February 9, 2017
County Kerry boasts some of Ireland’s most striking landscapes as rugged seaside cliffs, vast displays of pastoral emerald-green farmland and misty mountains create breathtaking vistas. One of County Kerry’s brightest jewels is Waterville Golf Links, a visual masterpiece set on a 220-acre peninsula alongside the Atlantic.
Consistently ranked one of the best courses in Ireland, Waterville is also a favourite amongst the Carr family as they holidayed there through out the 60’s and 70’s, and it evokes great memories of the Kerry Gold Championship win back in the 1970’s.
Events executive Alison Duffin also lists Waterville as a “must-play” in Ireland noting: “The views are amazing all over the golf course.”
“A lot of golf courses’ signature holes are based around par-3s nowadays, and for me, the 17th at Waterville is the feature hole,” says Sean Benville, travel expert. “The tee shot is demanding, as is the norm for a tricky par-3, however it’s the view off the tee at ‘Mulcahy’s Peak’ that really captures the essence of Waterville Golf Links.”
While the 17th hole may be the most scenic, No. 12 holds the most historical significance. The area that course designer Eddie Hackett originally wanted to use for the par-3’s putting surface was “sacred ground,” according to Irish labourers building the course. During the days when British rule enforced a law banning the Irish from practicing Catholicism, locals used the low area protected by the dunes to perform Catholic ceremonies. Respecting the area’s history, Hackett decided to put the green atop a dune opposite the tee. For this reason, the 12th is known as the “Mass Hole.”
Another piece of significant, yet tragic, history lies in Waterville’s link to Payne Stewart. For years, the two-time U.S. Open champion played Waterville in preparation for the British Open. The Captaincy of Waterville was the last golf honour Stewart received before his untimely death in 1999. Today, a life-sized bronze statue pays tribute to Stewart and his unique relationship with Waterville.
In the mid-2000s, famed golf architect Tom Fazio was commissioned to renovate Hackett’s classic course. Completed in 2006, key features of Fazio’s renovation also included a new practice facility and a state-of-the-art health facility.
Few courses delight the senses and challenge the mind as Waterville does. And, the traditional Irish landscape combined with the true links design ensures that no two rounds will be alike.
“Waterville is a great setup for perfect links golf,” says Benville. “The final three holes are a perfect example of why links golf is so revered. No. 16 is a dogleg left par 4 and No. 18 is a straight par 5 set along the coast – depending on which way the wind blows, these two holes could not play more differently. If the wind is with you, a flick of wedge is all that’s needed for the approach on No. 16. If it’s against you, you’ll need a 6-iron. The par-5 is reachable in two with the wind, against you it’s a difficult three shots to the green.”
Waterville provides a stern challenge for golfers of all abilities. As such, it’s the perfect venue for multi-generational tournaments. Our World Invitational Father & Son and World Invitational Father & Daughter golf tournaments have been hosted on this famed track for many years and will once again be contested this upcoming summer.
For more information on tournaments, or to plan a custom luxury golf vacation to the southwest of Ireland, contact us at 1.855.617.5701 (U.S. toll free) or +353.1.822.6662.