Irish golf course named greatest in the world for 2015

Royal County Down beat impressive competition

Royal County Down, Darren Clarke, Irish Open

Darren Clarke on the 4th tee box at Royal County Down ©INPHO/Presseye/Andrew Paton

Royal County Down has been named as the best golf course on the planet.

That's according to the annual rankings of Golf Digest magazine.

The Northern Irish course beat competition from second placed Augusta, home of the Masters, and Pine Valley in New Jersey which placed third.

Explaining its decision, the magazine highlighted that proximity to the sea was a crucial factor in this year's placings and had this to say about Royal County Down, which held the 2015 Irish Open: "There is no lovelier place in golf than our new No. 1. Its design is attributed to Old Tom Morris but was refined by half a dozen architects in the past 120 years, most recently by Donald Steel. Though the greens are surprisingly flat, as if to compensate for the rugged terrain and numerous blind shots, bunkers are a definite highlight, most with arched eyebrows of dense marram grasses and impenetrable clumps of heather."

The Newcastle, Co Down based course was understandably delighted to be honoured with a No 1 placing: