2013 Golf Getaway in Southwest Ireland

A great long weekend on the auld sod: There are many old golf courses and more than a few great ones in Ireland, but you can count on one hand the number that are both old and great. Southwest Ireland has two of them, not to mention a “new” course that is

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Tralee by the Sea

TTralee Golf Clubhe biggest problem you’ll face when playing Tralee Golf Club is keeping your mind on the game. The Arnold Palmer design in County Kerry not only has a succession of excellent holes, but every one of them has a full view of the Atlantic. Many also have fascinating stories and features—like the 12th-century Norman tower behind the third green; or the sandstone boulder between the fourth and fifth fairways, allegedly hurled there by Cuchulain, one of the great heroes of Irish mythology—to go along with the views. Plus the smugglers’ harbor behind the seventh tee box, the shoreline behind the 16th green where a ship from the Spanish Armada ran aground in 1588, and the beach along the second hole where scenes for the 1970 epic movie Ryan’s Daughter were filmed.

But pay attention! You’re there for golf, right? You won’t be disappointed. Tralee presents a fabulous links golf experience. The front nine is fun, and the back nine is simply spectacular with a parade of dramatic holes that equal the best you’ll find anywhere in the world. In a country noted for great golf, Tralee should be at the top of your must-play list. A round at Tralee calls for strength, length, accuracy, and touch, not to mention a bit of luck and a sense of humor capable of taking the funny bounces of links golf in stride.

The par 3s on the back side are particularly exciting. The 13th is only 159 yards, but it’s all carry to a shallow green and generally plays with a left-to-right wind that makes club selection and aim a test of nerves. The 16th, known as “Shipwreck,” plays toward the ocean in a setting as dramatic as you’ll find on California’s Monterey Peninsula. The tee shot must carry 185 yards over a yawning canyon in the dunes, and the pin can be as deep as 216 yards onto the two-tiered green.

The finishing hole at Tralee, a 486-yard par 5, gives you an excellent chance to close out your round with a birdie, which is always a nice touch. You’ll need to be accurate, though, especially off the tee, since there are 13 bunkers waiting to add a stroke or two.

Tralee plays par 72 at 6,991 yards from the championship tees. It’s a good idea to consider playing the forward tees, though, because the golf is just as good and the views are still excellent.

Greens fee: €170 ($229), traleegolfclub.com

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