Tralee Golf ClubTop 100 UK & Ireland
“I have never come across a piece of land so ideally suited for the building of a golf course.” That is what the Tralee’s designer, the legendary Arnold Palmer, had to say about the site on which he has built his first course in Ireland. And what a course it is. Set in a truly awe-inspiring location in County Kerry, the ‘Lake District’ of Ireland, Tralee is not only a fantastic test of golf but a full on attack on the senses from start to finish; one where golfers may just end up taking as many photographs as they do shots.
Excellent practice facilities and a superb clubhouse complement the course excellently, and the location is convenient too, being just under half an hour’s drive from the town of Tralee itself.
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Tralee Golf Club
As you pull into the car park at Tralee, you are immediately struck by the beautiful surroundings the course enjoys, and you know you’re in for a golfing treat. This is truly the most spectacular piece of land, and the golf course simply reflects that. Opened for play in 1984, Tralee was the first course in Europe built by the now established Palmer Design Company and the results are astounding.
As you make your way down the 1st hole towards the crashing surf of the Atlantic Ocean, the excitement builds and it rarely fades on the way around the front nine, which is played across fairly flat links land, with many of the holes hugging the coastline, and where players will be playing their shots to targets almost within touching distance of the water. The ground is elevated too, and this offers golfers superb views from the cliff tops, across Tralee Bay to the Atlantic Ocean beyond. While plenty of these holes are testing and supremely beautiful, this is just a small taste of things to come throughout the second half of the round.
Palmer also said of the course that, while he designed the front nine, “surely God designed the back nine."
Having made the turn – the 9th green is right by the clubhouse so golfers can easily pop in for refreshments...and perhaps a fresh stock of golf balls – players will then enjoy the downhill par 4 10th before they venture into the monstrous dunes where the remainder of the round will be played out. The back nine coughs up stunning hole after stunning hole, and as you traverse the dunes, you find yourself thinking “this can’t possibly get any better”; then it does, with excitement and drama at every turn.
Finishing with a testing uphill par 5, Tralee will surely leaving you wanting more and while the course is by no means easy, visitors are consistently charmed by this unfussy, traditional links, as well as the friendly atmosphere inside the clubhouse.
Any golf tour in Ireland's south-west should encompass what, in a relatively short amount of time, has become a classic.
Designed by: Old Tom Morris, Dr Alistair Mackenzie & Dr Martin Hawtree
Opened for play: Club founded 1892 – Old Course upgraded by Dr Alistair Mackenzie in 1927 whose changes were restored by Martin Hawtree in 1999
Blue: 6,975 yards
White: 6,678 yards
Green: 6,247 yards
Reds: 5,481 yards
Signature Hole – No. 17: Par 4, 361 yards (Blue Tees)
While it sounds cliché to say it’s almost impossible to choose a signature hole at Tralee, few would argue that that isn’t the case. There are plenty to choose from but the par 4 17th is a great snapshot of the total Tralee experience. Film buffs will certainly be excited to play it, as this landscape was chosen to feature in David Lean’s award-winning film “Ryan’s Daughter”, such is the beauty on offer.
With a sandy beach stretching along the right of the hole and into the distance, the tee shot is played over a gorge to a slightly raised fairway before turning slightly to the right and climbing steeply towards a green perched high in the dunes, all against a breathtaking backdrop of ocean, mountains and the distant Dingle peninsula.
It’s all about the approach shot here. Once in position from your tee shot,
take extra care in selecting your club as missing the green will make carding a
par a really tough task. However you play the hole, be sure to stop and take in
the surroundings, taking a picture or two for good measure.
- Pro Shop
- Putting Greens
- Club House
- Championship Standard Course
Admittedly we were there on a sunny day with only a light breeze in the air but my jaw was dropping as early as the second hole! By the third I was in love.
At the turn I really thought it could not get better but how wrong I was! The back nine holes are quite overwhelming. Devine. Very, very difficult. Thrilling! The stunning setting makes it difficult to know which way to look and as much as I love Turnberry, I would have to say, in my humble opinion, this is better.
A must play for all who love the game of golf.
Our tour of the South West coast of Ireland included the likes of Ballybunion, Lahinch and Doonbeg (now Trump International Ireland) so, while I was still looking forward to my round at Tralee, I was half expecting the other courses to outshine it due to their more established reputations...the aforementioned courses are awesome but in my opinion, Tralee trumped the lot!
The moment you arrive in the Tralee car park you know you’re in for a special round of golf as the setting is truly breathtaking. Views out over the ocean are on offer from pretty much all over the course and the Dingle Peninsula in the distance makes the backdrop even more special.
The first three holes are stunning and take you right along the edge of the water, seriously whetting your appetite for the rest of the round. The next few holes kind of connect the dots (they are by no means weak holes by the way) but from the 7th tee onwards, Tralee is simply stunning.
7 and 8 take you back along the coastline and after climbing towards the clubhouse as you make your way up the 9th (time to stock up on drinks, snacks etc), the back nine beckons...this is the best part of the course and once you’ve played it you simply have to agree with Arnold Palmer’s assertion that while he designed the front nine, “surely God designed the back nine”.
As you make your way through the giant dunes along the Tralee coastline, you think to yourself, “surely this can’t get any better?”, but every time you emerge on the tee of the next hole, you’re bowled over by a new exciting test of golf put in front of you and the views that come with it. I took almost as many pictures as I hit shots...it’s that good!
I have been lucky enough to tick off a fair few bucketlist
courses (Turnberry, Gleneagles, European Club etc, etc...) in my time as a YGT
employee but I’d go so far as to say Tralee is the best I’ve ever played. If not the best then it's certainly now my favourite course and I can’t
wait to go back. If I could give this place 6 stars I would.