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Kerry gold; TREVOR PEAKE'S ON COURSE FOR A GREAT GOLFING HOLIDAY IN THE BEAUTIFUL SOUTH WEST OF IRELAND.

ADRIVE round the spectacular 100-plus miles of the fabled Ring of Kerry was a nice bonus to a golf trip to the south west of Ireland, where we played links courses Waterville and Dooks, and two parkland tracks Killeen and Mahony's Point at the delightfully named Killarney Golf and Fishing Club.

The club stands on Lake Leane, in the shadow of the high rugged mountains of McGillycuddy Reeks, which provide a breathtaking backdrop on virtually every hole on both courses.

The bustling town of Killarney is the focal point for this part of Ireland and is packed with hotels and B&Bs to suit all possible tastes and pockets.

There are oodles of restaurants and dozens of pubs, from many of which emanates traditional Irish music to warm the cockles of any tourist's heart. We dined at four of Killarney's many restaurants and all produced excellent fare. Hosts at Rozzer's Restaurant (rozzers.com) at Killeen House Hotel, which caters specially for golfers, are Michael and Geraldine Rosney, plus Hannigan's in the centre of town at the International Hotel (killarneyinternational.

com). In nearby New Street is Chapter Forty (chapter40.ie) and in Cathedral Place overlooking the impressive Killarney Cathedral is The West End House( westendhouse.

. A two and from at Killeen Aer ex-one-com) The perfect way to see the town is by Jaunting Car, a horsedrawn carriage complete with driver who has usually been well touched by the famous Blarney Stone, located not too far away near Cork. We stayed in Killarney's luxurious Brehon and Angsana Spa, rated Ireland highest four-star hotel by Failte Ireland.

But we were there mainly to play golf and could there be a better way to start than at Waterville on a spit of land flanked by the Atlantic on one side and the River Inny estuary on the other, a drive of around 50 miles from Killarney along the first part of the Ring of Kerry.

Brehon com), of golf courses. flights pounds 31 to do The game has been played at Waterville since 1889 when it was built as a nine hole layout by engineers working on three transatlantic telegraph cables in the area who needed something to fill their leisure time.

The club wasn't extended to 18 holes hn rion until 1968 when Irish American owner Joh A Mulcahy employed renowned course architect Eddie Hackett and 1948 Masters champion Claude Harmon to resurrect it. The new Waterville gained such a reputat that by the late nineties top American pla ers Tiger Woods, Mark O'Meara, Ernie Els and Payne Stewart were using it as a stopping off point prior to playing the Open Championship.

ay--Outside the clubhouse there's a life-size bronze statue of the late former US Open champion Stewart, who was tragically kill in a plane crash in 1999, having just accep the captaincy of the club. ed nled pted d In 2002 a decision to change the fabled links was made by the owners and links superintendent Mike Murphy and archite Tom Fazio's improvements have added ev more drama to the 7,355 yard layout that w already spectacular.

ect ven was What you are letting yourself in for at Waterville comes on the 430 yard par four first hole, which is entitled Last Easy, and it just gets better and better as you go along, with several holes affording glorious panoramic views of the nearby almost deserted beaches. Fortunately the weather was superb when we played it with just a fresh breeze which made for one of the finest days golf I've ever enjoyed, helped in no small part by the fact that I parred nine of the 18 holes - a rarity for me.

My suspect putting was on song at Waterville but back to normal a couple of days later at Dooks, both courses boasting huge undulating greens in outstanding condition. Dooks lies 30 miles back down the coast towards Killarney lies another absolute gem of a links, described by Ireland's former European Tour player Ronan Rafferty as "One of the best kept secrets in Irish golf."

Also first established in 1889 as a nine hole course by officers of the Royal Horse Artillery stationed at nearby Glenbeigh, it was extended to 18 in 1970 and, like at Waterville, a regeneration project was undertaken in 2002 led by architect Martin Hawtree, who redesigned 16 of the holes. Now measuring 6,586 yards it has a par of 71 with two par three and two par fives on the front nine, then a par five tenth, par threes at the 11th and 13th before finishing with a run of six testing par fours.

Sitting at the head of Dingle Bay it has a great vista over the Dingle Peninsular with mountains soaring high in every direction - a truly magical location. Dooks emblem is a natterjack toad, as the course is home to a thriving colony, and to encourage the survival of this rare species two ponds have been built within the course.

There are no ponds on the Killeen and Mahony's Point courses at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club but huge Lough Leane is there to snaffle any errant shots on several holes on both lay outs. The Killeen, host to the Irish Open in 1991 and 1992 when Nick Faldo claimed two successive victories and again in 2010, when Ross Fisher won, and last year when Simon Dyson prevailed, is the longer of the two at 6,590 yards from the back tees, with Mahoney's Point measuring 6,164.

Both are high quality parkland courses, although we weren't blessed with the best of weather when we played, in fact on the day we played Killeen it was blowing a hooley and rained on and off throughout.

But that couldn't detract from the excellence of the course and the hospitality in the splendid clubhouse, a feature at all three of the clubs we had the pleasure of playing at on a memorable trip.

Atlantic TRAVEL INFORMATION ? A two night B&B break at Brehon and Angsana Spa (thebrehon.com), from E320pp, includes a round of golf at Killeen or Waterville golf courses.

Aer Lingus (aerlingus.com) flights ex-Manchester to Cork from pounds 31 one-way.. More on what to do at killarney.ie or discoverireland.ie The

CAPTION(S):

In the swing: The spectacular par 3 18th hole at Mahony's Point (main picture) amd (left, top to bottom) the par 3 3rd at Killeen, Waterville House, the 16th at Waterville and the first hole at Dooks
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Aug 18, 2012
Words:1084
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