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:
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.
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.
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.
Scroll down to view the description on each hole.
Click on a hole title to view its description.
Listen to the larks, as they rise out of the undergrowth and wish you well as you start on an exhilarating golfing experience. It takes its name from the large rock called Mucklough which rises out of the sea to the left. Mucklough means a sea lion which were hunted here in the distant past.
As the Australian Golf Digest says, Palmer exacted full dividends from the stunningly beautiful landscape that sits atop the cliffs and dunes.
A straight-forward opening par 4 with a generous fairway. Work out the wind as it is a factor on this hole and take enough club to get up with your second.
The player must negotiate a narrow passage before heading for the sheltered green in the “little corner” on the cliff top.
Take the time to look at the view from the back tee, it’s spectacular.
This par 5 is the longest on the course and rated as one of the classic holes at Barrow by Golf World Ireland, winds its way by the cliff edge. A dogleg left to right played adjacent to the beach. The corner cannot be cut.
Hardly visible is part of a deep ditch – the oldest preserved feature of the course – which once encircled a promontory fort in the Bronze Age, long before the castle was built.
The show-piece of the course – a slender finger of green rising from the crashing waves – requires no more than an eight or nine iron, but the rocks and hungry sea at the right have claimed many a ball. It is hard not to be distracted by the 14th century castle/tower, with the backdrop of Fenit Island and the sweeping panorama of mountains and Tralee Bay.
Close to the tee, at the right, is a boulder burial site – now a grassy mound – of red sandstone, dating to the Megalithic Bronze Age.
Legend tells of Cuchulainn (one of Ireland’s great mythical heroes and warriors) stopping here for a rest on his travels.
A semi-blind drive played to a right to left sloping fairway. Avoid the bunkers on the right. The best approach is from the left side of the fairway, as the green slopes sharply from right to left.
This dogleg par 4, veering to the right, brings you face-to-face again with the sea, the tail of the Sliabh Mish mountains and the Rose, Crow and Illaunacusha rocks. Aim slightly left of centre to miss the bunkers on the right, which are perfectly positioning to catch any ball drifting right.
The 6th is a sharp right dog-leg par 4, the second part over undulating hillocks as you go towards the green, this is the beginning of the Loop, comprising the 6th, 7th and 8th, and noted as Arnold Palmer’s favourite part of the course. The second shot must allow for a slopping green right to left with a deep bunker over the back left.
At this short par 3 the tee-boxes overlook the Randy Quay. This hole has a narrow, three-tiered green with pot bunkers for protection. Clubbing is crucial here as a ball on the wrong level will leave a devilish putt.
The “Creek of Barrow” is the channel that runs in from the ocean to Barrow Harbour (one of the most important places in Europe for bird-watching and officially designated an Environmentally Sensitive Area in 1995).
You might see one or two of the 6 Grey Herons who come back each year to the tall trees near Barrow House.
This is a classic par 4. You might be tempted to go with a driver, then hopefully leaving no more than a pitch to the green. But the rocks and the Atlantic lie in wait to the left for the even-slightly pulled shot. The approach should be played slightly to the right as the ball will kick left onto the green. Putting here is an experience.
You might find yourself trying to outdo a hare or two, whose haunts are hereabouts.
You are now ready for some sustenance at the Clubhouse pit-stop, before the next 9-hole adventure - the “best you’ll ever find” according to Chris Falkenhagen of the Maryland Independent.
After the tussle with the Loop, this slightly uphill par 5 should be a clear run and can be reached in two. There is plenty of fairway with only the bunkers on the right to hinder progress.
Sandhills beckon. As on the 1st, you have the hills of Kerryhead and the Atlantic ahead again.
You could be lulled into a false sense of security here and might even be stopping to take pictures of the cute rabbits. You need the break before the 11th.
A slight dogleg to the left, with the green set at the foot of the dunes. Two deep bunkers lurk greenside on the right, so if you do miss the green do so on the left as it will leave you with an easier chip.
Well worth the climb to the top – the highest part of the course with, again, a panoramic view of rock pinnacles, pounding surf and stretches of beach to tempt the photo hunter.
The only conceivable way to improve upon the scene, said Stephen Goodwin of the Washington Post, is to send a ball flying through it. He also calls the course a “Gaelic Pebble Beach”.
A long par 5, this uphill hole demands attention. The second shot is uphill and blind.Your attention is vital and a well excecuted long iron or wood is required here in order to give you a simple pitch to the green for your 3rd shoot.
And there is plenty of it. But the 12th is a magnificent hole, a long downhill par 4, rated the most difficult on the Links.
Peter Andrews of “American Heritage” says that “the 12th will someday rank as one of the premier par 4s on the globe”.
Heavy rough on the right, a wall to the left demanding that the tee shot be accurate. A good drive down the middle, which will tend to kick left, leaves a long iron or wood to carry you past a yawning chasm to the left to reach the plateau green.
History doesn’t tell who or what “Brock” was although, it is a local name for Badger.
A short iron should do it here. But it’s hard not to look down and wonder how you can recover an errant ball from this Irish Grand Canyon. The caddie of course. Enough to know that this is a “dinky” par 3. Just don’t look down.
An intimidating Par 3 from the tee, as the ball must carry all the way. The shot is also slightly uphill, so take the right club. A shot slightly overhit into the sand dune behind can sometimes come back down onto the green, but if it catches up the back it can leave a very awkward chip.
Mighty Crosty is facing you here, but this rocky outcrop is on another patch of land in the distance. It overlooks a place called Sandy Lane one side and Carrahane Strand on the other.
The latter is the stretch of beach and sandhills near Banna Strand where Sir Roger Casement came ashore from a German submarine in 1916. It was a prelude to the unsuccessful Easter Rising.
From this elevated tee the fairway beckons. Hit straight and you’re laughing. A good drive down either of the two parallel fairways will be rewarded with a short iron approach to the green. Avoid the deep bunkers tucked into the mounds
The ‘Blue Hole’ where the Atlantic comes in and stays.
The tee-box looks down on this deceptively tranquil inlet, where a little further on is “Poul Paddy” where three Paddy’s lost their lives.
The course’s shortest par 4. Your short tee-shot should take you to the main fairway plateau. The marram grass after that is bountiful, but a short left through the gap should put you on the green.
An exciting par 3, this glorious one-shotter is described as the best of the par threes. The target is small but help is at hand – a shot hitting the bank on the left will generally feed down onto this green. The elevated tee overlooks part of a coast described as “the graveyard of the Spanish Armada”.
Probably the most memorable hole, the 17th is a par 4 which plays from a high tee across a deep gorge to a green perched high against a backdrop of mountains. “The word awesome can rightly be associated with the Tralee Golf Club” is what the Washington Post had to say adding that it is possibly the finest test of golf in all of Ireland.
A short par 5 by to-days standards, but the sight of the Clubhouse at the green keeps you going. Avoid all 13 bunkers and a birdie is there for the taking. Two full shots should get you there, but you will be distracted by the mountains again, with their shifting colours of green, purple and mauve as the light changes.
Tralee Golf Club prides itself on having modern attractive facilities at your disposal.
Our clubhouse houses spacious dressing rooms with specially designed shower areas and steam rooms. Locker facilities and towels are part and parcel of the service. While visiting be sure to check out our Bar and Restaurant which can offer excellent food and drink while you enjoy the majestic views of Barrow and its surrounds. Our Club Shop is manned by our Club Professionals who can help you with advice and experience. The shop carries and extensive range of branded goods from leading labels, all at a very competitive price. Don't forget to enquire about our Caddies. Their local knowledge is a must for first time players of the course.
Other facilities include:
Available for you to check your e-mail or browse the internet.
Our 9 hole putting green in front of the clubhouse will give you a good feel for the putting surface before you set out on your round of golf.
The practice area will allow you to loosen up and appraise the conditions. Yardage markers are placed at intervals so you can see how far you are hitting that 6 iron.
Our bar & restaurant have one of the most remarkable views of any golf clubhouse in the world. The Bar offers a friendly atmosphere and experienced staff. A great pint of Guinness can be enjoyed whilst you relax and discuss your round of golf. Most of the holes can be seen through the wall of glass overlooking the course. The restaurant offers a range of speciality meals produced with the finest of local produce.
The balcony is a great place to relax and eat lunch on a summer day. There is also a lounge room with TV for keeping an eye on the scores from the majors and internet access is available for checking your e-mail messages and browsing the web.
Our Club Professionals can arrange lessons and are always willing to give advice on the type of shots and style of play that is required to tame this links course.
Why not take some time to relax after your round of golf. Our steam room is a wonderful way to loosen the limbs and relax the muscles.
Then take Route 21 to Tralee. *Avoid going through Tralee town by taking the 3rd exit at the round about after the Ballygarry House Hotel. Continue driving until you come to the next round about then take the 1st exit, continue driving until you come to the next round about and take the 1st exit. Continue driving until you come to the first set of traffice lights. Turn right and continue driving until you come to the next round about take the 2nd exit (entering the Bracken O'Regan Road) At the next round about take the 2nd exit entering the R558 Fenit road. A 1/4 mile beyond Oyster Tavern, Spa, at fork go right towards Churchill/Barrow. Follow signs to Tralee Golf Club. Alternatively, from Limerick you can also take the picturesque route(Coast Road). Take N69 west to Tarbert and Listowel. Then, route 557 to Abbeydorney and Ardfert. Turn left in centre of Ardfert village and take third road to the right for Barrow and Tralee Golf Club
Take N22 to Killarney, then N21 to Tralee. At the first round about after the (John Mitchels Football Club) take the 2nd exit. Continue driving to the next round about and take the 2nd exit. Continue driving until you come to the next round about then take the 1st exit, continue driving until you come to the next round about and take the 1st exit. Continue driving until you come to the first set of traffice lights. Turn right and continue driving until you come to the next round about take the 2nd exit (entering the Bracken O'Regan Road) At the next round about take the 2nd exit entering the R558 Fenit road. A 1/4 mile beyond Oyster Tavern, Spa, at fork go right towards Churchill/Barrow. Follow signs to Tralee Golf Club
Take N67 through Kilkee, Kilrush and Killimer, then ferry to Tarbert. In Tarbert take N69 and at end of Listowel town continue on N69 (over bridge and right) for half a mile. Turn right on Route 557 to Abbeydorney and Ardfert. Turn left in centre of Ardfert village; then take third road to the right for Barrow and Tralee Golf Club
Take Route 557 to Abbeydorney and Ardfert Turn left in centre of Ardfert village; then take third road to the right for Barrow and Tralee Golf Club.
Take N70 to Caherciveen, Glenbeigh, Killorglin and Tralee. You will then be looking for Route 551 to Ardfert, turning left at roundabout for 558 to Fenit. 1/4 mile beyond Oyster Tavern, Spa, at the fork go right towards Churchill/Barrow. Follow signs to Tralee Golf Club.
To complement the quotes suggested below from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story:
Below are some of the comments that we have received from people who have played our course:
During a recent interview Top Professional Kevin Stadler explained….
“My favorite courses are Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Tralee Golf Club”
We played your course on 23 August 2013 with my friends from Holland. We started our journey to play Lahinch followed by Doonbeg. On the 23rd August we started early to play Ballybunion Old and frankly Anthony, we were a bit tired and were even thinking of skipping Tralee as we "had" to play Waterville and Old Head as well. Thank God we didn't and we so very much enjoyed your absolutely fantastic course! Such a thrill and indeed the back nine was designed by God himself. You provided us 2 young lads as caddy and they were so nice and blended in our group perfectly. They were of great help and provided much info regarding Tralee. So your course ended on our No.1 spot, followed by the rest and that was pleasant surprise for us as we would have thought a different top 6.
But the most enjoyable was your hole 19. We felt guests and very welcome. People interacted with us foreigners and were asking if we enjoyed the course etc. Also your youht commission. We saw this group of male and female adults working and helping with your youngsters and the prize giving we witnessed was just warm, sincere and enthusiastic. We have travelled over the whole world Anthony and played many courses. Some are really nice, high end but have cold atmosphere. Some are OK but have a 'party clubhouse'. You have a fantastic golf course (which I will definitely try and come back to play!), fantastic members and great young players and a very welcoming clubhouse. The people could not have been nicer to us and we had just a fantastic afternoon and will treasure the great experience.
Thank you Anthony!
Frank van Doorne
I returned to the USA from Ireland a couple of weeks ago and several of my friends have asked me to describe Tralee; I can not since no words have been developed to describe such beauty . My group played 8 courses there during our visit, with Tralee being the last I have played courses all over the US and several in Canada, but I have never seen such a beautiful golf course. Honestly, you should warn golfers about the beauty of your golf courses before they arrive to play. I had my highest score there of the entire trip, but it mattered not since I was certain that I had found the gateway to heaven on your golf course. Thank you for a wonderful, unforgettable experience.
Roger Stewart Alabama, USA
The Course at the Tralee Golf Club in Ireland is the most beautiful golf course i've ever played... the sea and the light and the sky and the hills and the fields.... it's just the prettiest one.
Bill Murray Actor
"The most beautiful golf course I have ever played."
Kevin Fitzpatrick, Dublin
"A beautiful links, lovely food and a great atmosphere."
Gary Keane, Cork
"I will start by telling you that my wife is a Jehovah witness and this weekend she was in Punchestown for their annual convention. Their teachings are that when they depart this earth that they will live in paradise for eternity. I had cause to ring her on Saturday night and tell her I had beat her to it while I was still alive. I played in the intermediate scratch cup on Saturday and it was a truly magnificent experience. Every hole had spectacular panoramas and it was such a pleasure standing on every tee box. Never mind that as a combined group we left 24 golf balls for members to pickup. We could only marvel as we watched that they could go immediately to the thick rough and find it while we managed to find just one ball that strayed off a true line. Having played there around 15 years ago it is only on Saturday I understood the true majesty of the course. Having convinced my 2 playing partners we should make the trip from Cork it was rewarding to hear them raving about it just as much. As a Scotsman living in Ireland for the last 30 years I could always boast we had the best golf courses. I stand corrected. If you would discount us the cost of the 24 balls we would only be too delighted to return there sooner rather than later. In the meantime we will bore anyone who will listen about the time the mighty Tralee tamed us.
Billy Berry, Scotland
"Ireland’s hidden gem; absolutely sweet."
Tony White, USA
"Outstanding in every way."
William Nagle, Australia
"The best staff in the world and the best golf club in all of Ireland. Thanks to each and every one."
"The best place in the world. It was a great experience in one of the most beautiful places on earth."
Shari Robinson, Canada
"An experience to remember for a lifetime when you play Tralee Golf Club."
Paul Bohan, New York
"Tralee one of the world’s most scenic and spectacular true links golf course."
Jim Byrne, Dublin
"The memories of Tralee Golf Club will live forever."
Steve Keaveney, USA
"One of the very finest links golf courses on the planet."
Conor Shalloe, USA
"Tralee Golf club is a pure links, in the truest sense of the world."
Bernard McCormac, Canada
"Unrivalled in terms of the magnificent beauty and setting of the site located in the southwest of Ireland, Tralee Golf Club."
Mick McCarthy, Cork