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Danny Law: Scotland’s top-100 course list is something we can agree to disagree on

Stonehaven Golf Club.

Stonehaven Golf Club. (submitted)

The annual list of Scotland’s top-100 courses compiled by Golf World and Today’s Golfer is guaranteed to cause plenty of debate.

The 13-strong panel who picked the “definitive” list included three well-travelled golfers who have played every course in Scotland.

Courses were ranked out of 100 on the basis of their design, setting, memorability, playability, consistency and presentation.

But compiling the list must be an unenviable and thankless task as every passionate golfer who reads it will feel their favoured course should be closer to the top of the pecking order. The Old Course at St Andrews was rated number one in Scotland again and surely no one can question that selection.

Actually, plenty of golfers will disagree, but it goes without saying any overseas visitor making a pilgrimage to the Home of Golf would want to tick the Old Course off their list.

It is no surprise to see the north of Scotland well represented and making up more than a quarter of the top 100. We are blessed with an abundance of top quality golfing options on our doorstep.

The Old Course at St Andrews topped the list.

Royal Dornoch is rated fourth behind the Old Course, Turnberry (Ailsa) and Muirfield, but I’ve read plenty of comments from golfers online who feel the Highland links should be in the top three.

Cruden Bay moved up two spots to eighth – one place ahead of Trump Aberdeen – with Skibo Castle (12), Castle Stuart (16) and Royal Aberdeen (17) also making the top 20.

The European Tour’s 2020 Race to Dubai winner Lee Westwood took to Twitter to make his feelings known that Nairn should be higher than 25th.

It was pleasing to see Stonehaven make its first entry into the top 100 at 90. It’s a course I’ve often thought is overlooked, but provides a unique challenge in a dramatic clifftop setting.

From trying to navigate Hitler’s Bunker – a crater caused by a bomb dropped by a German aircraft in 1940 – on the first hole, golfers are presented with a series of quirky and memorable holes.

It’s a course that can split opinion, but it’s very enjoyable and well worth a visit if you’ve never sampled it before.

The course I’ve added to my list to sample in the future was voted one place behind Stonehaven and it is also another new entry in the top 100.

Covesea Links, which sits on the coast between Lossiemouth and Hopeman, is a nine-holer that boasts stunning views and it sounds like the £10 green fee is tremendous value.

The introduction of tougher quarantine rules means it looks like 2021 is going to be another challenging year for clubs who focus and rely primarily on overseas visitors.

But the coronavirus pandemic has sparked a participation boom for golf clubs across the United Kingdom.

In July last year, sales of golf equipment were the highest on record, while demand for tee times has been unprecedented at many courses.

The ease of social distancing and the outdoor environment has meant golf is a very safe sport to play in the current circumstances.

There will be many amateur sportsmen and women who have turned to golf as a result of their Saturday afternoon football or rugby matches being postponed.

And those golf clubs included in the top 100 will hope to benefit from that later in the year when – hopefully – the number of visitors can increase.

But as all golfers know, you don’t need to play a top-100 course to enjoy a great round of golf provided you are in the right company.

And, as lockdown continues, that’s certain to be something we will cherish even more in the future.

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