Killarney Golf Club, Killeen Course
Designer: Dr. Billy O'Sullivan, Eddie Hackett
Championship Length: 7,121 yards
SSS (Course Rating): 73
Situated in area known as "Heaven's Reflex", due to its outstanding beauty, Killarney Golf Club comprises three top class parkland layouts the Killeen Course, Mahony's Point and most recently, Lackabane. It is the Killeen Course however (closely followed by Mahony's Point) that is perceived to be the jewel in the Killarney golfing crown. Nestled amidst the splendour of the Lakes of Killarney in the shadow of the majestic Macgillycuddy's Reeks mountain range, the Killeen Course is consistently rated amongst the world's top courses and has hosted many major championships including the 1991 & 1992 Irish Open Golf Championship, won on both occasions by Nick Faldo; and also the 1996 Curtis Cup.
While golf has been played in Killarney since 1891 (originally on a nine hole layout known as the Deer Park), the first 18 hole golf course at Killarney, which was designed by Sir Guy Campbell and Henry Longhurst, did not open for play until October 1939. Essentially this design comprises most of today's Mahony's Point course, while the Killeen Course, designed by Billy O'Sullivan and renowned Irish course architect Eddie Hackett, opened in 1971. The merits of the original design at Killarney were quickly recognised by the Golfing Union of Ireland and in 1949, the Irish Amateur Championship was played here for the first time. The first of two of two professional events played over the original course was won by Eric Browne and is also remembered as the first tournament appearance outside of South Africa by Gary Player, who despite his failure to make the cut, rated the 8th hole (now the 13th on the Killeen Course) as "potentially one of the world's greatest inland golf holes".
The Irish Tourist Board funded the second eighteen holes at Killarney and they largely comprise what is now the Killeen Course, although some of the original holes of Mahony's Point were integrated into the Killeen layout and some of the new holes were incorporated into the layout of Mahony's Point. What remains however, are two of Ireland's finest parkland courses in a stunningly scenic setting. 1999 saw the opening of the Lackabane course, which itself is a tremendous test and well worth playing, though it does need a few years to settle down and mature. The challenge and setting of Killarney's golf courses have inspired many comments, including that by Henry Longhurst who indicated that "only a man devoid of a soul could apply his mind to playing golf at Killarney", while Gene Sarazen (on Mahony's Point) insisted: "When the wind blows in off the lake, even the best player in the world will be hard pressed to break eighty. The 18th hole in particular, is one of the most memorable holes in golf".
After the rough and tumble challenge of southwestern Ireland's great links courses, Killarney provides a somewhat welcome respite, though not necessarily an easier option. Superb holes abound on both the Killeen Course and Mahony's Point. One of the most memorable holes at Mahony's Point is the par five 13th, which though of modest length, requires an excellent tee shot in order to attempt to make the well protected green in two strokes. The closing holes here are among the finest anywhere, while the par three, 18th is truly superb and requires a shot over Lough Leane to a bunkered green. Among the finest holes on the Killeen Course are the par three's at holes 3 and 6 and also the closing two holes, particularly the 18th, which requires a drive from a raised tee and an approach over water to the green.