One of the great moments in golf for me was to stay and play at Waterville in Southern Ireland. I had met a neighbor back in 1995 when we first moved to the States, and one evening we happened to be at his house for dinner when I noticed a couple of pictures of a golf course. I asked about them and he (Dick L ) replied they were pictures of a golf course in Ireland. Only later did I learn they were pictures of HIS golf course! He is the majority owner of the place.
Anyway, fast forward a few years and I happened to mention I was going to be in Ireland, and he insisted I play the course. He got his assistant to arrange everything. It was amazing. I flew in to Shannon and was picked up by this fellow. This was at 7am. We drove for about 3 hours to Tralee and had lunch. Then we played Tralee - magnificent.
We drove the rest of the way to Waterville House, also owned by the Club. I realized the guy must have left Waterville around 2am to go get me. In typical style, he said I was not to bother as it was his day off! That evening, I had dinner and then played another 9 holes until midnight - such are the long days of sunlight in Ireland.
I was fortunate enough to get back to Waterville twice, in September 2012 and 2013. Both times as part of Dick's member guest. He took care of everything. An amazing fellow. A great golfer. And a wonderful family.
This is the club's wesite:
Here's a little bit of recent history about the place:
TODAY'S WATERVILLE EXPERIENCE
In 1987, Waterville was sold to a small group of Irish Americans. They loved the game of golf and set about carrying on the history and tradition of the Links. The new owners brought together the 18th Century, four star Waterville House with the Links to create one of the finest golf and fishing resorts in the world. The private Waterville House fishery, and in particular Butlers Pool next to the House, are famous for salmon and sea trout.
WATERVILLE'S NEW CHAPTER
Waterville Golf Links embarked on a new chapter of its fabled history when noted international golf architect, Tom Fazio, was commissioned to update the memorable Eddie Hackett masterpiece. Fazio has assisted many of the world's leading clubs including Winged Foot, Pine Valley and Augusta National.
The Fazio Renovation and an ongoing Coastal Management Program focused on the entire Links and its perimeter. A Fazio designed practice facility was added to the Estate grounds and a state of the art health facility was added for the enjoyment of House guests. All these projects will ensure Waterville's future reputation as Ireland's premier golf destination.
WHERE CHAMPIONS TREAD
Over forty of the world’s greatest champions from Sam Snead onwards have challenged the Links over the years. Prior to the 1998 Open, O'Meara, Stewart and Woods were joined by Appleby, Duval and Jansen, all of whom became members of Waterville.
Later that year at a ceremony during the now famous Ryder Cup in Brookline, Massachusetts, United States team member Payne Stewart accepted the Captaincy of Waterville – the last golf honour he would receive before his tragic death. Today, a life sized bronze statue pays tribute to his Captaincy and his special relationship with Waterville.
The golf course is just on the edge of town, and one of the treats is to stay at Waterville House. Here are a couple of pictures taken in 2012 and 2013.
The house is just magnificent, and the staff are terrific. Huge breakfasts, comfortable rooms and excellent lounging areas. An easy 15 minute walk to the local town's pubs.
I also enjoyed the following places in Waterville:
DOOLEY'S Phone: 353 66 9478766
Dooley's Restaurant offers a choice of top quality beef and is one of the few restaurants in Ireland offering Grade A dry-aged steaks. The seafood is caught daily ensuring top quality crab meat, lobster, oysters, cod and their famous Monkfish.
SMUGGLERS INN Phone: 353 66 9474330
The Gourmet Restaurant is world famous for its seafood and shellfish delicacies. In addition to its seafood, the Smugglers Inn also serves a variety of delicious snacks.
FISHERMAN'S BAR & RESTAURANT Phone: 353 66 9474144
The restaurant has two red Rosettes for excellent cuisine, offers a varied menu, specializing in a variety of fresh seafood complemented by an excellent wine list.
Here are some pictures of the golf course: The second pic is of Dick, Tim T, Kevin K and me.
I am pleased with these pictures, but they really don't do justice to this superb setting. Here’s a short video…
One of the highlights for me at Waterville was sitting next to Liam Higgins, the club pro at dinner during one of the member guests i was fortunate to play.
Liam is a real character. This is from Wikipedia:
Liam Higgins (born 13 November 1942) is an Irish professional golfer. He won the 1977 Kerrygold International Classic, a European Tour event, at his home club, Waterville Golf Links. After reaching 50, he had a successful senior career, winning three times on the European Seniors Tour and being runner-up a further five times.
Higgins set a world long-drive record in 1984, hitting a ball 634 yards on the runway at Baldonnel Military Airport in Dublin.
He really could hit the golf ball a long way, and one of the holes at Waterville is named Liam's Ace as he holed out from the tee. The hole is the number 16, just 386 yards from the back tee!