Two years after taking on Scotland, Jeff Fought, our director of golf here at Black Butte Ranch, is on the road once again. This time Jeff is in Ireland, and we’re following along. Check back often as Jeff shares with us the joys of exploring golf on The Emerald Isle.
Day 2-4: Waterville Golf Links and Tralee Golf Club
You know it has been an incredible few days when you get a chance to play a favorite of Payne Stewart and an Arnold Palmer-designed course that The King considered one of his best. Waterville Golf Links and Tralee Golf Club are two of the most beautiful golf courses that I can imagine.
Waterville — which Stewart loved enough to buy a home nearby — is absolutely stunning. Set in a remote part of southwest Ireland between the Atlantic Ocean and Lough Currane, one of Ireland’s largest lakes, water is ever-present with mountain views off in the distance.
The course dates back to 1889, but its current shape took form in the late 1960s when famed Irish architect Eddie Hackett and 1958 Masters champion Claude Harmon collaborated to create this masterpiece. It is a great test of links golf, with gentle undulations that make every shot unique. It’s why Tour stars such as Stewart, Tiger Woods, and Mark O’Meara have all made their way to Waterville. The day we played, it was characteristically cloudy and windy, but we still could not ask for a better day.
We finally got a break in the weather at Tralee. It was close to 60 degrees and the wind calmed to about 10 miles per hour. Yes, we even got to enjoy some sun. And to be honest, I don’t know if there is a course that I would rather see under the blue sky than Tralee.
A castle ruin, incredible views, and a dramatic layout conspire to make Tralee my favorite so far. The club was founded in the late 1800s, but when Palmer created the new layout in the 1980s, I don’t think he could have done anything better. There really is nothing quite like it.