61. Royal North Devon (2004 position ? 66)

6665 yards; Par 72; SSS 72

Green fees £38-£44

Tel: 01237 477598

www.royalnorthdevongolfclub.co.uk

When I first arrived at the Royal North Devon club I was surprised to hear that, having been founded in 1864, it is England?s oldest links course. However, from the moment I stepped out from the small, old-fashioned clubhouse (a shrine to the evolution of the sport from its embryonic stages) onto the course, I was left in no doubt of its heritage. Sheep, cows and horses share this landscape with sea rushes and narrow ditches, and the result is a unique and charming test of golf. The wind whistles unrestricted across this arid countryside and this means you will require strict ball control, while the large greens feature some subtle changes in elevation that always demand a careful read.

62. Isle of Purbeck (55)

6295 yards; Par 70; SSS 70

Green fees £25-£43

Tel: 01929 450354

www.purbeckgolf.co.uk

I found that while playing to your handicap is difficult on this course the challenge it presents does create its own enjoyment factor. Miss the fairways ? even though they are on the generous side ? and it?s probably a hack out. However, I feel that if you find yourself on top of your game and the weather is set fair then a good score is possible. The course is built on shallow sandy heathland soil over rock, and is awash with heather and gorse. There are views over Poole Bay that are truly magnificent.

63. Mount Juliet (53)

6926 yards; Par 72; SSS 73

Green fees E75-E160

Tel: 00353 56 777 3000

www.mountjuliet.ie

Mount Juliet has established itself as one of Ireland?s leading golf resorts. The course is a Jack Nicklaus design and though it?s only been open since 1991 the layout implies permanence and delivers maturity beyond its years. Stretching to 7,300 yards with water hazards and oak-lined fairways, Mount Juliet reflects the beauty and scale of the magnificent 1,500-acre estate the course is set in.

64. Ballyliffin Glashedy Course (65)

6897 yards; Par 72; SSS 73

Green fees E50-E80

Tel: 00353 74 937 8100

www.ballyliffingolfclub.com

Ballyliffin?s Glashedy links is the creation of Pat Ruddy and Tom Craddock and the course is marked by huge greens and beautifully riveted bunkers. Unique and challenging holes that wind through the looming sand hills must be negotiated with careful thought and precision. The course is situated on Donegal?s Inishowen peninsula, which is looked over by Binion Hill and has splendid views out to the Atlantic Ocean. Opened in 1995, the Glashedy is the newer of the two courses at Ballyliffin.

65. Rosapenna Sandy Hills Links (new entry)

6356 yards; Par 71; SSS 71

Green fees E50-E75

Tel: 00353 74 915 5301

www.rosapennagolflinks.ie

From the start there?s an eager sense of anticipation as you thread drive after drive between dunes. The start leaves you breathless ? especially the par-4 4th doglegging away to the right ? but there?s really no let up in excitement from start to finish. It?s peaceful too, as many holes are effectively little islands of solitude amid the imposing dunes. The whole experience is unrelentingly mesmerising, and I?d be amazed if this links didn?t climb higher on this list in future years.

66. Worplesdon (73)

6431 yards; Par 71; SSS 71

Green fees £35-£80

Tel: 01483 473287

www.worplesdongc.co.uk

There has been a lot of work done to Worplesdon in the last few years including the introduction of new bunkering, the lengthening of holes and much tree clearing. The results are spectacular. The new tees and bunkers have really toughened the course up, especially for big hitters, while the tree clearance has restored the course?s natural characteristics and dramatically increased the quality of the greens as result of the increased light and air getting to them.

67. Wentworth Edinburgh Course (new entry)

6717 yards; Par 72; SSS 73

Green fees £60-£125

Tel: 01344 846306

www.wentworthclub.com

Some Wentworth members believe the relatively youthful Edinburgh course to be the best on the estate, and after playing it I?m not so sure I wouldn?t agree with them. Yes, the West has its fame and history and is complemented beautifully by the East. But the Edinburgh has a different feel again as it wends its way through the estate?s ?Great Wood?, often through avenues of pines. My favourite hole would be the par-3 17th, over water to a tiered green, where getting too cute to a tight pin position can cause you to come a watery cropper ? as I discovered to my chagrin.

68. County Louth (64)

6716 yards; Par 72; SSS 72

Green fees E115-E135

Tel: 00353 41 988 1530

www.countylouthgolfclub.com

Ireland has many fine links courses dotted right around the coastline and County Louth (Baltray) is one of these. It is a Tom Simpson design set in sand dunes. After a long start, a long par 4 followed by two par 5s, the character of the course is established with a succession of terrific holes that test your skill and keep your interest right to the last putt. The sea is rarely seen but often heard, especially when whipped up by the ever-present wind.

69. Bearwood Lakes (71)

6488 yards; Par 72; SSS 71

Green fees £25-£45 only with a member

Tel: 0118 979 7900

www.bearwoodlakes.co.uk

This is a relatively new course and I found much to admire in its layout. While plenty of earth has been moved in order to create it, the end result is a course that is for the most part pleasing to the eye and perhaps more importantly enjoyable for all levels of golfer. The clubhouse is also excellent and I felt it had a refreshingly unstuffy atmosphere throughout. Particularly noteworthy was the relaxed attitude towards children both in the clubhouse and out on the practice green.

70. The Machrie (57)

6324 yards; Par 71; SSS 72

Green fees £45

Tel: 01496 302310

www.machrie.com

One of only two island courses to make the Top 120, along with the Isle of Man?s Castletown. But don?t let a ferry crossing or short flight put you off sampling this wonderful 115-year-old links on the Hebridean island of Islay. It?s as natural a course as you?ll find anywhere with a fair sprinkling of the quirky elements and blind shots you?d expect from a 19th-century Celtic links. And when you?ve hung up your clubs for the day you can retire to the adjacent hotel and work your way through some ? or all ? of the fruits of this tiny island?s seven whisky distilleries, thus completing a truly Scottish golfing experience.