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Mark_Rowlinson

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Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« on: March 16, 2004, 02:48:30 PM »
Spurred on by the list of 45 top US courses since 1959 I thought I'd have a go at a Great Britain and Ireland list as we have had a few decent courses withtin living memory.  It's not in any sort of order of ascendency, just the order they came into my mind, and I have to say I began to wilt quite early on.  Is that the best we can do?   I hope it provokes a little response - don't spare the dagger just because I now know who you really are! - and, even better, I hope it provokes someone to attempt the same thing for continental Europe, Australia or South Africa.

1. Turnberry (Ailsa)
2. Southerness
3. Kingsbarns
4. Prince's
5. Felixstowe Ferry
6. Chart Hills
7. The Wisley
8. Woburn (Duke's)
9. The Buckinghamshire
10.Waterville
11.Tralee
12.Ballyliffin (Glashedy)
13.Connemara
14.Ballybunion (Cashen)
15.Carnegie Club
16.Carne
17.European
18.Powerscourt
19.St Mellion
20.Lanhydrock
21.The Wynyard
22.London Club (Heritage)
23.East Sussex National
24.Gleneagles PGA
25.The Belfry
26.Bowood
27.Woburn Marquess
28.Forest of Arden
29.Hanbury Manor
30.Wirral Ladies'
31.Slaley Hall (Hunting)
32.Celtic Manor (Wentwood Hills)
33.Crail (Craighead)
34.St.Andrews Duke's
35.Donegal
36.Old Head
37.Portmarnock Links Hotel
38.Turnberry (Kintyre)
39.K-Club
40.Mount Juliet
41.Druid's Glen
42.Newmachar
43.Portal
44.John O'Gaunt
45.Mill Ride
46.Bearwood Lakes
47.South Winchester
48.Brocket Hall (Palmerston?)
49.Doonbeg
50.Glasson


I'm sure to have forgotten some essential courses and I was really struggling at times so The Belfry is there to raise the blood pressure a bit.  Help me, please, to find 50 post-war British courses worthy of inclusion in the list!

Mark.

mike_malone

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Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2004, 02:53:54 PM »
 None of the Irish courses are as good as their nearby older cousins
AKA Mayday

Mark_Rowlinson

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Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2004, 03:18:49 PM »
Mike,

I'm sure that's the case but, as an exercise in trying to find the good things we have around us, I don't want to leave any stone unturned.  I have to say that it was a pretty dispiriting exercise!

Mark.

ForkaB

Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2004, 03:31:49 PM »
Mark

How about:

Loch Lomond
St. Andrews Bay (Torrance and Devlin)
Roxburghe
Southern Gailes

And, if you are gong to include major renovations (a la Kintyre):

Portsalon


mike_malone

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Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2004, 03:32:13 PM »
 Mark
 I certainly appreciate your effort in compiling this list.What surprised me was that County Louth,Royal   Portrush,Lahinch,Portmarnock,Ballybunion--all i have played several times are significantly better than any Irish course on that list.Courses like Island and Portstewart are updates of older courses that compete favorably with the list.
      I have not played County Sligo yet.I played on that list-European,glashedy,waterville,and cashen
AKA Mayday

Mike_Sweeney

Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2004, 05:55:59 PM »
Mark,

I think Enniscrone would qualify as it was a basic 9 hole course until Eddie Hackett came in 1974 and did a full 18, with Steel doing a subsequent revision of Hackett's 18. While I have not played them, I would think that Enniscrone would rank above :

39.K-Club
40.Mount Juliet
41.Druid's Glen

Dan Grossman

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Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2004, 11:27:56 PM »
I haven't played a ton of these courses, but I am a bit surprised that Adare Manor isn't on the list.  While I wasn't a huge fan, it was fairly charming.

Of the ones I have played, I really didn't like Kingsbarns very well.  It just did not work for me.  I know a lot of folks on the site love the course, but I got very tired of the (overly)contoured greens and I thought the course didn't transition very well between the links on the north side of the property, to the treed areas and back to the links on the south side of the property.  Courses like Formby, Hillside and Carnoustie handle this transition much better, IMO.

I did really like Gil Hanse's Craighead course, although I thought it was VERY difficult.  But it was lots of fun and I would love to do a day of 36 there between that and the Balcomie links.  (Did anyone see the article in Links?)

I would rank Crail above Carniege Club.  I was not a huge fan of the course and I didn't think the routing was very tight for a walking course.  I was especially irritated at hole #14, which was a 200yd hole that required you to (essentially) walk back to the tee when you are finished with the hole.

I would put Loch Lomond ahead of all the courses, although I probably wouldn't choose to play it again.  I like to stick to links courses when I fly across the pond!   ;) ;D
« Last Edit: March 16, 2004, 11:29:54 PM by Dan Grossman »

Gerry B

Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2004, 11:59:23 PM »
when was cape cornwall built - near land's end on the southeast corner of the uk?

Jack_Marr

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Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2004, 03:47:30 AM »
Yeah, I think Enniscrone should be on it. It is deffinately better than Donegal, and several others on the list. That's just my opinoin, though.

I would also include Headfort New. There are two courses in Powerscourt now. The first one, I think you GCAers would like, as the greens are very interesting. Maybe both should make the list. And the O'Meara course in Carton House is supposed to be very good - I haven't heard ab0ut the Montgommery one yet.

Of course, the question is, which ones do you displace?

Oh and beannachtai la Feile Padraig! Or happy St. Paddy's Day.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2004, 03:55:49 AM by Jack_Marr »
John Marr(inan)

Andy Levett

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Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2004, 06:10:48 AM »
It's funny not to see Moor Allerton on the list - when it opened to huge acclaim  I remember pundits saying that was the way we should be going in the UK - replacing our old-fashioned ground game courses with  modern American-style layouts that eliminated the element of chance. (In Moor Allerton's case the membership left their MacKenzie original for 27 holes by Robert Trent Jones Snr).
So has it fallen so far it doesn't even make the 50? I've never been but have signed up for an open there this summer so I'm no longer  the only person on this board who has never played a RTJ course. :o




Marc Haring

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Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2004, 06:52:51 AM »
Great list Mark
The Edinburgh at Wentworth perhaps should be there?

Paul_Turner

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Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2004, 08:48:14 AM »
Mark

I think the Duchess at Woburn is easily good enough.

Anyone played those really remote Eddie Hackett links, called (I think) St Patricks and St Margerets?  They look interesting.

Queenswood designed by Bandon's David Kidd?



can't get to heaven with a three chord song

Mark_Rowlinson

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Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2004, 10:11:02 AM »
Many thanks for your replies.   The list was intended for serious criticism - I'll wait a while longer for a few more opinions before trying to refine it.

Scotland:

How could I have forgotten about Loch Lomond!  

Again, I'd forgotten about the St Andrews Bay courses.

Southern Gailes is too new for me to know anything about it (though I'll try to look in when I'm a Troon at the end of the month).  

I didn't think much of the Roxburghe, but I'm happy to see it there if someone can make a plausible case for it.

Ireland:

I'd happily put in Portsalon and Enniscrone.

Don't know anything about St Patrick's (and it's his day, too).  

St Margaret's can't be too remote - it's close to Dublin Airport.  

Do you mean Adare Manor or the Adare Manor Hotel?  As I understand it, Adare Manor is the 1900 course of Ben Sayers and (later) Eddie Hackett but is usually confused with the RTJ course at the Adare Manor Hotel.  I have a feeling they even got into a legal wrangle when the hotel tried to pinch the club's name.  RTJ described his 18th as 'the finest finishing hole in world golf.'

With two Carton Courses, another at Powerscourt plus other Irish courses such as Headfort, many new courses by Christie O'Connor, Des Smyth and Philip Walton, would someone who knows Ireland better than I like to try to assemble the Irish courses into a league table????? Dangerous territory!

England:

I don't know anything about Queenwood yet - they refused to give me any information when I tried to contact them for the Times Guide.  

I'd go along with the Duchess at Woburn.  

I found Moor Allerton bland (though I'd completely forgotten about it when compiling the list).  I toyed with putting in Stockley Park near London (another RTJ course) which I rate quite highly - it makes you think on every shot and is a wonderful resource in the midst of a large factory estate.  

I'm not a great fan of the Edinburgh at Wentworth - I found it very uneven, some fine holes and some real makeshift stuff.  I know they had an awful lot of restrictions when they built it (a friend of mine was a consultant environmentalist on it).  Again, prove me wrong and I'd happily knock out something else.

Keep up the criticism - I am already hopeful of a much more fulfilling list.

Mark_Rowlinson

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Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2004, 10:12:14 AM »
I suppose one could consider St Andrews Jubilee - how much of a makeover did it get (Donald Steel, wasn't it?)

Jonathan Davison

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Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2004, 12:22:53 PM »
what about Linden Hall in Northumberland, I would rate it above Wynyard and Slaley Hall

Matt_Ward

Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2004, 12:30:03 PM »
Mark:

I saw Doonbeg at #49 and have to wonder if you've been sipping a bit too much since it is St. Patrick's Day! I played the course last year and although I will frankly admit I don't have the details on the new courses like you do I can't see how Doonbeg can be thaaaaaaaaaaaat low.

I also played Celtic Manor (Wentwood Hills) and it is simply bloody awlful. It's nothing more than an American course shipped over to the Welsh countryside.

The European Club was one layout I did play during my last trip across the pond and I don't see what all the fuss is about. It surely doesn't compare to the older courses and I'd take Doonbeg over it quite quickly.

One last question -- you don't list Oxfordshire (Rees Jones). How does that layout compare -- I've not played it but friends of mine were mixed on it?

Dan Grossman

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Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2004, 01:09:12 PM »
Mark - I was speaking about the RTJ course at Adare Manor Hotel.  I didn't realize that there were two.

Mark_Rowlinson

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Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2004, 02:41:11 PM »
Dan, Matt, Johnny,

Interested to hear about Linden Hall - I'll be going that way soonish so I'll pop my head in.

Doonbeg is only at #49 because they're not in any particular order of merit, just the order they came into my head.  As I said, it is just a list to be shot down, torn apart and then reassembled, but if you leave the list blank it's so much more long-winded a process.  I'm sure Doonbeg would finish up much, much higher in the list.  But first we'll delete a number of inadequate courses and then add in all these serious suggestions.

I didn't include the Oxfordshire because I thought it a great waste of a perfectly decent corn field.  It's vulgar.  If you think Wentwood Hills ghastly you'll think even worse thoughts about the Oxfordshire.  I know I included it in my Globetrotter Guide to England and Wales, but that is not an architectural guide book.  I need to cater for a wide variety of tastes amongst potential readers.

I'm interested in what you say about Celtic Manor because, of course, it is an American course - that is what they wanted, as with Loch Lomond, Oxfordshire, Wisley etc and many of the Irish layouts.  Just because they are in an American style, does that necessarily make them unworthy of consideration?  They still have enormous fascination for the bulk of competitive golf club members because that is what they found when they winter holidayed in Spain or Portugal, Florida or the Carolinas and now they can get much the same thing (but not the climate) at home.  You'd be amazed how many members of good links courses in North Wales (including my own, Conwy) make the pilgrimage to Wentwood Hills and come home raving about it and why can't we have something like it nearer to home.  That they are competitive golfers doesn't mean that they are good judges of architecture - a great many really active club golfers can't stand links courses - they look for other attributes.  But this is an architecture site, and I'm sure your views will win the day.  Just keep the arguments going a little longer....

Bob_Huntley

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Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2004, 03:10:26 PM »

  You'd be amazed how many members of good links courses in North Wales (including my own, Conwy) make the pilgrimage to Wentwood Hills and come home raving about it and why can't we have something like it nearer to home.  That they are competitive golfers doesn't mean that they are good judges of architecture - a great many really active club golfers can't stand links courses - they look for other attributes.  But this is an architecture site, and I'm sure your views will win the day.  Just keep the arguments going a little longer....


I have spoken to many Brits that think golf in Florida is Nirvana and praise some really awful courses. Personally I think the strong sun fries the brain.

Matt_Ward

Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2004, 03:20:14 PM »
Mark:

I had the pleasure in coming to Wales on a golf media visit and after one plays Royal Porthcawl, Pennard and Royal St. David's, to name just three, the "opportunity" to play Wentwood Hills at Celtic Manor is indeed a major league drop-off in quality. Now, I am well aware Celtic Manor is inland and it was designed specifically to be an "American" style course but the green shapes are simply large and unimaginative. The bunkering style is akin to a large scooper just taking holes out of the ground without any real connection to what golf shots are supposed to be about. Just dreadful stuff -- one can only hope the proposed changes for the 2010 Ryder Cup will be beyond what's there now.

Thanks for your comments on Oxfordshire -- I have not played it but those who have disliked it echo your comments.

P.S. I echo Bob's last comment -- send those who love Celtic Manor to Florida and they'll find many other great architectural wonders there too! ::)

Paul_Turner

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Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #20 on: March 18, 2004, 02:34:32 PM »
Matt

The Oxfordshire is like Atlantic but uglier.   It's horrible, a true "minger" of a course, as we'd say back in Blighty.

Mark

I liked the pics I've seen of Lanhydrock.  You played there?  Is it worth missing a round at a Cornish/Devonshire links for?

Have you played Steel's Palmerston course at Brocket Hall?  My old man loved it...good terrain he reckoned.
can't get to heaven with a three chord song

Marc Haring

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Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #21 on: March 19, 2004, 03:29:13 AM »
I placed a review of Wentwood Hills in the uk golf guide site a couple of years back and described it as a thoroughly artificial Americanised slog. May have been a little harsh but I seem to remember leaving a drive on #10 a fraction right only to see it be thrown further right off some mound, bounce on the ludicrously placed buggy path and disappear into the sea of uncut ryegrass never to be found again and that was on one of the better holes. It was perhaps significant that at last years Welsh Open Ian Woosnam, Sam Torrance and Colin Montgomery all failed to make the cut. It is a painful walk round and if you happen to be something other than a supreme specimen of male athleticism then the course, especially that mountain climb on the last few holes, can be a bit of a chore. I think the reason why so many extol its virtues are because it is so different to anything else in the area and so a single visit can have a certain novelty value. I wonder how many would appreciate it so much if forced to play it for the rest of their lives and that could be the cause of one or two of that ilk such as East Sussex National, The London Club and The Oxfordshire, all ending up as financial catastrophes.

Mark, you invited argument on the Edinburgh at Wentworth. Well I have played it a few times and have always enjoyed the experience. I appreciate that the environmentally forced tight fairways can limit strategic options but I would argue that thought is still required throughout the course courtesy of the doglegs and the relative constraint on length. So often one has to decide whether to launch one over the trees, or to place to the corner or to turn it around with a controlled fade or draw and I love that in a course. Perhaps I could best illustrate my thinking by going back to 1999 and that Seniors Tour event they hold each year. It was won on that occasion by Neil Coles, a man I had the pleasure of caddying for at Stoke Park. He was probably just about the best controller of a ball there has ever been and it was a delight to see him manoeuvre his way around those doglegs and basically outwit the course through control and thought. He was never going to power his way round as he was a couple of months short of his 65th birthday but he still claimed the title with a total of 10 under par. And I wonder how many courses would have given him that opportunity. Certainly if they had played that tournament at Celtic Manor he would have been going home on day 2.

Anyway, back to that great list. Saunton West? It was rebuilt in the 70ís having been lost in the war.    

Mark_Rowlinson

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Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #22 on: March 19, 2004, 04:59:28 AM »
Paul, yes, I've played Lanhydrock but it's not worth missing West Cornwall for, assuming you're also doing Trevose, St Enodoc, Perranporth and Mullion.  There are several rather dull holes early on.  I put Palmerston in the original list and would happily leave it there if your father likes it!

Marc, it must have been fascinating watching Coles negotiate the Edinburgh.  But is it good that it is so dictated by the trees - does it make it one-dimensional strategy?  I think it was the fact that it had to be fitted in in the last remaining pockets of land that came through to me as a feeling, that it was makeshift in some way (and was also probably coloured by the fact that I was a guest of the then Secretary and I was playing like a total beginner - I was a disgrace!)

Yes, let's have Saunton West - again I'd forgotten about it.

Marc Haring

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Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #23 on: March 19, 2004, 05:05:15 AM »
Yes the first and last 2 holes were fitted into the practice range and short course, and to that extent I agree they are out of character.
I suppose what you mention about chopping it round can influenece our opinions so much. Was that the great Doyle Davidson (DD) you were playing with? Enough to destroy anyones game.

James Edwards

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Re:Top 50 British Isles courses since 1945
« Reply #24 on: March 19, 2004, 09:07:30 AM »
.......The Grove - Kyle Philips........
@EDI__ADI

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