Top 100 Golf Courses UK & Ireland 2023/24

Golf Monthly's new ranking of the UK and Ireland's Top 100 courses

Ballybunion Golf Club Old Course with the top 100 UK and Ireland logo
(Image credit: Evan Schiller / Ballybunion Golf Club)

A very warm welcome to the 2023/24 Golf Monthly rankings, the tenth biennial list of the Top 100 Courses in the UK & Ireland. Having begun life as a Top 120, the process was refined in 2009/10 to make it a Top 100 at the same time as a second tier was added – the Next 100.

We continue to believe that what sets our rankings apart is that they are compiled entirely by knowledgeable, regular club golfers who are enthusiastic about golf course architecture.

For this update, a bigger reader panel allowed us to achieve a record number of well over 700 assessment visits right across the UK&I. To provide stability and balance, the senior panel has remained the same since our third edition in 2009/10.

What became clear from this increased number of reviews is that, with few exceptions, the quality of golf on offer continues to improve. This makes determining exact positions and, in particular, deciding on those just inside and outside the cut-off points, more difficult than ever.

We’ve worked for many years towards a ranking that is robust and sensible, so there are now few big leaps or falls. Most of us are particularly keen to see which new courses have made it in. This is always bittersweet as it means others have to make way for them despite still being fabulous courses.

There are six newcomers to whet the appetite this time – one brand new stunner, two re-entries, and three where major improvements have led to their promotion.

Rosapenna St Patrick's Links

The brand new Rosapenna St Patrick's Links is a new entry this year

(Image credit: St Patrick's Links, Rosapenna Golf Resort. Image courtesy of Clyde Johnson.)

No-one will agree with everything, but that’s fine because, as objective and representative as we try to make the process, it will always be the topic of endless debate among golfers.

We are delighted to welcome Peter Millar as our partner for the 2023/24 Top 100 rankings. Peter Millar is one of the world’s leading premium apparel brands, and one that very much shares our vision for celebrating the best of the best.

We very much hope that you will enjoy our new rankings and be inspired to visit some of these quite brilliant courses.

Prices shown for green fees range from lowest quoted 18-hole fee (sometimes a twilight or winter rate) up to a 36-hole high-season rate (where available). Some clubs offer local resident or hotel guest rates. Winter rates may require the use of fairway mats at some courses. For full details contact the clubs or visit their websites.

Next: 11-20 Courses



Royal County Down par-3 4th hole

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Newcastle, County Down, Northern Ireland
  • Founded: 1889
  • Designed by: Old Tom Morris, George Combe, Harry Vardon and Harry Colt
  • Green fee: £150-£425
  • 23/24 ranking: No change

For many, Royal County Down enjoys arguably the most spectacular setting of any of our traditional links and represents the pinnacle of golf within these shores. With its rollercoaster fairways, blind shots, beautifully natural bunkering and majestic views it delivers a golfing experience without equal.

The ride through the dunes is always exhilarating and often challenging with the Mountains of Mourne providing the glorious backdrop. When the gorse is in bloom, there’s no lovelier place to play. The golfing experience matches the pedigree, with many standout holes, such as the much-photographed par-3 4th from an elevated tee. On the 9th, the town forms the backdrop as your fire one away over a crest to the hidden fairway miles below, and there’s a real sense of anticipation as you stride over the top to see if your perfect drive is as perfect as you thought.

- Royal County Down review and key info

St Andrews Old Course pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: St Andrews, Fife, Scotland
  • Opened: 1552
  • Designed by: Old Tom Morris and Daw Anderson (1850s)
  • Green fee: £190-£295
  • 23/24 ranking: No change

Is there anything that can be said about the Old Course that has not been said before? Almost certainly not. In which case there can be no shame in repeating that it is quite simply the spiritual home of golf. It is at the very heart of the sport, it is the most famous course in the world, and on any serious list of Must Play, Bucket List courses, this really should be top.

It is also different from any other course in the world. There are just eleven greens, only two short holes and two par 5s, it is open to all and it attracts golfers from all over the world, but is closed for golf on Sundays.

It is, in almost every way, unique. Golf has been played over this rolling land since the 15th-Century, and the provenance and evolution of the Old Course is such that its architect is quite simply Nature. With bunkers hiding in the most unexpected places and greens that can confound the first-time visitor, a caddie here is more necessary than perhaps anywhere. There’s the Swilcan Burn, Hell’s Bunker and The Coffins, the Road Hole and its own take-no-prisoners bunker, the Swilcan Bridge and the Valley of Sin. There is everything!

- St Andrews Old review and key info


Trump Turnberry Ailsa par-5 10th hole pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Turnberry, Ayrshire, Scotland
  • Founded: 1902
  • Designed by: Archibald Kennedy and William Fernie (Martin Ebert redesign 2016)
  • Green fee: £175-£475
  • 23/24 ranking: Up 1

The Ailsa Course is one of the more recent newcomers to host The Open. Its first was in 1977 and this put Turnberry on the global golfing map as the final round developed into one of the all-time classics. Tom Watson edged it by just one stroke from Jack Nicklaus. The Open has returned three times, most recently in 2009, since when the course has been greatly improved. Martin Ebert, who had made some earlier changes, was given a far more expansive remit and resources and the course reopened in 2016.

Every hole had received a substantial wash and brush-up, with the most exciting changes occurring out by the lighthouse. The first of these was the creation of a spectacular par 3, the 9th. This is now a daunting prospect from the back tee, played over the cliffs and crags to a new green right by of the lighthouse. The new 10th is a thrilling par 5 along the cliffs, and the 11th is another new hole, a picture-perfect par 3 that yet again flirts with danger all the way on the left.

- Trump Turnberry Ailsa review and key info


Muirfield par-4 8th hole pictured

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Gullane, East Lothian, Scotland
  • Founded: 1744 (course opened: 1922)
  • Designed by: Old Tom Morris, Harry Colt and Tom Simpson
  • Green fee: £150-£495
  • 23/24 ranking: Down 1

Effectively playing as two loops of nine holes, with the wind coming at the player from every point on the compass during the round, Muirfield is a simply fabulous design, providing a stringent examination of every aspect of the game, both physical and mental. For many, it’s the fairest links test of all, with everything laid out in front of you.

The course is always immaculately conditioned, and the turf is a joy to play from. The course is strong throughout, but the run for home is particularly tough with par being a very good score at the two challenging par 3s, the 13th and 16th. The par-5 17th provides a birdie chance though, and the opportunity for drama right at the end of a round. In the 2013 Open Championship, Phil Mickelson struck two mighty blows onto the green to secure the win.

The Open Championship has visited Muirfield on 16 occasions and the East Lothian links has been the scene of some of the most thrilling instalments of golf’s greatest tournament. It’s a historic golfing venue and a real experience to visit.

- Muirfield review and key info


The par-4 11th at Royal Birkdale

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Southport, Merseyside, England
  • Founded: 1889
  • Designed by: Fred Hawtree and JH Taylor
  • Green fee: £185-£320
  • 23/24 ranking: Up 2

Originally designed in the late 1890s by George Lowe, this pre-eminent links was further developed by Hawtree and Taylor in the 1920s into a magnificent test of golf. Since 1954 it has hosted no fewer than ten Open Championships with the roll-call of victors including Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson.

The design ethos here has been to run the holes through the dunes rather than over them, the result being a very honest test that receives universal praise. The four par 3s are all very strong and engaging, with perhaps the standout being the 12th which is played to a steep-fronted green set in an amphitheatre of dunes. A sublime and endlessly varied links that’s simply the best course in England.

- Royal Birkdale review and key info


Royal Dornoch hole along the coast

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location: Dornoch, Sutherland, Scotland
  • Founded: 1877
  • Designed by: John Sutherland/Old Tom Morris/George Duncan
  • Green fee: £150-£400
  • 23/24 ranking: No change

The philanthropist and industrialist Andrew Carnegie said of his home in Dornoch, “If there is heaven on earth, it is here.”

It is a captivating place that will leave an indelible imprint on the memory. It’s a beautiful setting and an equally attractive golf course, the holes blend so naturally with the surroundings it would be hard to believe it has not existed since time began. Royal Dornoch is a forward-thinking club and is always looking to improve its already tremendous offering. Following dramatic improvements to the 7th hole, work has been undertaken to enhance the 8th hole. The tees have been shifted to change the playing characteristics and a significant amount of gorse and soil has been removed to open up the vistas of hills and sea.

- Royal Dornoch review and key info

Carnoustie's Championship course

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland
  • Founded: 1842 
  • Designed by: Allan Robertson, Old Tom Morris and James Braid
  • Green fee: £198-£282
  • 23/24 ranking: Down 2

The Championship course at Carnoustie delivers one of the sternest yet measured tests of golf of any layout in the world. It’s a course that demands both skill and strategy. There may be no views of the sea around the course at Carnoustie but the terrain is pure links.

The turf is firm and sandy over natural bumps and hollows. The narrow fairways are protected by rough, streams and magnetic bunkering as they pick their way carefully towards the vast, supremely maintained, and often fast, greens. It's a great championship venue and was most recently used for The Open in 2018 when Francesco Molinari plotted his way over the baked fairways to a memorable victory.

- Carnoustie review and key info


Royal Portrush golf club course picture

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Portrush, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
  • Founded: 1888
  • Designed by: Harry Colt
  • Green fee: £295
  • 23/24 ranking: No change

The Dunluce was designed by the legendary Harry Colt, one of the greatest golf course architects of all time. Even before two new holes were introduced in preparation for the 2019 Open Championship, there were plenty who felt it was already right up there with the very best golf courses in Ireland.

Packed with sublime golf, selecting a stand-out hole would be tough but the par-4 5th is a quite spectacular hole where you drive from an elevated tee down to the fairway before you turn right towards the ocean.

The final par 3 is a classic, the super-tough 16th, Calamity Corner.

- Royal Portrush Dunluce review and key info


The 7th hole at Sunningdale pictured

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
  • Location: Sunningdale, Berkshire, England
  • Opened: 1901
  • Designed by: Willie Park Jr
  • Green fee: £325-£550
  • 23/24 ranking: No change

A Willie Park Jnr design that was opened for play in 1901, the Old Course at Sunningdale Golf Club is a superb heathland layout set amidst the pines, with heather-lined fairways leading to fabulous putting surfaces that are famously smooth and true.

The course delivers a classic test of heathland golf, where placement and strategy must be to the fore. The greens and surrounds are always immaculate. A deft short game is essential for success around the Old Course.

Walking up the final hole towards the striking clubhouse and the iconic old oak tree, one gets a sense of the golfing gravitas exuded by the place. Sunningdale Golf Club occupies an important place within the sport.

- Sunningdale Old Course review and key info


Sunningdale New Course 5th hole

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Location: Sunningdale, Berkshire, England
  • Opened: 1923
  • Designed by: Harry Colt
  • Green fee: £325-£550
  • 23/24 ranking: No change

Designed by Colt and Morrison and opened in 1923, the great Harry Colt’s influence on the New Course at Sunningdale is perhaps best evidenced by the five, wonderful par 3s on the course.

Each demands a precise tee shot, often to a deceptively narrow landing area. Only one of the five measures over 200 yards. It’s testament to the fact clever design rather than length makes a short hole challenging.

There are some stunning views as you make your way round the New Course. Perhaps the best comes on the 6th tee. From an elevated position you look out over the surrounding countryside before firing down to the fairway below. It’s an inspiring spot and the course is inspiring throughout.

- Sunningdale New Course review and key info

Next: 11-20 Courses

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV

With contributions from