Golfweek's Best 2023: Top 50 classic courses in Great Britain and Ireland

Royal County Down in Northern Ireland (David Cannon/Getty Images)

Welcome to Golfweek’s Best 2023 rankings of the Top 50 classic courses in Great Britain and Ireland – built before 1960 – as determined by Golfweek’s Best raters.

The members of our course-ratings panel continually evaluate courses and rate them based on our 10 criteria. They also file a single, overall rating on each course. Those overall ratings on each course are averaged to produce a final rating for each course. Then each layout is ranked against others in Great Britain and Ireland to produce the final rankings.

Listed with each course below is its average ranking, location, designers and year opened.

*New to or returning to list

Other popular Golfweek’s Best lists include:

Nos. 1-10


Royal Dornoch Golf Club in Scotland (Jason Lusk/Golfweek)

1. Royal County Down (Championship) 8.95
Newcastle, Northern Ireland; George L. Baillie, Old Tom Morris, George Combe, Harry S. Colt, Donald Steel (1889)

2. St. Andrews Old Course 8.73
St. Andrews, Scotland; Unknown first designer, Old Tom Morris (Unknown)

3. Royal Dornoch (Championship) 8.67
Dornoch, Scotland; Old Tom Morris, John Sutherland, George Duncan (1877)

4. Muirfield 8.64
Gullane, Scotland; Old Tom Morris (1892)

5. Royal Portrush (Dunluce) 8.54
Portrush, Northern Ireland; Harry S. Colt, Martin Ebert (1929)

6. Sunningdale (Old) 8.37
Sunningdale, England; Willie Park Jr., Harry S. Colt (1901)

7. Ballybunion (Old) 8.34
Ballybunion, Ireland; Lionel Hewson, Tom Simpson (1893)

8. Trump Turnberry Resort (Ailsa) 8.30
Turnberry, Scotland; Willie Fernie, Mackenzie Ross, Martin Ebert, Tom MacKenzie (1901)

9. Royal St. George’s 8.21
Sandwich, England; Laidlaw Purves (1887)

10. North Berwick Golf Club (West Links) 8.04
North Berwick, Scotland; David Strath, Ben Sayers (1832)

Nos. 11-20

Carnoustie’s Championship Course in Scotland (David Cannon/Getty Images)

11. Royal Birkdale 7.98
Southport, England; George Lowe, F.G. Hawtree, J.H. Taylor (1897)

12. Swinley Forest 7.94
Ascot, England; Harry S. Colt (1909)

13. Lahinch (Old) 7.92
Lahinch, Ireland; Old Tom Morris, Charles Gibson, Alister MacKenzie, Martin Hawtree (1894)

14. Carnoustie (Championship) 7.90
Carnoustie, Scotland; Robert Chambers, Allan Robertson, Old Tom Morris, James Braid (1830s)

15. Royal Porthcawl 7.76
Porthcawl, Wales; Ramsay Hunter, J. Simpson (1895)

16. Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin) 7.73
Woodhall Spa, England; Harry Vardon, J.H.Taylor, Harry S. Colt, Stafford Vere Hotchkin, Tom Doak (1905)

17. Sunningdale (New) 7.72
Sunningdale, England; Harry S. Colt, John Morrison (1923)

18. Ganton 7.71
Scarborough, England; Harry Vardon, Ted Ray, James Braid, J.H. Taylor, Harry S. Colt (1891)

19. Royal Lytham & St. Annes 7.69
Lytham St. Annes, England; George Lowe, Harry S. Colt, Herbert Fowler, Tom Simpson, C.K. Cotton (1897)

20. St. George’s Hill 7.68
Weybridge, England; Harry S. Colt (1913)

Nos. 21-30

Cruden Bay in Scotland (Jason Lusk/Golfweek)

21. Cruden Bay 7.65
Cruden Bay, Scotland; Old Tom Morris, Archie Simpson, Tom Simpson, Herbert Fowler (1899)

22. Rye 7.60
Rye, England; Harry S. Colt, Tom Simpson, Guy Campbell (1894)

23. Royal Troon (Old) 7.57
Troon, Scotland; George Strath, Willie Fernie, James Braid (1878)

T24. Royal Aberdeen (Balgownie) 7.48
Bridge of Don, Scotland; Archie Simpson, Robert Simpson, James Braid (1888)

T24. St. Enodoc (Church) 7.48
Wadebridge, England; James Braid (1907)

26. Alwoodley 7.46
Leeds, England; Alister MacKenzie (1907)

27. Portmarnock (Old) 7.45
Dublin, Ireland; Mungo Park, W.C. Pickeman (1894)

28. Walton Heath (Old) 7.42
Tadworth, England; Herbert Fowler (1903)

29. Royal Cinque Ports 7.41
Deal, England; Henry Hunter, James Braid, Guy Campbell (1892)

30. Machrihanish 7.39
Machrihanish, Scotland; Old Tom Morris, J.H. Taylor, Guy Campbell (1876)

Nos. 31-40

Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) in England (Getty Images)

31. Prestwick 7.21
Prestwick, Scotland; Old Tom Morris (1851)

32. Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) 7.18
Hoylake, England; Robert Chambers, George Morris, Harry S. Colt, Donald Steel (1869)

T33. Royal West Norfolk 7.17
Brancaster, England; Holcombe Ingleby (1892)

T33. Notts (Hollinwell) 7.17
Kirkby in Ashfield, England; Willie Park Jr., J.H. Taylor, Tom Williamson (1901)

35. Western Gailes 7.16
Irvine, Scotland; Fred Morris, F.G. Hawtree (1898)

36. Wentworth (West) 7.15
Virginia Water, England; Harry S. Colt (1924)

37. Gleneagles (King’s) 7.10
Auchterarder, Scotland; James Braid (1919)

38. Wallasey 7.09
Wallasey, England; Old Tom Morris, James Braid, F.G. Hawtree, J.H. Taylor, Donald Steele (1891)

39. Royal Worlington & Newmarket 7.07
Bury St. Edmunds, England; Tom Dunn, Harry S. Colt (1893)

40. West Sussex 7.05
Pulborough, England; Guy Campbell, Cecil K. Hutchison (1931)

Nos. 41-50

Portstewart’s Strand Course in Northern Ireland (Courtesy of North & West Coast Links Golf Ireland)

41. Silloth on Solway 6.97
Silloth, England; David Grant, Alister MacKenzie, Willie Park Jr. (1892)

42. Portstewart (Strand) 6.96
Portstewart, Northern Ireland; A.G. Gow, Willie Park Jr., Des Griffin (1907)

T43. Gullane (No. 1) 6.93
Gullane, Scotland; Unknown (1884)

T43. Woking 6.93
Woking, England; Tom Dunn, John Low, Stuart Paton (1893)

45. Burnham & Berrow 6.92
Burnham on Sea, England; Charles Gibson, Herbert Fowler, Harry S. Colt, Martin Ebert (1891)

46. Formby 6.89
Formby, England; Willie Park Jr., James Braid, Harry S. Colt, Donald Steel (1884)

T47. The Island Golf Club 6.87
Donabate, Ireland; Fred Hawtree, Eddie Hackett (1890)

T47. Walton Heath (New) 6.87
Tadworth, England; Herbert Fowler (1907)

T49. County Louth (Baltray) 6.83
Baltray, Ireland; Tom Simpson (1892)

T49. Wentworth (East) 6.83
Virginia Water, England; Harry S. Colt (1924)

More Architecture