independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Never mind the 'best courses' lists – discounts for top courses are real No 1

IF you want to get people het-up in any Irish golf club bar, simply start listing the top courses on our fair island. 'Golf Digest Ireland' have made a business of it.

The unveiling of their annual Top-100 is sure to stir more controversy and bitter debate than belly-putters or the desecration-by-JCB of the Old Course at St Andrews.

Speaking for myself, Royal Co Down's selection yet again at No 1 is nonsensical. Sure it's a wonderful, old-fashioned links in a glorious setting. However, with so many blind shots, it doesn't hold a candle to the upgraded Portmarnock as the fairest, finest yet still most challenging of our great seaside courses.

Like the Government, ' Golf Digest' cod us that their highly-qualified panel of experts, with the assistance of more than 600 first-hand reports from 50 hand-picked readers, bring a measure of science to the selection process.

They award points under seven different headings, from shot-making and design variety to course condition and the 'wow' factor.

Frankly, that's like asking Einstein and Nostradamus to pick your lotto numbers, when you're as likely to win with family birthdays and the number of fleas you find on the dog's back.

So Royal Dublin drops from 19th place to 24th; Portmarnock Links rises eight places from the ashes of NAMA to 23rd and glorious Woodenbridge hangs in there at 100.

It's all utterly meaningless ... yet, since when did that ever stop us Irish from having a good row.

Of far more significance are the greens fees you'll pay to play these beauties. We've listed the winter rates available on club websites, though there are even better early bird and twilight deals on offer, plus decent discounts for GUI and ILGU members.

With the passing of the Celtic Tiger, truly phenomenal value is to be had on Irish fairways. You can play Royal Co Down for £50 – Wow! Always loved that place!

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