Top 100 Golf Course Rankings Evaluated

Top 100 Golf Course rankings are popular and we love the discussion and buzz they produce. However, not all Top 100 Golf Course rankings are created equal. Below are a few of the rankings widely available and an overview of what makes them different and offer a suggestion of who may prefer which ranking.

National Club Golfer Top 100 Ranking

Newly published in 2020, the National Club Golfer Top 100 is a well rounded Top 100 Ranking.

NCG Ranking Criteria

  • 20% - Architecture & Design (Well designed individual holes? Course as a whole? Is there a mix of strategic, penal and heroic holes?)
  • 10% - Conditioning & Presentation (Turf & green quality plus consistency.)
  • 10% - Consistency (Does the course get better during the round? Is the design harmonious?)
  • 10% - Scenery, Surroundings & Ambience (Is the course attractive?)
  • 10% - Playability (Enjoyable for the shorter hitter and higher handicapper?)
  • 10% - Challenge (Does it challenge an elite golfer?)
  • 10% - Variety (Does it test all facets of one's game? Is it predictable? Does it require a variety of shot types?)
  • 10% - Routing (Long walks between holes? Does it flow? Are holes sequentially different?)
  • 10% - Charm, Distinctiveness & Memorability (Do you want to return? Can you remember the course?)

NCG Top 100 Golf Course Ranking Evaluation

The panel is smaller than most others with 8 members. 4 are single-digit golfers and the rest are better than bogey golfers. Course reviews are weighted to give more frequent and fresher visits greater worth. The panel is small and there are some bold takes - especially Skibo Castle ahead of 16 stalwarts in the Golf Top 100 in the World List! An excellent first Top 100 list, you would expect the panel to perhaps grow and rankings to be refined.

However, we love the fact the golf is what is rated as opposed to bits and pieces before the 1st tee and after the 18th green. The weighting and criteria are well balanced and are a great way for the amateur to analyse their own golf experience. The explanation of the criteria isn't obscure nor does it leave much ambiguity. Seeing Royal Worlington slot in provides instant credibility to any ranking in our books. The panel was obviously willing to take risks and not be swayed by other rankings.

NCG Top 100 Ranking Is Best...

If you are a better golfer & only interested in the golf itself - National Club Golfer may be the ranking for you.

NCG Top 100 Ranking VS The Competition

NCG was the only ranking to leave off:

  • Broadstone
  • Walton Heath New
  • Woburn Marquess

NCG was the only ranking to include:

  • Royal Worlington
  • Luffness
  • Elie
  • Panmure
  • Gailes Links
  • Dunbar
  • Beau Desert
  • The Addington

Golf Monthly Top 100 Ranking

A perennial powerhouse from a media titan, the Golf Monthly Top 100 Ranking is the ranking the commercial clubs driven by visitor income want to climb!

Golf Monthly Ranking Criteria

  • 35% - Quality of Test & Design
  • 30% - Conditioning & Presentation
  • 15% - Visual Appeal (Internally & Externally)
  • 10% - Club Facilities
  • 10% - Overall Visitor Experience

Golf Monthly Top 100 Golf Course Ranking Evaluation

Beginning in 2004, the list has been compiled 8 times on a biennial review. They have tried to make the subjective selection process objective claiming they are fair as possible, adjusting for improvements and upgrades. They begin with the current Top 100 list and supplement it with 40-50 contenders. The assessors can play the courses in matches, society visits or whilst off-duty with friends. There are three categories of panel members: Senior (3), Staff (10) and Reader (21). The Senior Panel ranges in age from 48-61 with handicaps from 6-14. The Staff Panel ranges in age from 23-62 with handicaps from 4-18. The Reader Panel ranges in age from 32-72 with handicaps from 2-18.

Up to 35% of the rating and therefore rank is based on characteristics other than the course itself. This isn't right nor wrong, just different. Internal Visual Appeal, Club Facilities and Overall Visitor Experience are no doubt important to a club's ranking but does it reflect where the golf course should be? The ranking leaves off courses that are not pay-for-play. The would explain the exclusion of Beaverbrook, JCB & Loch Lomond.

Golf Monthly Top 100 Ranking Is Best...

If the overall golf experience as important to you as the golf itself.

GM Top 100 Golf Course Ranking VS The Competition

Golf Monthly was the only ranking to leave off:

  • Carne
  • Hindhead
  • Loch Lomond
  • Machrihanish Dunes
  • Moray
  • Renaissance Club
  • Skibo
  • Wentworth Club West

Golf Monthly was the only ranking to include:

  • Blairgowrie Rosemont
  • Druids Glen
  • Dumbarnie
  • Ferndown
  • Mount Juliet
  • Murcar
  • Remedy Oak
  • Saunton West
  • The Belfry
  • The Grove
  • Trevose
  • Woburn Duchess
  • Woburn Duke's

2021 Golf Monthly Top 100 Ranking Changes

For 2021, Golf Monthly added the following courses:

  • Dumbarnie Links (Debuted at 40)
  • Princes (Re-entered at 76)
  • Remedy Oak (Re-entered at 100)

For 2021, Golf Monthly removed the following courses:

  • Close House Lee Westwood
  • Lough Erne
  • Tandridge

From 2020 to 2021, the biggest movers were:

  • The Machrie (Up 38)
  • Princes (Re-entry at 76 equates to Up a Minimum of 25)
  • Liphook (Up 11)
  • Lahinch (Up 6)


  • The Belfry (Down 9)
  • Trump Doonbeg (Down 8)
  • Machrihanish (Down 8)
  • Rye (Down 8)
  • Blairgowrie (Down 7)
  • Mount Juliet (Down 7)
  • Aberdovey (Down 6)
  • The Grove (Down 6)

Interesting observations:

  • Golf Monthly is the only rank to have two inland courses in the Top 10, Sunningdale Old and New.
  • Golf Monthly is more bullish on Royal Liverpool, The European, Adare Manor, Burnham & Berrow, Hillside, Hankley Common, Old Head, Nairn, Royal St David's & Tralee in the Top 50 than the other rankings. (Equating to greater disparity in rank.)
  • Golf Monthly is less bullish on North Berwick in the Top 50 than the other rankings. (Equating to greater disparity in rank.)

Top 100 Golf Courses Rank

A digital powerhouse, the Top 100 Golf Course website is a go-to resource in the modern age.

Top 100 Golf Courses Rank Criteria

  • 40% - Quality of Test & Design
  • 30% - Visual Appeal and Enjoyment
  • 30% - Presentation

Top 100 Golf Course Ranking Evaluation 

A staple of the digital golf landscape, the raters appear to be decorated amateurs and professionals.  One is also intrigued by the rules and algorithms used. The website uses trusted expert opinions from golfers who have played extensively in their country or territory. Rankings are usually done biennially using rules and algorithms. They consider the rankings to be honest, informed and genuine. Club professionals & club champions are relied on heavily for their insight and opinions.

As golf club professionals & club champions are relied on heavily for their insight and opinions, we wonder if a club champion and professional could be biased in their appraisal? Do the criteria lend themselves to being more subjective? Does proficiency in playing the game and scoring well make you an authority on good golf?

Top 100 Golf Course Ranking Is Best...

If you are an accomplished golfer and you golf professionals and top amateurs are in a position to tell you what good golf is.

Top 100 Golf Course Ranking VS The Competition

Top 100 Golf Courses was the only ranking to leave off:

  • None fit this criterion. All courses appear on at least one other Top 100 Golf Course rank.

Top 100 Golf Courses was the only ranking to include:

  • Ardfin
  • Brora
  • Castletown
  • Delamere Forest
  • Dundonald
  • JCB
  • Queenwood
  • Royal Ashdown Forest
  • Wentworth East

Consensus Top 100 List

Between the three rankings evaluated (National Club Golfer, Golf Monthly and Top 100 Golf Courses) here is the Consensus Top 100 (which numbers 79):

Aberdovey Golf Club
Adare Manor
Alwoodley Golf Club (The)
Ballybunion – Old Course
Ballyliffin Glashedy
Ballyliffin Old
Berkshire Golf Club (The) – The Blue Course
Berkshire Golf Club (The) – The Red Course
Burnham & Berrow – Championship
Carnoustie – Championship
Castle Stuart Golf Links
County Louth Golf Club (Baltray)
County Sligo Golf Club at Rosses Point – Colt Championship Links
Cruden Bay Golf Club
Enniscrone Golf Club – The Dunes
European Club (The)
Formby Golf Club
Ganton Golf Club
Gleneagles – The King’s Course
Gleneagles – The Queen’s Course
Gullane Golf Club Course No. 1
Hankley Common Golf Club
Hillside Golf Club
Hunstanton Golf Club
Kingsbarns Golf Links
Lahinch Golf Club – Old Course Championship
Liphook Golf Club
Machrie (The) – The Machrie Links
Machrihanish Golf Club (The) – Championship Course (Kintyre)
Muirfield (Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers)
Nairn Golf Club (The) – The Championship Course
North Berwick Golf Club (The) – The West Links
Notts Golf Club (Hollinwell)
Old Head Golf Links
Parkstone Golf Club
Pennard Golf Club
Portmarnock Golf Club
Portstewart Golf Club – The Strand
Prestwick Golf Club (Old Prestwick)
Rosapenna Hotel and Golf Resort – Sandy Hills Links
Royal Aberdeen Golf Club – Balgownie Course
Royal Birkdale Golf Club
Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club (Deal)
Royal County Down Golf Club (The) – Championship Links (Newcastle)
Royal Dornoch Golf Club – Championship
Royal Liverpool Golf Club (Hoylake)
Royal Lytham & St Anne’s Golf Club
Royal Porthcawl Golf Club
Royal Portrush Golf Club – Dunluce Links
Royal St David’s Golf Club (Harlech)
Royal St George’s Golf Club (Sandwich)
Royal Troon Golf Club – Old Course
Royal West Norfolk Golf Club (Brancaster)
Rye Golf Club – Old
Saunton Golf Club East
Silloth-on-Solway Golf Club
Southport & Ainsdale (S&A) Golf Club
St Andrews Links – The Castle Course
St Andrews Links – The New Course
St Andrews Links – Old Course
St Enodoc Golf Club – Church Course
St George’s Hill Golf Club – The Red 9 The Blue 9
Sunningdale Golf Club – New Course
Sunningdale Golf Club – Old Course
Swinley Forest Golf Club
Tralee Golf Club
Trump International Scotland
Trump International Golf Links – Doonbeg
Trump Turnberry – Ailsa Championship Course
Walton Heath – Old Course
Waterville Golf Links
West Lancashire Golf Club (The) (West Lancs)
West Sussex Golf Club (Pulborough)
Western Gailes Golf Club
Woking Golf Club
Woodhall Spa – Hotchkin Course
Worplesdon Golf Club

Golf Course Rankings Evaluated Conclusion

Top 100 Golf Course rankings are subjective and we applaud all of the above for publishing their criteria for evaluating a Top 100 Golf Course. While the list here is not exhaustive, it does give you a basis for ranking the rankings...

What We Said in 2020

We also are keen to watch what happens for Ardfin, JCB, Princes, St Patricks LinksThe Addington. We also see some uber-exclusive clubs on the list and wonder why Beaverbrook Golf Course has escaped notice?

What We Have Seen So Far in 2021

Princes made the Consensus List for 2021. Dumbarnie will surely follow in due course. Ardfin, Beaverbrook & JCB never will due to the ranking criteria. Beaverbrook is ever excluded.

What We Predict For 2022

The Addington is still missing from Golf Monthly and Top 100 Golf Courses but that will change in due course. Tom Doak's St Patricks will be included in the 2022 Top 100 Ranks - it's just a matter of how high.



The JCB Golf & Country Club is an up and coming entry to the Top 100 Golf Course rankings.