Although first formed within the town of Tralee in 1896, the Tralee Golf Club now plays on a course built in 1984 and situated along the Kerry coastline at nearby Barrow. Designed by Arnold Palmer and partner Ed Seay, the front nine at Tralee touches an ocean inlet and rocky shore while the back is carved from an immense dune ridge that tumbles down toward the area’s spectacular beach.
Despite this magnificent coastal setting, recommendation does come with some reservations as none of the inland golf will inspire and the early seaside holes, such as the par five 2nd which bends around the beach where parts of the film ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ were shot, are a touch awkward. Similarly the attractive 8th follows a gorgeous inlet but is spoiled by an ill-positioned dune that pinches its fairway too tightly. By contrast, the par three 3rd, played across a rocky cove, is a terrific hole but the remainder of the front side is fairly tame and it is the steep dune holes on the back nine that provide most of the excitement. The best of these is the 12th, a bruising two-shot hole that falls into a narrow landing zone and then crosses an enormous gorge to reach its plateau target. Also memorable is the three-hole beachside corner from the short par four 15th, which includes an all-or-nothing par three and an uncomfortably narrow mid-length par four that are only marginally playable. Most difficult of all, however, is the short 13th where one must cross a massive crater and then find a shallow green sliced halfway up an enormous sand dune.
There is no questioning the attraction of this piece of land but the lack of internal undulation away from the sea and the sheer size of the back nine dunes suggest the routing options here were limited and perhaps the site was not as ideal for golf as it appears.