland's Top

Royal Birkdale

England's top

Muirfield

Image by Kevin Murray CLICK 

Royal Dornoch 5th

Image by Kevin Murray CLICK 

Royal Dornoch

In the high north of Scotland, Royal Dornoch is often something of the ‘odd one out’ amongst those visiting golfer’s who are trying to assemble their bucket list of elite courses. Geography ensures that this is the most difficult to fit in. Dornoch’s par 3’s, ‘Foxy’, the 14th, described as the ‘most natural hole in golf’, plus the notorious gorse bushes all make for a tough examination of iron play and one you’d ideally like ‘to bag’.

Royal Dornoch can be included as part of a tour, but you’ll need to accept some mileage and be strategic about when to introduce it. The secret probably hangs on Gleneagles. Discover how

Carnoustie

Carnoustie has an altogether more blue collar heritage than the somewhat aristocratic St Andrews. If St Andrews is champagne the Carnoustie is vintage port. If St Andrews is Mozart, Carnoustie is Beethoven. It’s length and exposure, plus its turning nature which means you encounter headwinds, tailwinds and crosswinds make it a sterner examination. It’s usually the name that golfer’s give you when you ask them which is the hardest course on the Open Championship rotation. Yet it’s strangely beautiful too, even if this needn’t be immediately obvious. It’s a course you learn to love and perhaps one that endures in the memory more than most

Carnoustie 16th

Image thanks to Colin McLeod, Carnoustie Golf Links

Castle Stuart 11th

Prestwick 1st, 'the Railway'

Image by Kevin Murray CLICK 

Prestwick

Prestwick is the home of the original Open Championship from 1860, and naturally the birth place of tournament golf. Perhaps this is where a past-time became a sport and ultimately an industry. Prestwick last hosted in 1925, which to some extent ensured it’s been partly locked in time. Prestwick didn’t need to observe the paradigms of championship design. It was able to retain its quirky old blind shots and capricious fairways. The 17th is the original 2nd from 1860, and still in its original configuration. This makes it the oldest hole in Championship golf, and features the notorious ‘Sahara’ bunker, Europe’s biggest. The blind par three 5th, ‘Himalayas’, is a played over a hill using a marker board on the top. The par five, 3rd, ‘the Cardinal’ is a favourite too. It would be mistake to think Prestwick is a gimmicky old curio though. Prestwick stands-up on merit, holding a world top-100 ranking in it’s own right.

Kingsbarns

Built in 1906, Turnberry was the newest course to hold a world top-100 until Kingsbarns came along in 2000. They said it couldn’t be done, designing a links layout. They were wrong. Since 2000 Castle Stuart, and Trump Aberdeen followed Kingsbarns onto the prestigious world ranking. Dumbarnie looks destined to join them. Although they fell short of the global list,  Dundonald, and the Renaissance Club were also built in the shadow of Kingsbarns and have gone onto Scottish Open. Machrihanish Dunes, might have danced to a slightly different tune but is another quality 21st century addition. Kingsbarns spurred a building spree that rejuvenated Scottish golf. Does this make Kingsbarns the most important golf course built in Scotland?

Kingsbarns 15th,

Image by Iain Lowe courtesy of Kingsbarns

The Top Courses

Take a look at the elite courses that are likely to form the core of a Scottish 'Bucket list'

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The Famous Holes

It's not just about the course. Some of golf's most famous holes can also be 'bagged'

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Smart Plays

There are some less appreciated opportunities that can add value without necessarily incurring a burden

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How to add Dornoch

On its high northerly latitude Dornoch isn't easy to include. This explains how best to try

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Ireland

OK, it's not Scotland, but there are opportunities to weave some of Ireland's top courses onto a Scottish trip. No harm in showing you a few!

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