Tralee Golf Club

Tralee Golf Club | Top 100 Golf Courses in GB & Ireland

Situated on the rugged Atlantic coast of Ireland's south west, Tralee Golf Club features towering dunes, undulating fairways, punishing rough and cliff top tees and greens.

It was the first European golf course designed by Arnold Palmer, this stunning setting represents a true paradise for those willing to challenge what is widely acclaimed as one of the finest links courses in the world.

The course takes full advantage of its coastal location, with holes that wind through towering dunes, alongside pristine beaches, and over undulating fairways. The unique layout seamlessly integrates with the wild landscape, providing golfers with an exhilarating and visually stunning journey.

Tralee Golf Course stands as a testament to Arnold Palmer's architectural prowess and the raw beauty of the Irish coastline, making it a must-play destination for golf enthusiasts seeking both a challenging round and a scenic journey through nature's grandeur.

Visit Tralee's website here.
Go back to the NCG Top 100 Great Britain & Ireland list.

A Brief History of Tralee Golf Club

Tralee Golf Club was founded in 1896. Tralee Golf Club was founded in 1896, making it one of Ireland's earliest golf clubs. Its first course was located in the West Barrow area, with a nine-hole layout. However, this initial course faced challenges and was ultimately abandoned. 

The current course, as it's known today, was designed by the legendary Arnold Palmer and opened in 1984. Palmer's design brought a new level of prestige and recognition to the club. Palmer's design brilliantly integrated the existing terrain, offering golfers a challenging yet visually stunning links-style course with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Tralee Golf Course has hosted various notable golfing events over the years. It has been a venue for numerous amateur championships and international competitions, attracting golfers from around the world to see one of the best golf courses in Ireland. 

To maintain its high standards and enhance the golfing experience, Tralee Golf Course has undergone continuous improvements and renovations. These efforts ensure that the course remains both challenging and enjoyable for players of all skill levels.

Tralee Golf Club Review | NCG Top 100s

Like Ireland itself, Tralee is a beguiling mixture of ancient and modern. Located in, and known locally as, Barrow, some 15 minutes away from the town of Tralee, it was from here that Brendan the Navigator is said to have set sail for America a thousand years before Columbus. 

The large sandstone rock adjacent to the 4th fairway was hurled there from the mountains by the mythical giant Cuchullain, according to legend, and so is called Cuchulian's Table.
While the short 7th, by the water, is known as Randy, a contraction of the word rendezvous, because the bay below was a known haven for smugglers. 

Yet the golf course has been here for only a quarter of century, designed by Arnold Palmer, his first foray into architecture in the British Isles, and the gorgeous beach beside the 17th fairway was chosen as the backdrop for several scenes in the award-winning film, Ryan's Daughter.
Myth and legend, the past and present, and fact and sometimes fanciful but delightful fictions are all present here. Remarkably, this is the fourth site of Tralee Golf Club, which dates back to 1896. This is a corner of Ireland especially susceptible to wet and stormy weather and previous locations have been flooded for months on end, rendering winter golf all but impossible.

By moving away from the bay, the club is now situated next to the sea but on headlands atop cliffs. So while this is certainly seaside golf, played amid turbulent dunes and violently uneven land for much of the back nine, it is not a links in the sense of being at ground level. It is a course that can be split into two distinct sections: the first 11 holes and the last make up one portion, and the stretch in between the other.

Tralee's second enormous par 5 is the 11th, which is uphill all the way and so can lay more like 900 yards than its stated 595 (from the tips) when into the wind.

There are shades of Nefyn, the North Wales spectacular, in Tralee's style, although the holes are surely of a consistently higher standard here. We begin on largely flat reclaimed pasture land, though Palmer wastes no time in sweeping us down towards the sea.
The 2nd, a par 5, is unforgettable. Played round an inlet, from the tee the green is clearly visible and seems almost within reach of a Herculean drive in a tailwind. This is, of course, an illusion and by the time the green is reached the best part of 600 yards will have been covered. The temptation throughout is to hug the right-hand side but will the whole of Ireland to the left, this is hardly sensible.
At the short 3rd you must aim across the rocks towards what is believed to be a 13th-century tower before moving inland for the following trio of par 4s. The pace quickens again with the par-3 7th, the tee little more than a tongue of turf above an inlet and the green little more than 150 yards away.
At the next hole you must put faith in your driving and hit towards what seems a barely existent fairway that hugs the cliffs towards a distant green. Tralee's second enormous par 5 is the 11th, which is uphill all the way and so can lay more like 900 yards than its stated 595 (from the tips) when into the wind.
But if you thought that was hard, wait until you encounter the next, which is where Tralee plunges into golf of an altogether more dramatic nature. According to those who know the course well, it is actually easier to score on the shorter back nine than it is the front, but to the first-time visitor the vistas are so emasculating, so intimidating with their forced carries, that this can be hard to believe.

The 12th is rated stroke one, and few would dispute it. At 460 yards, the tee shot is dramatically downhill. The real challenge comes with the second shot, which offers precisely no bail-out and a target that seems improbably small from a couple of hundred yards out.
Next is another superlative short hole - Tralee has one of the most dramatic collection of par 3s you will find anywhere - played across a chasm to a table-top green and then comes the split-fairway 14th, another head-scratching exercise for those unfamiliar with the course.
A short 4 offers the chance of a birdie if it is not too windy and you have maintained composure but few are thinking of a two when standing on the 16th tee. It really is green or nothing, with the target the best part of 200 yards away and seemingly clinging on to the very edge of the cliffs. This is followed by another shortish 4 where the wise golfer will play well left to set up a (hopefully) short iron to the large, flat green above.
The final hole is a long, uphill par 4, and after completing it, you will surely be in need of sustenance, refreshment and reflection. The outstanding clubhouse will help you in areas and give you chance to catch your breath and collect your thoughts on an amazing four hours or so that has gone before.

What is the green fee for playing at Tralee Golf Club?

In the high season (1st May - 6th October), the price to play at Tralee is €275/£235.50 and in the mid season (April), the price is €180/£154.

Are there practice facilities and a clubhouse for golfers at Tralee Golf Club?

Yes, there is a designated practice area at Tralee Golf Club with yardage markers. The club also has a 9-hole putting green so golfers can warm up before a round. Furthermore, the golf club offers a 300 yard driving range with strategic targets.

Can non-members play at Tralee Golf Club, or is it exclusive to members?

Although Tralee is a members club, they welcome visitors to play on their course. Visitors are expected to follow the terms of the club, as are members.

Visit Tralee's website here.
Go back to the NCG Top 100 Great Britain & Ireland list.