Four Meath golf courses are in the Golf Digest Volvo Top 100 Ranked Irish Golf Courses 2013.
With input from the magazine's readers now making up almost a third of the total vote, the leading positions are unchanged in this year's Golf Digest Volvo Top-100 Ranked Irish Golf Courses. Which would suggest that rank and file players are agreeing with our expert panel in the most comprehensive examination of its kind of the island's golfing terrain. And while their input has been significant, the top-three in the list Royal Co Down, Portmarnock and Royal Portrush remains unchanged from last year. Four Meath Clubs make the list with Killeen Castle in Dunsany highest placed at 17 (up 1); Headfort comes in at 36, the same position as last year. Laytown Bettystown is also unchanged at 77, while Knightsbrook is down seven places to 92.
Killeen Castle retains its number 3 position in the top parkland courses, behind Adare and Mount Juliet.
This is the second year that golfers from around the country have contributed to the ranking process. From a response of more than 1,500, a total of 50 from a wide spread of locations, were invited to review courses and submit their views.
They were briefed during a get-together at Druids Glen last March and went on to generate over 600 reports on clubs throughout the country. Apart from accounting for a percentage of the total vote for each course in the final ranking, their views were also distributed to panel members, giving a valuable, extra dimension to the overall process.
Since its launch nine years ago, Golf Digest Ireland's Course Ranking has become an extremely influential initiative. A panel of industry experts spend months visiting and rating hundreds of Irish golf courses to produce the ranking which ultimately acts as an important indicator of the state of the game here.
At the beginning of each year, Golf Digest Ireland writes to every club with an 18-hole course, inquiring if any upgrade work has been undertaken over the previous 12 months. In this context, no fewer than 104 golf clubs wrote back this year, outlining details of various projects they had addressed. Where appropriate, these clubs were then added to last year's Top-100. Also added were the leading 20 golf clubs which did not make last year's rankings. From this comprehensive list, the final ranking was made.
Pádraig O'hUiginn, former Chairman of Fáilte Ireland, continued in the role as chairman and for the latest rankings, was joined by Eddie Connaughton (Agronomist), Kate MacCann (former Irish international), Valerie Hassett (Munster Interprovincial), Ally McIntosh (Golf Digest Ireland course design columnist), John Kelly (PGA professional and former Irish PGA Order of Merit winner), Dougie Heather (former Irish amateur international), Linton Walsh (Editor of Golf Digest Ireland), Kevin Whitson (PGA Professional) and Mark MaGowan (PGA Professional). New additions this year were Stephen May (readers panellist) and Alan McDonnell (Head Greenkeeper at Adare Manor).
The scoring system employed to assess golf clubs was as follows:
Shot making/variety 20 points
Design Variety 10 points
WOW factor 10 points
Memorability 10 points
Condition 10 points
Playability 10 points
Degree of difficulty/fairness