The south west of Ireland has some stunning scenery, with the road the Ring of Kerry in particular having many majestic views. The golf courses in this part of this world share some of these dramatic landscapes.
Waterville is one of the most beautiful spots for golf I have encountered. Indeed, going round I was trying to think of a more beautiful course – and that was even before I had reached the 16th.
The final three holes here are the most scenic: a par 4 curving to the left with water on the right and also behind the green; a par 3 fired towards a backdrop of sea, and a par 5 parallel to the beach. But there is not a weak hole on the course.
This is a true links, but the fairways are fairly flat, straight and cut through dunes. Most holes in their own splendid isolation, one of the many attractions of the place. The course is long but did not seem so.
Dooks is another glorious spot for a links course. Waterville is marginally the better course but Dooks the better value. The later holes are the best, as they rise to the higher ground and afford some wonderful views.
The course is tight, but the challenges are clearly laid out in front of you. There a few bunkers around the greens, the course relying instead on tricky contouring and run-off areas for defence. We played on a day with no wind, but I imagine it could be a stiff test when it blows.
The prevailing winds must play a part in stroke indexes – without wind there are some generous stroke indexes and hence some good Stableford scoring holes.
The club’s emblem is the Nattterjack toad, as here is one of their rare habitats. They live in the pond on the 15th and hop off early in the morning for their constitutional – and fall into the holes on the nearby greens from which they cannot escape. So one of the early-morning duties of the greenkeeping staff is to rescue the toads from the holes.
Killarney Golf & Fishing Club has two parkland courses alongside a huge lake and towered over by mountains. The Killeen Course hosted the Irish Open in 2010 and 2011. For a recent tour venue it starts with some relatively gentle holes.
But the course certainly bares its teeth later, especially when the wind blows. The early holes are the most attractive, on the fringes of the lake. The 1st is a dogleg around the lake, the 3rd a beautiful par 3 over the water’s edge.
Mahony’s Point is the more beautiful of the courses here. Some of the earlier holes may lack definition – partly due to their lack of bunkers – but the closing stretch is one which lingers in the mind.
Down the 16th fairway you crest a hill to see the lake in front of you, mountains behind this, and the green perched on the lakeside. The 17th is played alongside the lake to a green set amongst rhododendrons and the 18th is the signature hole here, a par-3 over the edge of the lake.