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Ireland’s reputation as a top global golf destination has been confirmed by a new poll which ranks eight of our golf courses in the top 100 in the world outside America – including the No 1 course in the world, Royal County Down.
Golf Digest magazine - one of the most popular and widely read sports titles in the United States - asked its 6.5 million readers to name their favourite golfing venues around the world and Ireland came out with top marks. Royal County Down beat off competition from some of the game's most iconic venues including St Andrews' Old Course, Turnberry and Valderrama, to be named top in Golf Digest's "100 Best Courses Outside the US ". Portmarnock came in close behind, at number 12 in the poll, just one place ahead of Royal Portrush, host of this month's much-anticipated Irish Open.
Kerry claimed an impressive hat-trick with Waterville (23rd), Ballybunion (26th) and Tralee (82nd), all featuring in the top 100. And Lahinch in Co Clare, a long-term favourite among golf visitors to Ireland, also clinched a placed in the table, coming in 41st position, as did The European Club in Co Wicklow, which finished 88th in the poll.
Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said: "We know that the island of Ireland boasts some of the best golf courses in the world and, together with our golf industry partners, we have been working hard to spread that message around the world. We are undertaking a busy golf promotional programme throughout 2012 to showcase our golf, which includes capitalising on the success of our major golf champions as ambassadors for the island of Ireland. This month's Irish Open at Royal Portrush is another wonderful opportunity to put our golf in the international spotlight and we are leveraging the potential of this prestigious sporting event. Our message is that the island of Ireland offers golfers the complete package - with top courses, stunning scenery and the warmest of welcomes."