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Ulster’s Royal pair in the elite of courses

Royal County Down and Royal Portrush are the top two rated Irish courses in a new list of the world’s best layouts by Golf World magazine.

The Co Down course comes in at number six while Portrush is 18th in the rankings, the first time the respected magazine has compiled a list of this type.

It was compiled by asking players, designers and other notables from the game to nominate their favourite courses.

Padraig Harrington was one to be consulted — and Royal Portrush was his nomination, adding that the 12th was his favourite hole in the world.

Phil Mickleson went for St Andrews (Old), as did Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelmann and Geoff Ogilvy, while Tiger Woods chose Augusta, which finished top of the pile overall.

In total nine Irish courses were included,which for an island of this size, is a staggering statistic. Think about it: almost 10% of the top 100 of an estimated 35,000 golf courses worldwide are in Ireland.

We also have 53 of the world's 151 links courses in this country, which is also another part of our national golfing treasure. Come hither, all ye golfers from foreign parts and play in the Emerald Isle!

It's fascinating that in all these polls carried out, particularly by long-established golf magazines, the oldest designs and traditional venues have held their own.

The other Irish courses to make the list were: Waterville at number 25, Ballybunion, at number 37, Old Course at Portmarnock at number 42, The European Club at number 43, County Louth at number 68, Lahinch at number 73, and Doonbeg just sneaking in at number 99.

Belfast Telegraph