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A PREVIEW OF WINOWALLY’S NEXT GOLF TRIP
(organized by Wino Bill, who should certainly get a plug given his extensive effort)

As you may recall from my last golf ranting, I journeyed to Ireland nearly a year and a half ago to play at some of its finest courses.  Our trip, which is chronicled on the pages of winostuff, was enjoyable and included courses from the far west to the north to Dublin on the Southeast.  An area where we did not journey was County Kerry on the Southwest.  Patrick, our driver, tour host, and bon vivant, hales from Killearney and expressed his dismay on that trip that we did not venture into the Southwest area of Ireland.  Well, Patrick got his wish and Wino Bill, our organizer, has put together a 9 day golf extravaganza that looks incredible (short of telling me where we’re going to dine, Wino Bill, so I can make sure we have acceptable beverages!).  Check out the descriptions of the 9 courses that our group will play during our trip!

 

Lahinch (see http://www.lahinchgolf.com/)

Lahinch Golf Club's origins go back to the closing decade of the nineteenth century. In 1892 officers of the famous Black Watch Regiment stationed in Limerick came upon a vast wilderness of duneland two miles from the spectacular Cliffs of Moher. Being good Scotsmen, they knew at once that they had found the perfect terrain for a golf links. When this came to the attention of Alexander W. Shaw and Richard J. Plummer, prominent officials of the Limerick Golf Club, they at once went out and made enquiries. The result was a second journey on April 9th when an eighteen-hole course was marked out. They were helped in the laying out of the course by officers of the Black Watch Regiment. Lahinch Golf Club was duly founded on Good Friday, 15th April 1892, and the first game of golf played there.

Lahinch Golf Club: Designing the Course.

The course has benefited both from the natural characteristics of the terrain and from the genius of distinguished course architects. Since the initial laying out of the links, various improvements have been made over the years. Alexander Shaw was not long in realizing that the unique nature of this location deserved very special development. The obvious choice as architect was Old Tom Morris of St Andrews. He accepted the challenge, but other than laying out the tees and greens, he felt there was little he could do. He commented: 'I consider the links is as fine a natural course as it has ever been my good fortune to play over.' More praise was to follow. In 1927 Dr. Alister Mackenzie was invited to make a number of adjustments to the links. On completion he remarked, 'Lahinch will make the finest and most popular course that I, or I believe anyone else, ever constructed.' Not perhaps the most modest statement ever made, but coming from a man who would very shortly design Cypress Point on the Monterey Peninsula and later help to create the legendary Augusta, it can hardly be taken lightly.

In fact, Mackenzie was not too wide of the mark. Lahinch is undoubtedly one of the world's great classic links. It has all the ingredients of greatness: a glorious setting, a rich history, superb natural terrain and, where man has 'intervened', it has been through the hand of an outstanding architect. It also has a pair of notorious blind holes, a ruined castle and goats that roam freely on the dunes.

 

Ballybunion (see http://www.ballybuniongolfclub.ie/)

Founded in 1893, Ballybunion has been ranked as one of the top 10 courses in the world (Herbert Wind).  The new course (Cashen) was built by Robert Trent Jones in 1972.  Tom Watson redesigned the old course in 1995.  I would list more significant items, but the website won’t allow me to copy text from the page.

 

Waterville (http://www.waterville-insight.com/golf.html)

WATERVILLE GOLF LINKS
THE RING OF KERRY

Club Tel: +353 66 9474102

CHARLES MULQUEEN, THE EXAMINER

The Waterville area and Ballinskelligs Bay play an important part in the mythology of ancient Ireland. According to the Book of Invasions written about 1000 AD, Cessair, the grand-daughter of Noah, landed in Ballinskelligs Bay after the flood and became Irelands first invader. Here, too, the last of the mythical invaders, the Milesians, settled in 1700 BC and reportedly left behind many of the archeological sites found in the area. These rich legends along with the earliest memories of Kerry history combine to form a mystical aura that visitors to Waterville can sense even today. No area captures this feeling more than the sand hills and strands that border Ballinskelligs Bay and forms the present day Waterville Golf Links.

Waterville Golf Links"The Green is considered a sporting one, and the views from it are very fine while the Atlantic breezes that blow across it are invigorating and refreshing. The hazards are such as are usually to be met on the seaside course." An accurate description, you may understandably believe, of the Waterville Golf Links that we know and love so well today. Except that these words were written as long ago as 1897 in the pages of the Sportsman's Holiday Guide and the article credits "the exertions of the Reverend J.G. Fahy" for bringing the, game into this remote vastness.

The early spread of golf in Ireland owed much to the influence of the forces of the British Empire. Wherever there was a garrison, there was also a golf course, it seemed. But golf at Waterville, and no matter what claims may be Made on behalf of the gallant Reverend Fahy, was primarily introduced through technology by the men who arrived here to work the first transatlantic cable relaying messages between the United States and Europe. They came first to nearby Valentia Island in the 1860's, then to Ballinskelligs in the 1870's, and finally to Waterville in the 1880's. Hundreds of technicians and workers arrived in these remote areas to build and man the Cable Stations, and it was inevitable that they should turn to sport and recreation. Golf was part of this agenda in the 1880's but perforce it was of the crudest kind and generally played in winter when the grasses died down.

Waterville Golf Ireland

The earliest structured golf at Waterville has been tracked back to 1889 when it came under the umbrella of the extremely active Waterville Athletic Club. It was a formalized part of the life of the village by 1900, when becoming one of the first clubs to be affiliated to the Golfing Union of Ireland - the oldest Union in the world. A modest nine hole layout occupying for the most part the flat eastern section of the present championship links, it was operated by the Athletic Club for, and on behalf of, the Commercial Cable Company.

Access in those far off days to Waterville wasn't always easy and was by railroad to Cahirsiveen or Kenmare and from there by stage coach which linked the two railheads. Golf's popularity in the village continued unabated for the next thirty years or so. The lush Golfers Guide of 1910 gives a formal institution date of 1902 and also records that it was a nine hole seaside course one mile from Waterville. At that time, the Honorable Secretary was Mr. A. Holt and the President was the Marquis of Landsdowne. The same Guide reported in 1916 that "Waterville is a fine natural links with splendid clubhouse, situated among the sand hills on Ballinskelligs Bay.. .a considerable sum has been spent in improving the fine natural links". It should, of course, be borne in mind that there is little comparison between the modem game and golf played a century ago over ground lacking the refinement and sophistication of present-day courses. The lone player, propelling a ball with a shaped stick over terrain hardly prepared at all by comparison with today, was the flag bearer though he could not be expected to know it at the time.

Waterville - Irish Links CourseWith the ebb and flow of membership, consequent on the fluctuations of the local Cable Station employees, the golf course experienced vicissitudes of fortune. The nadir approximated 1927 when, with numbers down at the Station through automatic message transfer, the Cable Company asked the Butler Arms Hotel to assist with the running and upkeep of the course. A lease was negotiated with the O'Reilly family and the club was revitalized. It was also this year that negotiations were begun that led to the ultimate sale of the Commercial Cable Company to the giant United States telecommunications and resort conglomerate, International Telephone and Telegraph.

On May 21, 1927 an event of major historical significance once again touched Waterville. Charles A. Lindbergh, the great American aviator, reached Ireland on the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris. He circled Valentia Island and then flew low on to Waterville waving his wing numbers (RX21 I) for the Cable Station to report to an anxious world. Aviation now joined cable communication to bring Europe and North America closer together.

Immediately before and after World War II, Waterville Golf Club had a high profile, winning honours including the prestigious Kerry Shield. The support of the Southern Lake Hotel along with the Huggard family and the Butler Arms Hotel, helped the facility through its final difficult years as more advanced technology replaced the need for cable communication and the club ultimately ceased to exist.

The links lay dormant throughout the latter part of the 1960's awaiting the arrival of the Irish born American, John A. Mulcahy from New York who had a vision to build the most testing golf links in the world. Ireland's foremost links architect, Eddie Hackett, joined Mulcahy in the task and between them they came up with a course that was fit to be ranked among the best. The terrain was ideal, and after exhaustive planing and work, the course and its new clubhouse opened in 1973. The original nine holes were reconfigured and expanded to create today's front nine. Its layout was designed as a contrast to the more rugged and exposed back nine, yet it quickly introduces the player to the complexity and beauty of links golf. The testing begins early at Waterville with the first hole named "Last Easy", and ends with the challenging and scenic "O'Grady's Beach". The course can be stretched to over 7,200 yards but don't be intimidated by that as several tees come into play on every hole so that all standards of golfers can enjoy a game here.

During the next 15 years under the leadership of John A. Mulcahy and its famous long driving professional Liam Higgins, Waterville enjoyed great popularity. Numerous professional tournaments were played notably the Kerrygold Classic and over forty of the worlds greatest champions from Snead to Faldo have experienced "Jack's Course". One of the many to be capti-vated by the beauty and majesty of Waterville is the great American professional and Ryder Cup Captain, Raymond Floyd. In a "Chicago Tribune" article, he selected Waterville as one of his five favorite courses along with Augusta National, Cypress Point, Pebble Beach and St. Andrews. He wrote... "This is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen... it has some of the finest links holes I have ever played." It's no coincidence then that Waterville is the only links course prominently displayed in the Lodge at Pebble Beach. The par 3 17th, know as Mulcahy's Peak, is probably Waterville's feature hole, but most would agree with Gary Player when he described the 11th as "the most beautiful and satisfying par 5 of them all". It runs for almost 500 yards through majestic dunes. You feel almost in a world of your own as you stroll along the fairway reflecting how well the hole merits the name, "Tranquility".

In 1987 Waterville was sold to yet another group of Irish Americans from Connecticut. They loved the game of golf and set about carrying on the history and traditions of the Links while introducing the latest horticultural techniques. The clubhouse and pro shop were renovated and golf art and memorabilia were added to create an atmosphere consistent with its long history. Today, Waterville is a product of spectacular links land, a technological era, an entrepreneurial spirit and a limited worldwide membership of 300. The Links has combined with Waterville House, the owner's elegant 18th century four star residence, to create one of the finest golf and fishing resorts in the world. The Waterville Fishery, and in particular Butlers Pool next to the House, is famous for its salmon and sea trout. Liam Higgins is now an established tournament winner on the European Senior Tour. His youngest son, David, now a professional himself, has won the Ulster PGA Championship and as a past Irish National Amateur Champion, he exemplifies the long amateur traditions of Waterville. Tom Doak, noted international golf architect, author, and contributing editor to Golf Magazine has joined Waterville to implement a master plan to refine and polish the Links in preparation for its 10th Anniversary.

On September 21, 1994 John A. Mulcahy passed away at the age of 88, and as requested, his ashes were buried on the famous Mulcahy's Peak. He leaves behind his greatest legacy to Ireland. Ranked among the Top 25 International Courses by Golf Digest, Waterville is truly a mystical Links in the Kingdom of Kerry. The late Henry Cotton, three times British Open cham-pion, said it best "Waterville has to be one of the greatest golf courses ever built. If it were locat-ed in Britain, it would undoubtedly be a venue for the British Open. I have never seen a more consistent succession of really strong and beautiful golf holes than here".

(This text was excerpted from the 1992 Waterville Links International tournament brochure written by Charles Mulqueen, Golf Correspondent for the Examiner and subsequently updated)

 

Dooks (http://www.dooks.com/)

Dooks opened in 1889 as a nine hole course built by erstwhile Dublin-based British artillery officers looking for a recreational alternative to target practice. By 1895, the Great Southern Railway Hotel at Caragh Lake advertised it as a major attraction for visitors. Three years later it expanded to a full 18 holes.

The railway established a stop, called Dooks Halt, just to let visitors off to play the course. The word Dooks is derived from the Gaelic word, Douaghs, or dunes.

The course is located on the northern arm of the Ring of Kerry near Glenbeigh six miles south of the very quaint riverside town of Killorglin, which is famous for Puck Fair, an annual August 3-day street fair that attracts people worldwide. The area features salmon fishing, fine ocean bathing, and wonderful golf.

The course lies on a promontory on the south side of Dingle Bay and commands a lovely view of the bay, the Atlantic, and MacGillycuddy’s Reeks to the south and the Dingle Mountains to the north. The course is laid out on sloping terrain that is actually devoid of tall dunes. The subsoil here is a mixture of glacial morrain and beach sand.

The largely treeless site is abundant with furze (commonly known as gorse), heather and other wild flora including chamomile, mayweed, cowslips, stitchwort, mouse ear and bluebells. It also provides habitat for choughs (a seabird), ravens, the merlin (a hawk species) and the natterjack toad.

Believed to be the oldest course in Kerry, Dooks was the pride and joy of the locals many of whom had a hand in the course’s simple design. The club is distinguished for its polity. Men and women had equal rank here, and many women over the years have served in prominent club positions.

At 6000 yards, the course is ideal for all calibers of players, but especially for casual golfers. Modest elevation changes ensure a good but not overly vigorous walk. The signature hole is the 13th, a 150-yard uphiller called "the Soup Bowl," appropriately named because of the green which is a geographical marvel. Devilishly steep and sloped every which way, it will test your patience and putting prowess. To get to some pin locations, you may have to putt in the opposite direction.

Along the 200-yard path to the first tee there is a sign reading, "Only Bona Fide Golfers Beyond This Point." After you get through 13, you may wonder if they’ll ever let you back. Don’t worry, the people at the club are delightfully warm and you will always be welcome.

 

 Dingle-CeAnn (http://www.golflinktravel.com/deg/ire2-dooksdingle.htm)

Golf Club Ceann Sibeal (Dingle) is the most westerly course in Europe. It is a short drive from Ballyferriter on the western Dingle Peninsula, whose geography is some- what similar to Connemara’s, rugged and mountainous with extensive green valleys. Here, in what feels like a very remote and secluded province of Ireland, Gaelic is still spoken.

The 6690-yard par 72 layout was co-designed by Eddie Hackett and Christy O’Connor Jr. Like Dooks, the terrain is morrainic and sandy, and not so vertiginous you need to jack up your heart rate to play the course, though it is definitely not flat. The architects moved virtually no earth, laying down a route over the land as they found it, using the tall grasses, mounds and environmental areas to good advantage in a simple, straight-forward plan. The most westerly hole is the 200-yard 10th, a beast of an pronounced uphill par 3 to a green with a sharp front and a large dune directly behind. Way out here just off the Atlantic, you can count on strong winds.

When finished with your round, you will find many attractions in this region including Mulcahy’s Pottery, high cliffs near Clogher Strand, a Napoleonic fort on nearby Sybil Head, and Ferriter’s Castle, belonging to Piaras Ferriter, a 17th Century local chieftain who stood to the last against Cromwell, until he was hanged in 1652.

Speaking of hanging, at the Ring of Kerry Golf & Country Club, the third of the three, you could easily get a hanging lie if you’re not careful. The magnificently groomed golf course was laid out by Eddie Hackett on a hillside where level lies are as infrequent as an Irish day without clouds.

 

Tralee (http://www.traleegolfclub.com/indexm.htm)

Designed by Arnold Palmer and built in 1984, the pictures on the website tell it all.  Check this course out!

TRALEE GOLF CLUB

The Barrow, Ardfert
Co.Kerry, Ireland

Client Reviews

 

COURSE REVIEW:

Founded:

1983 (present location)

Designer:

Arnold Palmer

Championship Length:

6,806 yards

PAR:

71

SSS (Course Rating):

73

Type:

Links

 

TraleeRepresenting the first European design of Arnold Palmer, Tralee Golf Club in southwestern Ireland is one of the most spectacularly beautiful golf courses you will ever encounter. And while beauty often masks certain deficiencies in a golf course, that is certainly not the case with Tralee. Having completed his masterpiece, Palmer commented: "I have never come across a piece of land so ideally suited for the building of a golf course. I am happy that we have one of the world's great links here".

While it always boasted a magnificent setting, with the course settling down and the greens thriving over time, Tralee has now joined the elite group of Irish links. With views of the Atlantic and white sandy beaches from almost every hole, Tralee earns rave reviews from all who play it. Renowned golf writer Peter Dobereiner aptly summed up the experience of playing here, commenting: "As a spectacle, Tralee is in a different class...the setting is quite the most magnificent backdrop for a golf course I have ever encountered. It thus passes with distinction my first test of a course, which is that it should be an exhilarating place to walk around regardless of how well or badly you may be playing."

Tralee is one of those courses where it is difficult to concentrate on your game due to the breathtaking nature of the scenery but you will nevertheless note that the course offers countless superb holes. Best on the front nine include the doglegging par five 2nd hole, which measures over 590 yards from the championship tees and plays directly along the Atlantic Ocean to the right; the demanding par three 3rd hole, which requires a tee shot struck almost over the beach to a green guarded left and right by bunkers; and the relatively short par four 8th hole, which again requires a brave tee shot skirting with a watery grave on the left and requiring a pinpoint approach to a target sloping wickedly from right to left.

Brace yourself for one of the finest homeward stretches in golf. Each hole from the 10th to the 18th provides an unforgettable experience. When playing your second shot to the 12th green, you will quickly realize why it's rated the most difficult on the course. Assuming you have hit a good drive, a huge depression from which there is no escape lurks to the left, while there is literally nowhere to land your ball other than on the green. The short par three 13th over what is best described as "trouble" is all about trusting your club selection, while the longer par three 16th requires a well struck mid to long iron from an elevated tee to a green cleverly protected by bunkers and perched directly beside the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Adare (http://www.adaremanor.ie/golf.asp)

Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort is a 19th Century estate situated within the picturesque village of Adare. The Adare Golf Course opened in 1995 and was designed and built by the world famous architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. stretching 7138 yards from championship tees down to 5082 yards (Incorporating 4 tees per hole). The Golf Course is a majestic design with rock-walled streams, suttle undulating putting surfaces with the Jones signature clover leaf bunkers. A 14 acre lake dominates the front nine holes while the back nine is routed through wooded land. Adding beauty to all of this, the River Maigue meanders through the course creating a sense of beauty and challenge. Its testing design coupled with superb putting surfaces, Adare Golf Club is one of the finest golf courses in Ireland.

In 1999 to maintain our 5 star standard our golf superintendent Mr. Joe O' Flaherty designed and implemented a drainage system and top-dressing programme to ensure our facility is available all year round. The success of this operation has allowed us to provide an extremely high standard of course.

 

 

Doonbeg (http://www.doonbeggolfclub.com/)

Doonbeg Makes a Bold Statement on the International Scene

By Derek Duncan,
WorldGolf.com Senior Writer

DOONBEG, IRELAND (Feb. 4, 2004) -- The coastal landscape along Doughmore Bay in west County Clare was too perfect for it not to someday be a links. The question wasn't "if," but "when."

"When," however, was a long time in coming.

Doonbeg Golf Club now resides amid the steeply matted dunes that the founders of Lahinch recommended for golf as far back as 1892. This might have been their first choice for a club but because of its remote location and lack of access to major rail lines the site was passed over.

For a century the savagely beautiful linksland lay dormant before the golf explosion of the 1990's finally overtook it. The Doonbeg Community Development Company resurrected the golf talk in the early 90's and convinced a company known as Shannon Development to purchase 377 acres of the property from the local farmers who owned it.

Kiawah Development Partners acquired Shannon Development's options in 1997 and along with Greg Norman Golf Course Design began construction of the course in December of 1999.

KDP had little problem financing the course - over $25 million was raised from private investors - but building Doonbeg proved to be anything but smooth. As if not willing to give in so easily to the golf it had successfully resisted it for over a century, the land confronted Norman and crew with complications that resulted in serious routing dilemmas.

Doonbeg Golf ClubCertain prime areas of real estate were off limits because a tiny endangered species of snail known as Vertigo angustoir was discovered living in the soil of the dunes. This coupled with another protected asset, 51 acres of ancient grey dunes, meant that the routing was forced to take a few less than ideal turns around areas that were off-limits. These fenced off sections near the shore will certainly cause players to look in and wonder "what if," but welcome to golf design in the 21st century.

Snails, grey dunes, and 100-plus years of obsolescence aside, Doonbeg opened for play in July 2002, instantaneously dropping jaws and stirring conversation. The unique land formations and sleek architecture are at once haunting and daring.

The routing gallops through the vales and saddles of the 100-foot dunes, only occasionally interloping over the top (the fifth hole's dramatic descent from crest to the ocean comes immediately to mind).

Doonbeg Golf ClubSix holes play directly against Doughmore Bay while a total of 16 tees or greens afford some view of the Atlantic beyond. Many of the ambitiously shaped greens are set idyllically inside natural amphitheaters, notably at the regal par 5 opening hole, the three-shot 10th, and the long par 4 15th.

In keeping with traditional links formation, as well as to soothe environmentalists, Norman utilized a non-interventionist approach to the design and claims that many of the greens and fairways were simply mowed from the native grasses. Scottish-style sod-faced pot bunkers dot the course but more impressive and equally as penal are the nasty, roughed out explosion bunkers.

Doonbeg has not been immune to criticism, however. Common among the more candid initial reviews were reports of severity, particularly the inescapable rough and over-the-top green contour, while some view the crossovers from holes five to six, 14 to 15, and 17 to 18 as dangerous.

Apparently the routing restrictions made these crossings necessary; the optimist would insist they add quirk to the course. As for the accusations of severity, member Padraig Harris of Dublin (11 handicap) disagrees.

"Look at this," he says, sweeping his hand across the horizon of the endlessly wide par 5 fourth, a hole where there's scant place to lose a ball unless it's hit entirely off the course. "What's too severe about it? You can almost hit it anywhere, and there are many holes out here like this. I just don't see (the severity)."

The high, fescue rough of Doonbeg, if you can call it rough, is impenetrable. Caddies simply will not waste their time looking for shots that miss most fairways, but the key is that the fairways are wide. Those at the fourth, eighth, 10th, 12th, 15th, and 17th are possibly as broad as fairways can be.

Doonbeg Golf ClubNonetheless, for all its beauty and flair there are still a few kinks to be worked out. The 9th and 14th, two of the most picturesque par threes in the universe, will always be controversial despite their beauty (the 14th, for instance, may be impossible to finish in certain conditions). The bunker in the center of the 12th green seems to be hated with the same emotion that the 15-foot deep bunker guarding the 11th green is feared. And the author is still trying to figure out how to hold short approach shots into the small, elevated greens at the third and sixth holes.

If the greens are exaggerated they're not out of character with the immense personality of the course. In fact the world of golf could use more greens with the panache of Doonbeg's, rather than the milquetoast efforts we so often get in America. In any evaluation, challenge is what Norman wanted to create and in that regard they are more than adequate.

"He was out here all the time trying to change little things on the course," Harris says of Norman, relaying a story of how, against ownership's wishes, the architect tried in vain to have a dune behind the sixth green removed because it helped to stop bad shots from rolling into trouble. "Norman said he didn't want some 8-handicapper to come in and tear up his course."

Who's It For?

Anyone playing in Ireland. Doonbeg is modern golf in an old world setting and a good bet to claim several magazine awards as best new international course for 2002. The green contours are exceptionally bold - excitingly so - and a greater diversity among the short holes cannot be found. Regardless of whether the course is too severe (get a caddy), sites such as this can be counted on fingers and toes. If you're bringing your sticks to Eire, don't miss it.

Wino Wally
Baltimore, MD
August 19, 2004

 


 

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