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 suggest who may prefer which ranking.

Top 100 Golf Courses .com Rank

A digital powerhouse, the Top 100 Golf Course website is a go-to resource in the modern age. What are they looking for? A list or rank that rewards courses you’d like to play time and again. A club’s exclusivity, clubhouse amenities and level of service are not factored in. Just the course is ranked and not the experience or weather.

Top 100 Golf Courses .com Rank Criteria

  • Architecture (Routing, Green Complexes, and Use of Landscape)
  • Strategic Challenge (Cerebral Golf with Options, Risk & Reward)
  • Variety (Course exercises the broadest range of skills.)
  • Consistency (Pedigree throughout the round with merit, ebb and flow.)
  • Condition & Management (Presentation of mowing lines etc. Grass, gorse and tree management.)

Top 100 Golf Courses .com Ranking Evaluation 

A staple of the digital golf landscape, the ratings use trusted expert opinions from golfers who have played extensively in their country or territory. Rankings are usually done biennially. They consider the rankings to be honest, informed, and genuine. With a renewed emphasis on golf course architecture and focusing on golf, the market leader is my preferred choice.

Top 100 Golf Course Ranking Is Best…

For an informed and calculated approach to ranks. There isn’t an overly prescriptive methodology but they rely on well-educated, considered and well-travelled golfers for insight.

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 that 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 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.

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 (Inc. Clubhouse & Halfway House)
  • 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 as 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 or 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. This would explain the exclusion of Queenwood, Beaverbrook, JCB & Loch Lomond.

Golf Monthly Top 100 Ranking Is Best…

If the overall golf experience is as important to you as the golf itself. You probably like The Masters and Augusta National more than The Open and the Open Rota Venues.

Today’s Golfer/ Golf World Top 100 Rank

Golf World is Today’s Golfer ranking label. Chris Bertrum has one of the most enviable and unenviable jobs in golf. Since taking over, the rank has been refined and massive shifts in rankings seen. The openness and candour are to be applauded. The majority of the panel are mid-handicap golfers. There are a couple of single-digit golfers and a single-plus handicapper.

Today’s Golfer/ Golf World Rank Criteria

  • 40% – Design (Landscape 20%, Greens 10%, Routing 10%)
  • 15% – Setting & Atmosphere
  • 15% – Memorability
  • 10% – Playability (Is it tough or unfair?)
  • 10% – Consistency
  • 10% – Presentation

Today’s Golfer/ Golf World Ranking Evaluation 

Let’s start with the positives – off-course facilities, customer service, and tournament pedigree are not factored into the rank. There is an attempt to evaluate and grade architectural merit as the panel is asked to reflect upon routing, green complexes, and strategy.

It is worth mentioning that a large proportion of the weight is given to landscape design, setting, atmosphere, and presentation. A whopping 45% is directly linked to these features.

Today’s Golfer/ Golf World Ranking Is Best…

For the average golfer looking for a fair rank. Overall, it is pretty to agree with most of the ranking with nothing egregious standing out. From 75 onwards, there are probably 50 clubs that are in with a legitimate chance.

Consensus Top 100 List

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

Adare Manor
Ballybunion Old
Ballyliffin Glashedy
Berkshire Blue
Berkshire Red
Burnham & Berrow
Castle Stuart
County Louth
County Sligo
Cruden Bay
Gleneagles Kings
Gleneagles Queens
Gullane 1
Hankley Common
North Berwick
Notts Hollinwell
Old Head
Portstewart Strand
Rosapenna – Sandy Hills
Royal Aberdeen
Royal Birkdale
Royal Cinque Ports
Royal County Down
Royal Dornoch
Royal Liverpool
Royal Lytham St Annes
Royal Porthcawl
Royal Portrush Dunluce
Royal St Davids
Royal St Georges 
Royal Troon
Royal West Norfolk
Saunton East
Silloth on Solway
Southport & Ainsdale (S&A)
St Andrews New
St Andrews Old
St Enodoc
St Georges Hill
Sunningdale New
Sunningdale Old
Swinley Forest
The European
The Island
The Machrie
Trump International – Scotland
Trump Ireland Doonbeg
Trump Turnberry Ailsa
Walton Heath Old
West Hill
West Lancs
West Sussex
Western Gailes
Woodhall Spa Hotchkin

Golf Course Formerly on at Least One Rank

Wentworth East
Royal Ashdown Forest
Castletown Golf Links
The Belfry Brabazon
Druids Glen
Remedy Oak
Lough Erne
Close House Lee Westwood Colt

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 Predict For 2024

The Addington will continue to rise. The second course at Castle Stuart will open to rave reviews. Tom Doak’s St Patrick’s will continue to rise both in the world ranks and in the GB&I. Top 100 Golf Course rankings will be as popular as ever.

What We Would Like to See

A review of Golf Monthly’s Rank. It would appear Golf Monthly is lagging concerning the current tastes in golf course design and presentation. There is a 22% discrepancy between their rank and everyone else… If you like parkland golf at posh resorts, Golf Monthly is a decent bet for you…


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

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