Instituted October 1, 1896, Tralee Golf Club opened its present Arnold Palmer-designed course for play at Barrow in October, 1984, after moving from its nine-hole course at Mounthawk near Tralee. It was a great achievement for the Club. Having decided to buy land at Barrow back in 1980, the members dream of seeing the Club attain world-wide status has been realized.
Back in 1896 the Club had its first nine-hole course in Tralee, believed to be where the Sports field is now located. A year later, in 1897, it opened a nine-hole course in Fenit on the south-western side of Barrow Harbour. There were 120 members then (compared to today's 1,300) who paid a subscription of 10 shillings a year, with visitors having one week free play as introduction.
During the 'Troubles', in the 1920's, a Captain Lionel Hewson was hired to design a new course in Oakpark, Tralee. He was suspicious of the men who sat around on the demesne walls watching him while he measured and made notes. He wrote later that 'bullets used to fly in those days on little provocation. He had reason to cast a wary eye – a Major McKinnon in the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary was shot dead on the course in March, 1921, while playing golf.
The above is an excerpt from a book on the local area entitled Links: Barrow & Hinterland by Mary O’Connor.
Individual holes on the course have also played their own unique roles in history:
1st & 2nd
The spectacular view of beach, which runs at the back of the 1st hole and to the right of 2nd hole was the location of the beach scenes of the 1970 epic movie Ryan’s Daughter, which won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography.
3rd, 4th, 5th & 7th
The tower at the back of the 3rd green dates back to the 1190s, while legend has it that the big sandstone rock at the end of the wall running diagonally between the fourth and fifth fairways was hurled by the mythical Cuchullain from the top of the Sliabh Mish, the mountain that can be seen to the south. If one looks closely, what were supposed to be the imprint of his giant fingers can be seen on the boulder? The back of the 7th tee box overlooks the Randy, a small harbour that was a haven for smugglers in earlier centuries.
The stretch of beach just north of the 15th tee box is the lonely part of Banna Strand on which Roger Casement was landed from a U-boat on Good Friday 1916. He was arrested a short distance away, tried for treason in London, and executed.
16th & 17th
The beach behind the 16th green and off the right of the 17th hole was where many ships ran aground, including one vessel from the Spanish Armada in 1588.