BALLYFERRITER occupies a remote but very special and historic corner of Kerry. The scenery is breathtaking – Sybil Head, Brandon Mountain, the Blasket Islands, Slea Head, the Pilgrims’ Way – are all very special ingredients in a unique and dramatic landscape, writes Alan Hedley.
And in it sits a golf course. Not just an ordinary golf course because this is the most westerly course in Ireland and therefore Europe.
Brexit matters not because golfers will still play golf and they will still make the journey to Ballyferriter to play Dingle Links, a course as beautiful as its setting.
Each hole sits in the natural landscape of one of the most unspoiled parts of Ireland and it’s probably to only links course where all 18 greens can be seen from the clubhouse.
What can also be seen is a winding burn that twists and turns through the entire course and which I was able to view a very close quarters more than once.
This is real links golf. Every hole is full of undulations and swales and the magnificent panorama of Dingle Peninsula is on view with small secluded inlets, hills and mountains and the great Blasket Islands out in the wild Atlantic.
If I had to pick out one hole on this 6,680 yard lay-out, it would be the ninth where a good drive over the burn is needed to set up a long iron (or more) to a wicked raised green, but watch out for the par threes – the second is 227 yards, the fifth 202 yards (alongside water), the ninth is 197 yards (with out of bounds left) and only the 12th is relatively short at 161 yards.
Beaufort’s parkland course (above) is a complete contrast, nestled as it is amongst 200-year-old trees, a 15th Century castle ruins, lakes and rolling meadows and surrounded by the MacGillycuddy Reeks. There has been significant upgrading to Beaufort recently, including the addition of lakes, fairway bunkers, irrigation systems and mounds.
Seven miles from Killarney, Beaufort nestles at the base of Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntoohil, part of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and at 7,004 yards off the back, it ain’t short.
The front nine holes are relatively secluded and amble between mature trees and gorse on generous undulating fairways with the pick of them the 187 yard par three eighth where the tee shot is played from a small copse to a well-protected green.
The back nine are good for scoring if you avoid the big bunkers and judge the pace on the multi-tiered greens with the par five 12th an excellent hole wending its way along a shaded valley while a real feature is the ruins of Castle Core.
Another feature is the excellent welcoming clubhouse, restaurant and golf shop ably managed by Helen Clifford.
Killarney captures everything you’d want from your golf club – wonderful lake and mountain views make for a spectacular backdrop to one of the world’s most renowned golf courses.
The lake views on the first four holes of the Killeen course (pictured above) will almost make you forget how dangerous they are and there is the spectacular par three 10th virtually playing on to the lake.
It’s long at 7,000 yards but there are three tees on each hole so it is eminently playable as is the second course Mahoney’s Point which has a truly spectacular finishing hole which more than matches the closing stretch and the 18th on the Killeen where there’s more water.
There is also a third course Lackabane, which hosted the Irish Ladies Open Championship in 2002, and which is undergoing redevelopment.
There was just time on the way back to Dublin to take in nine holes at Killorglin an 18 hole parkland course of just under 6,500 yards and what a welcome we were given.
The course is in the shadow of the majestic Macgillicuddy Reeks and on the other side it enjoys magnificent panoramic views of Dingle Bay and the Slieve Mish Range beyond.
This is a great driving course with excellent greens and an excellent deal on green fees – well worth a visit.
Mahoneys – challenging course with magnificent views
Alan Hedley travelled to Ireland with Irish Ferries who offer up to eight departures a day from the UK to Ireland, with a fleet of four superb ships including the only genuine fastcraft on the Irish Sea, the twin-hulled catamaran Dublin Swift.
Alan sailed on Irish Ferries flagship, Ulysses which at almost 51,000 tonnes is the largest ship on the Irish Sea and returns on the Dublin Swift
Cruise-ferry fares start at £79 each-way for a car and driver, with no extra charges for carrying golf clubs or any other baggage in the boot of the car.
Additional passengers in the same car are from £30 each way.
Irish Ferries Holidays can also package up stays at selected hotels, B&Bs and cottages to create great value self-drive golf holidays.