I wrote earlier in the year about the new Golf Monthly UK and Ireland Top 100 list and some of the methodological flaws it may have. Next up for a critique is the recently released National Club Golfer Top 100 Courses in Scotland 2018/19. I can’t find it anywhere online so I have reproduced the ranking at the bottom of this article..
Like the Golf Monthly list, this is a product of scores from raters and a carefully constructed formula. However, there is more emphasis on the architecture and design than in the Golf Monthly list. 10% of the score goes on conditioning and presentation, 10% on scenery/ambience, 10% on charm and the remaining 70% goes to various architectural/design categories.
Here are some highlights:
Turnberry is once number 1 again.
The top three (1 Turnberry, 2 The Old Course and 3 Muirfield) can only just be split but it’s maybe telling that they come out in the same order as in the Golf Monthly UK list.
Turnberry’s claim to be the number one course in the UK is definitely gathering steam the more people experience the fantastic work that has gone on there in recent years. The most prestigious world lists such as golf.com and planetgolf.com still have Turnberry way down but I imagine if they play it now it will vault up these lists too.
The best course in Scotland few people will have heard of.
This list has a great mixture of the old and new. North Berwick (9) and Cruden Bay (10) are highly ranked but beaten by two more recent courses in Skibo Castle (7) and Loch Lomond (8).
Skibo is a particular stand-out. This is an incredibly high ranking for the course that few will have heard of and fewer still will have played. It is mainly the preserve of members of the exclusive residential Carnegie Club but the 9am tee time is available to visitors. I think that’s a nice touch from the club and I hope they keep it going. Skibo is just a few minutes drive from Royal Dornoch and if the new Coore and Crenshaw course at Coul Links comes to fruition this is sure to be a coveted tee time. I’ve not made it up there to play yet but am hoping to take the trip before too long to see how they have created the 7th best course in Scotland and whether it truly warrants that place.
You can’t get it right all the time.
As with every list, there are some things I could disagree with. I have an almost visceral reaction against the PGA Centenary course and I just can’t see how this Nicklaus abomination can make it to position 43. However, I think they have made a good call not putting the Renaissance too high (31 feels about right). I was expecting The Machrie to chart a little higher than 29 but that’s only on the basis of what I have read elsewhere. I need a visit to decide for myself.
Try and get the your hands on a copy of the magazine.
I managed to get my hands on a print copy of the magazine supplement and it is really great. The course write-ups are nice but the accompanying articles are where the real fun lies. A lot of thought has been put into the publication with some great articles by thoughtful writers. Ed Hodge’s history lesson on the 9 hole courses of Scotland was a particular delight and Mike Keiser gives us an insight into why he wants to develop Coul Links. I would urge you to get your hands on one if you can and hopefully they will make it available digitally - it’s a great loss otherwise.
If you’re planning a trip - go deep!
This list really comes into its own if you are planning a trip to Scotland and don’t just want to ram your schedule with the Open venues and glamour names. Use the map below to come up with an itinerary that will surprise and delight your party and pretend you have all the local knowledge!
So, a huge well done to NCG. I look forward to their future geographical supplements but would urge them to get them put online. Oh, and sort out the PGA at Gleneagles for the next edition…