I don’t play myself but it is impossible to ignore the impact of golfing here in Kerry. Sometimes I feel I am the only one not playing. I asked everyone I knew what the top 5 golf links courses in Kerry were, (some would say they are the top 5 in Ireland) and invariably the top 3 were the same with minor variations in the last 2.
I asked a work collegue, Aidan Teahan, what is so special about playing golf.
“Well, I started playing 14 years ago with friends, and at the time I felt it was a bit elitist and maybe not for me. But a couple of friends started and got me into it and it is an important part of my life. Its a day out with friends, its fun, its the fresh air and the scenery, its the stress release, and it is the competition. It might not be the Irish Open but you always want to improve, beat the buddies, or your last score. It Drives you on if you will pardon the pun. Each shot in each hole! Its differant everytime”.
So to the TOP 5 Golf Links Courses in KERRY
Number 5. Ballybunion Cashen Course ( the young pretender)
Cashen is invariably compared with the Ballybunion old course, which is probably unfair. if it was in any other county but Kerry, it would be much higher up the list. It is considered a more extreme course. The dunes and bunkers tend to higher and lower ,and it is demanding in every way. No less scenic than any of the rest, it probably suffers due to the lack of years under its belt. It was designed in 1982 by Robert Trent Jones, and is an important course in the round of Kerry Golf Circuit.
Number 4. Dooks Golf Course ( the country cousin)
George Boyle, now in his seventies, has been associated with Dooks Golf Course all his life.
He still plays regularly off a 12 handicap. I asked him to tell me about the club.
“Well, it started for me in 1968. The club was in poor shape at the time. Very little money spare in the county. I have seen it develop over the years to what it is today, and it holds its head high amongst the other stars in the county. It is not the biggest or flashest club, but it makes up for this with its sense of intimacy. The people are friendly, there is a warmth in the clubhouse, the course is in great condition and the scenery is breath taking.
Around here, we say – a day out of Dooks, is a day lost-“.
Number 3. Waterville Golf Course (The southern belle)
Brendan Keogh lunches with us regularly and works close by in SWING or South West of Ireland Golfing. A company which specialises in organising golfing holidays in Ireland as a whole. Brendan plays regularly, and has played all over the world. he is a member in Killarney’s golf club but his favourite Kerry Links Course is Waterville.
“It is a challenging pure links test in golf, in a fabulous setting. We are incredibly lucky here,we have such a good product all over the county. The pictures do the talking.
Links courses are’nt built, they are developed. It’s an natural organic growth. You feel more in touch with nature when you have the Atlantic Ocean at your back.”
Number 2 . Tralee Golf Course (The New boy)
Autie Boyle, age 75, brother of George, also plays off a twelve handicap, plays four times a week alternating between Dooks and Tralee Golf course and is a lifetime member in both clubs.
“I love both clubs. Both have great scenery and I have played in Dooks all my life and have many friends there. Tralee is a bigger club and the facilities are great. Its very challanging in Tralee because of the elements. It’s at the mercy of the sea and the wind. You can never get tired of it. It keeps me young and fit.The social side is important too and you never know who will be in the clubhouse.
Number 1 Ballybunion Old Course ( the old King)
It was unanimously choses by all. Surprising when you realise few of the people I asked played there regularly, because they were members in other clubs.
What makes it so special? They all have spectacular scenery. That’s a given in this county. All the clubs are well run with good facilities and lovely club houses.
What is the difference?
David Nolan is a local historian and golf fanatic –
“Its been here longer than all off us and it will be here after we are gone. It is a majestic old links course. You know you are walking in the steps of great men and great golfers.
Tom Watson, the great American golfer said this about Ballybunion.
any golfer reading that will know what that means, and if Tom Watson thought that about Ballybunion Old Course, well than who am I to argue”-
So there you have it . Ballybunion is the winner
The Non Golfer