Waterville Golf Club - Par 72 - 6,200 Yards
Waterville, Lahinch and Ballybunion Old. These three golf clubs are the most sought after courses in the southwestern region and with good reason. Waterville golf links is a pure golfing delight, 18 top quality links holes that have been made even better by the renowned American architect Tom Fazio.
Golf has been played at Waterville since the late 19th century when a trans-Atlantic cable station was built in the village. As the years passed the popularity first grew and then declined as first the cable station and then emigration decimated the population of this remote part of Ireland. The land lay fallow until the arrival of an Irish-American businessman arrived with the dream of building a championship golf course to rival the worlds best.
He engaged Eddie Hackett, Ireland's master golf designer, and Claude Harmon, a former Masters champion, to construct his dream.
In 1973 the current 18-hole championship links was opened. The course is on the shores of Ballinskelligs Bay at the estuary of the River Inny. Ballinskelligs Bay is a perfectly shaped horseshoe harbour that is mentioned as far back as 750 B.C. and is also reputed to be the site of the first Viking invader to Ireland.
The original Hackett/Harmon design expanded the original nine to a front nine in less exposed and less rugged terrain away from the coastal dunes. This front nine was in contrast to the rugged and exposed nature of the second nine that features high sand dunes and many of Watervilles best holes.
The Fazio project consists mainly of remodelling the outward half to provide more dunelike contours in keeping with the exisitng back nine. The old 6th and 7th holes have both been replaced with the 6th hole now a par-3 well protected by bunkers and a burn to the right while the new 7th is a terrific par-4, slightly doglegging to the right that requires a tee-shot played to a fairway framed by dunes and an approach into the prevailing wind to a well-protected green.
The 15th and 16th holes have also been remodelled to provide better visibility of the natural beauty of the location and improve the visibility of the fairway on the 16th hole, (Liam's Ace).
Waterville will continue to provide the visiting golfer with one of the highlights of an Irish golf trip. The course is popular with American professionals who practice for the Open the week before the tournamentt starts. Many are members of Waterville and the late Payne Stewart was honorary captain in 1999. A bronze statue of the great American golfer stands between the clubhouse and the first tee.
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The southwest golf directory contains a full listing of golf courses in the southwest of Ireland.