The Southwest Places




Ballybunion Golf Club. President Bill Clinton will be eternally associated in Irish golfers' minds with this revered course. In fact, there's even a brass statue of him teeing off in the nearby village, to commemorate his visit here in 1999. On the shore of the Atlantic next to the southern entrance of the Shannon, Ballybunion has the huge dunes of Lahinch without the blind shots. It's no pushover, but every hole is pleasurable. Watch out for "Mrs. Simpson," a double fairway bunker on the 1st hole, named after the wife of Tom Simpson, the architect who remodeled the course in 1937. (Tom Watson did the same in 1995.) The Cashen Course, which opened in 1985, was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and currently is free to play if you've paid for a round on the Old Course. Sandhill Rd., Ballybunion, Co. Kerry. 068/27146. Fees: May–Sept., €180 (Old), €65 (Cashen), €180 to play both on same day; Oct.–Apr. €95 (Old), €50 (Cashen). 36 holes. Yardage: 6,568 (Old), 6,306 (Cashen). Par 72 (Old), 70 (Cashen). Practice area, driving range, caddies, caddy carts, club rental, catering. Visitors: weekdays.

Tralee Golf Club. Tralee is what all modern-golf-course architects wish they could do in the States: find unspoiled, seaside links and route a course on it that's designed for the modern game. This is an Arnold Palmer–Ed Seay design that opened in 1984, and the location is fantastic—cliffs, craters, dunes, and the gale-blowing ocean. Don't let the flat front 9 lull you to sleep—the back 9 can be a ferocious wake-up call. West Barrow, Ardfert, Co. Kerry. 066/713–6379. Fees: May–Oct. €170; Apr. and Oct. €80; Nov.–Mar. €50. 18 holes. Yardage: 6,975. Par 72. Practice area, putting green, caddies, caddy carts, club rental, catering. Visitors: Mon., Tues., and Thurs.–Sat.

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