Golf at Waterville Links commenced in 1973 in a gorgeous location on the main Ring of Kerry road looking out over Waterville Beach and Ballinskelligs Bay. The original course was funded by John A Mulcahy and designed by Eddie Hackett and a wonderful job they both did. I have played it every year since then, my, that’s 44 years and yes I have already played a round this year on 5th of January in the company of Michael Bruen son of one of Ireland’s greatest ever golfers Jimmy. As you can see from the photo Michael is no mean player himself as he launches a big one down (the middle of) the 18th fairway.
I drove into Waterville last weekend to see how progress was going on the new course that is being built on the easterly side of Waterville by an American company, on the site that was formerly the Skellig Bay Golf Club. This new golf course is due to open this summer and the photo I took last Sunday shows great progress on the clubhouse and practice green below it.
I have watched with fascination the construction of the course since early last year and have never ceased to be amazed at the high quality work that has been undertaken. From the mounds of sand the height of a three story building, which is now spread over the site to improve drainage, to the purchasing of the land on the easterly side just below Lohar Church to creating the new golfing land with great views of Ballinskelligs Bay, no money has been spared. This photo was taken 13th July 2016
Last summer it was all brown reshaped land being seeded. Now it is a fantastic looking golf course and whilst it will not be links as the cliffs are high above the sea so the sand from the nearby beach will not quite reach it. The new course will I feel be an incredible addition to golf at Waterville and indeed will attract many valuable golfing tourists to Ireland. This photo was taken 5th of January 2017
To say I am impressed by what I saw as the course was being constructed, would be an understatement. One event stands out. It was probably last September and it was a horribly wet day. We were having lunch in the splendid Smugglers Restaurant that overlooks Waterville beach and the 18th hole at Waterville and I remember looking at the unfortunate golfers struggling with the elements as the rain bucketed down. After lunch we drove alongside the new golf course and I could see water flowing off the course in various places.
I remember when I got involved with some golfing friends in building Faithlegg Golf Club in Waterford many years ago, there were two events that stood out. The first was when we had the entire course reshaped and reseeded and we were waiting for the grass seeds to spark and the grass to grow. I remember touching the ground in October of that year with my hand to see if the grass was coming through and the excitement when I did feel it. The second was when the rains came and we saw how the newly reshaped land was draining and where we needed to re-drain the land accordingly.
Two days after the heavy rain fell that day in Waterville the course contractors had two helicopters flying over the entire course to see what was happening with the drainage and naturally then to fix any spots that needed it. Now why didn’t we think of that at Faithlegg!
To finish my story on Waterville last weekend. When we were looking at the new clubhouse under construction last Sunday I looked across towards Waterville House just across the river, where I could see a man was fishing in what used to be called The Butler Pool where the lake waters flow into Ballinskelligs Bay and I saw him running to the house for a net. There must be a fish in the river I thought, and sure enough as we drove across the river towards Waterville a few moments later I could see he had a fish on the line.
F0r me, a so called fisherman, there is nothing as exciting as seeing a salmon being played and landed. It looked like a big fish as it took the fisherman some time to get him into his net.
The big salmon in hand about to be released carefully back into the river.
Well done Kevin O Shea the long-time excellent starter on Waterville Links it was wonderful to watch you in action.
And so Waterville you are starting a new chapter. During this year you will have two of Ireland’s great golf courses situated east and west of your village in play. It gives the village industries, hotels, restaurants, shops and other associated businesses the incredible opportunity to get their visiting golfers to stay a few nights and a few days in Waterville as they sample the golfing, fishing and other delights of the village. Up to now golfers in particular have been staying in Killarney and only visiting Waterville Golf Club by day. Waterville make sure you market yourselves well……you now have a super chance to transform your tourism business. Best of luck.
Ted Dwyer Family Business