Royal Portrush has been voted the No 1 links course in Ireland in a major new poll conducted by Golfspin magazine.
As work continues on the Dunluce links in preparation for the 2019 Open Championship a survey of leading Irish professionals, amateurs and media representatives judged the course ahead of Royal County Down and Portmarnock.
The poll was carried out in advance of the R & A announcement that the Open was returning to the North Coast for the first time since 1951.
Mount Juliet was voted the best parkland course.
Panelists were asked to nominate, in order of preference, the 15 courses in both categories which impressed and delighted them the most. Special emphasis was placed on design, presentation, location, challenge and the personal enjoyment factor.
Portrush with 24 first preference votes and 21 second preference votes, was a clear winner ahead of Portmarnock, (2nd), Royal Co Down (3rd), Waterville (4th), Lahinch (5th) and Ballybunion Old (6th)
Portstewart (13th), Castlerock (24th) and Ardglass (29th) were among other Northern Ireland links courses to make the top 30. Malone (8th), Lough Erne (10th) Belvoir Park (17th) were rated inside the top 30 parkland courses.
Royal Portrush captain, Sir Richard McLaughlin said he was delighted with the result of the poll.
He added: “We are particularly proud of the fact that Backspin magazine carried out its poll using a panel of the true cognoscenti of golf in this country. Reading the names of those making up the jury is akin to finding the Who’s Who of Irish golf.
“To be deemed best by one’s peers is very satisfying and hopefully reflects the outstanding work being done by the staff to maintain the course at the high levels demonstrated to so many during the Irish Open and since.
“With the arrival in late 2014 of another outstanding course superintendent and the completion of the reconstruction work in preparation for The Open in 2019 we shall work harder than ever to maintain the position accorded to us by the panel.”