Golf in Ireland - South West Articles
The counties of Cork and Kerry occupy the South West corner of Ireland, for some the most striking corner of the Emerald Isle. It is also the inspiration for the renowned Irish folk song, Whiskey in the Jar.
Aside from its visual beauty, the South West is also a major hub for Irish tourism and the nightlife is nothing but legendary. Cork, after all, is Ireland’s third largest city (after Belfast and Dublin) and the county itself is the biggest of all the Irish counties. It is a city that is alive with cultural significance and revered around the world for its popular film and jazz festivals. And they come from far and near to catch a glimpse of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, a quite awe-inspiring stretch of landscape in County Kerry.
Golfers, however, have been coming to the South West for as long as anyone can remember, and not just for the nightlife. This part of Ireland is home to a peerless collection of links courses, namely Tralee, Waterville and Dingle. Tralee, an Arnold Palmer design, is a sumptuous links and is a short drive from Dingle, a traditional links which has the honour of being the most westerly course in Europe. Tiger Woods has been known to practice at Waterville before The Open in recent years, thus it comes as no surprise that some judge it to be one of the world’s great links.
The Old Head of Kinsale, south of Cork, is a spectacular golf course set on a 220-acre promontory that juts into the Atlantic - it should not be missed on your trip to Ireland.
Neither should a night’s stay in Killarney, a charming golf town that is Ireland’s answer to St Andrews. The town’s main course is the Killarney Golf & Fishing Club, home to three 18-hole courses, each boasting the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks as a backdrop.
One of the best courses a short drive from Cork is, indeed, Cork golf course, a parkland that was redesigned by Dr Alister Mackenzie, while on the Limerick border sits Charleville, a stunning 27-hole venue that doesn’t get the credit it deserves. To miss it is to miss out. South of Cork lies Fernhill, a relatively unknown inland venue to visitors but very popular with the locals while eastwards is European Tour venue Fota Island, former home of the Irish Open and a majestic inland experience.
Kerry may house many celebrated links, yet its collection of parkland gems is fairly impressive, with Kenmare, The Kerries and Beaufort all worthy of consideration. The oldest course in Kerry is Dooks, a delightful links that dominates the tip of Dingle Bay. With outstanding vistas from almost every vantage point, this is one of the most remarkable settings for a golf course. It is, in fact, Irish links golf in all its glory. You can’t come to the South West, however, without playing the world-famous Old Course at Ballybunion, one of the crown jewels of links golf across the water. Though not as long as some of today modern championship courses, it remains an unforgettable experience.