Waterville Golf Links, Waterville, Co Kerry
Golf at Waterville is a mystical experience – the beauty of classic links land, surrounded by the sea, yet forever challenged and shaped by the elements. Over 100 years old, Waterville is rated among the top 5 courses in Ireland and the top 20 links courses in the world.
Links golf combines sand dunes gorse and native grasses, firm fairways, sod faced bunkers and subtle putting surfaces all intertwined by the ever changing weather.
Forget the lob wedge. Think bump and run and creative shot making. Are you ready to walk in the footsteps of Irelands earliest golfers?
Waterville and Ballinskelligs Bay play an important part in the mythology of ancient Ireland. According to the “Book of Invasions” written about 1000 AD, Cessair, the granddaughter of Noah, landed in Ballinskelligs Bay and became Ireland’s first invader. Here too, the last of the mythical invaders, the Milesians, settled in 700 BC and reportedly left behind many of the archaeological sites found in the area. These rich legends, along with the earliest memories of Kerry history, combine to form a mystical aura that visitors to Waterville can sense even today. No area captures this feeling more than the sand hills and strand that border Ballinskelligs Bay and form the present day Waterville Golf Links.
The early spread of golf in Ireland owed much to the influence of the forces of the British Empire. Wherever there was a garrison, there was also a golf course, it seemed. Golf at Waterville on the other hand was introduced through technology by the men who arrived here to work the first transAtlantic cable relaying messages between North America and Europe. They came first to nearby Valentia Island in the 1860’s, then to Ballinskelligs in the 1870’s, and finally to Waterville in 1880’s. Hundreds of technicians and workers arrived in these remote areas to build and man the Cable Stations, and it was inevitable that they should turn to sport and recreation. Golf was part of this agenda but it was of the crudest kind and generally played in winter when the grasses died down.
The earliest structured golf at Waterville has been tracked back to 1889 when it came under the umbrella of the extremely active Waterville Athletic Club. It was a formalised part of the life of the village by 1900, when becoming one of the first clubs to be affiliated with the Golfing Union of Ireland. A modest nine-hole layout occupying for the most part the flat eastern section of the present championship links, it was operated by the Athletic Club for, and on behalf of, the Commercial Cable Company. Over the next fifty years the club membership fluctuated with the demand for cable communication, however in the 1950’s more advanced technology replaced this demand and ultimately the club ceased to exist.
The Links lay dormant throughout the 1960’s waiting the arrival of the Irish born American, John A. Mulcahy who had a vision to build the most testing golf links in the world. Ireland’s foremost links architect, Eddie Hackett, joined Mulcahy and his close friend Claude Harmon, a past Masters champion and head professional at Winged Foot Golf Club and between them designed a course fit to be ranked among the best. The terrain was ideal, and after exhaustive planning and work, the course and its new clubhouse opened in 1973. The original nine holes were reconfigured and expanded to create today’s front nine. Its layout was designed as a contrast to the more rugged and exposed back nine, yet it quickly introduces the player to the complexity and beauty of links golf. The testing begins early at Waterville with the first hole named “Last Easy”, and ends with the challenging and scenic “O’Gradys Beach”. The course can be stretched to over 7,300 yards but players should not be intimidated as several tees come in to play on every hole so all standards of golfers can enjoy a game here.During the next 15 years under the leadership of John A. Mulcahy and its famous long driving professional Liam Higgins, Waterville enjoyed great popularity
|A Tribute to Payne Stewart|
Numerous professional tournaments were played, and over forty of the world’s greatest champions from Sam Snead to Nick Faldo experienced the Links.
In 1987 Waterville was sold to a small group of Irish Americans. They loved the game of golf and set about carrying on the history and tradition of the Links. The Links combined with Waterville House, the Directors 18th century four star residence to create one of the finest golf and fishing resorts in the world. The Waterville Fishery, and in particular Butlers Pool next to the House, are famous for salmon and sea trout.
Great champions continue to find their way to Waterville – Els, Furyk, O’Meara, Stewart and Woods to prepare for the 1998 British Open which was then won by Mark O’Meara. Prior to the 1999 Open O’Meara, Stewart and Woods were joined by Appleby, Duval and Jansen, all of which became members of Waterville. Later that year at a ceremony during the now famous Ryder Cup in Brookline Massachusetts, United States team member Payne Stewart accepted the Captaincy of Waterville – the last golf honour he would receive before his tragic death. Today a life sized bronze statue pays tribute to his Captaincy and his special relationship with Waterville.
Waterville Golf Links embarked on a new chapter of its fabled history when noted international golf architect Tom Fazio was commissioned to update the memorable Eddie Hackett masterpiece. Fazio has assisted many of the worlds leading clubs including Winged Foot, Pine Valley and Augusta National. “Everything about Waterville is truly spectacular, said Fazio.” “The setting is one of the best I have seen for golf.”
The Fazio project will proceed in concert with a major coastal protection programme and will be completed in 2006 without interruption of regular season play. (see changes) In addition, Waterville House is undergoing its own renovation highlighted by a Fazio designed practice facility, a state of the art health facility and enhancements to the latest angling assets. These projects will insure Watervilles future and reputation as Irelands premier golf destination.
Waterville Golf Links
Waterville, Co. Kerry, Ireland
United States – When calling from the USA
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