Ivan Morris Column - It’s time to list our favourite courses

Limerick Leader golf columnist Ivan Morris
In his weekly Limerick Leader column, Ivan Morris looks at some of the annual lists compiled to the decide the best golf courses in the country.

In his weekly Limerick Leader column, Ivan Morris looks at some of the annual lists compiled to the decide the best golf courses in the country.

There is nothing wrong with anybody liking one golf course more than another but I am dismissive of ranking golf courses in long, numerical lists.

Personal top-10s or top-20s (at most) are fine, which is just as well because the editor keeps telling me he likes publishing my lists and that I should do it more often. The lists, that is, not necessarily my choices!

Ranking lists are a marketing ploy by golf course owners trying to drum up green fee income and golf magazines intent on selling them advertising space; nothing inherently wrong with either of those aims as long as you keep it in mind every time you see a list of golf course rankings. They should be taken with a grain of salt. I’m convinced that the further down the pecking order you go the more unwarrantable nitpicking is involved. We all have our favourites and we are entitled to them but when it comes to naming 50 or 100 - give me a break! Will you settle for 15?

Backspin magazine asked me to name my top 15 links and parkland courses in Ireland and because I thought it a reasonable number I went ahead with my submission, naming Waterville and Cork, as my respective No 1s.

Lo and behold, Golf Digest Ireland published its top-100 list and Backspin published its top-30 lists for 2013 simultaeneously, but neither of my No 1s finished in the first three in either of the magazine’s lists, let alone came out on top! So much for MY favourites!

As of today my personal top 15 Irish Links Courses are: 1- Waterville; 2 - Lahinch; 3 - Royal Portrush (Dunluce); 4 - Portmarnock; 5 - The European Club; 6 - Royal County Down; 7- Ballybunion Old; 8 - County Sligo; 9 - Ballyliffin Old; 10 - Rosapenna Old; 11 - The Island; 12 - Doonbeg; 13 - County Louth; 14 - ortmarnock Links; 15 - Dooks.

My top 15 Irish Parkland Courses – 1 - Cork; 2 - Adare; 3 - Malone; 4 - Portumna; 5 - Slieve Russell; 6 - Carlow; 7 - Lough Erne; 8 - Mount Juliet; 9 - Fota Island; 10 - Castle; 11 - Bunclody; 12 - Westport; 13 - Killarney (Killeen); 14 - Farnham Estate; 15 - Carton (O’Meara).

Not surprisingly, Golf Digest Ireland’s panel came up with a different result: (Links) 1 - Portmarnock; 2 - Royal County Down; 3 - Royal Portrush (Dunluce); 4 - Waterville; 5 - Lahinch; 6 - Ballybunion Old; 7 - Tralee; 8 - County Louth; 9 - The European Club; 10 - Ballyliffin (Glashedy); 11 - County Sligo; 12 - Enniscrone; 13 - The Island; 14 - Carne; 15 - Portstewart.

Whereas, GDI’s top 15 parklands are: 1 - Adare; 2 - Mount Juliet; 3 - Old Head Links; 4 - Killen Castle; 5 - K-Club; 6 - Lough Erne; 7 - Carlow; 8 - Carton House (Montgomerie); 9 - Fota Island; 10 - Cork; 11 - Headfort (New); 12 - Druid’s Glen; 13 - Killarney (Killeen); 14 - Slieve Russell; 15 - Concra Wood. How Old Head Links appears on a parkland list takes some explaining. It’s a headland that is not remotely like a links or a parkland course.

To be honest, I would have fewer quibbles with Backswing’s links list although it’s more or less the same suspects playing a game of musical chairs. Backspin’s top 15 Links selection is as follows: 1 - Portmarnock; 2 - Royal Portrush (Dunluce); 3 - Royal County Down; 4 - The European Club; 5 - Lahinch Old; 6 - Waterville; 7 - County Louth; 8 - Ballybunion Old; 9 - County Sligo; 10 - The Island; 11 - Ballyliffin (Glashedy); 12 - Tralee; 13 - Royal Dublin; 14 - Portstewart; 15 - Doonbeg.

Backspin’s verdict on parklands puts me at a disadvantage because there are three courses on it that I have not played, Headfort, Killeen Castle and Concra Wood. Backswing’s top 15 list of Irish parkland courses: 1 - Mount Juliet; 2 - Adare; 3 - K-Club (Palmer); 4 - Killarney (Killeen); 5 - Druid’s Glen; 6 - Headfort (New); 7 - Lough Erne; 8 - Killeen Castle; 9 - The Heritage; 10 - Carlow; 11 - Malone; 12 - Fota Island; 13 - Carton (Montgomerie); 14 - Concra Wood; 15 - Cork.

The digital Golfing Weekly came out with its top 50 parkland courses too. Their top 15 belies a decidedly Dublin bias that reflects the breakdown of where the majority of the 4165 online voters probably reside: 1 - K Club (Palmer), 2 - Mount Juliet, 3 - Adare, 4 - Druids Glen, 5 - Lough Erne, 6 - Killeen Castle, 7 - The Heritage, 8 - Killarney (Killeen), 9 -Carton (O’Meara), 10 - Sieve Russell, 11 - Cork, 12 - Dun Laoire, 13 - Carlow, 14- Headfort (New), 15 - K Club (Smurfit).

GUI Trip To La Manga

Following on from their successful sponsorship of the Irish Mixed Foursomes in 2012 and 2013, the Spanish Tourist Board is delighted to announce a seven-day, competitive trip to La Manga in partnership with the Golfing Union of Ireland.

Departing from the airport of your choice on April 26 2014 the tournament will be based at the five stars, Spanish Resort of La Manga.

The package includes
 seven nights Bed and Breakfast (Twin Room)
, four Rounds of Golf at La Manga (3 competition rounds) including transfers to golf each day with prizes daily; a Gala Dinner including drinks and return Airport transfers (Alicante or Murcia.)
Free entry to the Spa Facility at La Manga Resort; golf tuition with Kenny Fahey (GUI National Golf Academy Professional.)


There are two accommodation options - the 5**** Principe Felipe Hotel from €784 per person sharing based on bed and breakfast
or
4**** Las Lomas Village from €584 per person sharing based on bed and breakfast. Flights are not included in above prices.The golf tournaments will consist of one round at each of the courses in La Manga, decided by stableford points. Official handicap certificates are required.

If you would like more details about this fabulous trip to one of the best golf resorts in Europe, please contact golfholidays.ie@gmail.com/
Or Phone: 01-697 5734. I’ve been lucky to stay and play at La Manga half-a-dozen times. I recommend it highly.

Words of the Wise: There is no other way to get the most out of golf than to compete. The day you stop competing is the day you start the long walk to the graveyard – Jackie Burke.