Tralee Golf Club Course Review

The back nine was always the star of Arnold Palmer’s magnificent creation but the latest upgrades are seeing an already good front nine seriously up its game

Tralee Golf Club
(Image credit: Evan Schiller)

The back nine was always the star of Arnold Palmer’s magnificent creation but the latest upgrades see an already good front nine seriously up its game

Tralee Golf Club Course Review

Top 100 Ranking 2021/22 - 48

Previous Rankings 2019/20 - 48 2017/18 - 49 2015/16 - 53 2013/14 - 51 2011/12 - 46 2009/10 - 37

Summer Green Fees

Round: €250

Visitor Times: Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri - 7.30am-2.30pm; Weds - 7.30am-10.30pm (not June to August); Sat - 10.30am-12:50pm

Medal Tee: Par 72 – 6,643 Yards

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Changes since previous ranking

There have been major changes to every front nine-hole except the 2nd and 3rd, with new tee complexes on seven holes. The 1st, 4th and 5th all have varying numbers of new revetted bunkers plus reshaped greens that allow more chipping options.

The 6th tee has been raised to give a better sight of the fairway, with the green complex also remodelled. The 7th has a new, smaller green closer to the water’s edge, with new mounding to hide the eighth tee boxes.

The new 8th tee and green are both now right on the shoreline, with the fairway recontoured and two new bunkers added. And the 9th has been completely changed with the fairway pushed further right, four new bunkers added and the green reshaped – it’s now long and thin with new mounding and a revetted bunker.

Tralee Golf Club Course Review

A small-town nine-hole Irish club securing Arnold Palmer’s services to create its new 18-hole layout was a remarkable coup.

Tralee Golf Club

The well-bunkered 18th and mountain backdrop beyond (Photo: Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

But the King was clearly seduced by the spectacular seaside plot high above the beach at West Barrow that Tralee Golf Club had in mind.

Related: Top 100 Courses UK and Ireland

The dream layout Palmer created in the mid-1980s mixes links and clifftop golf over two contrasting nines and is now considered one of the very best golf courses in Ireland.

Tralee Golf Club

A back nine of unending drama

That contrast will soon be a little less marked when extensive work to the front nine is completed – a nine that was previously relatively understated in comparison to a back nine that cranks up the drama level several notches.

Remodelling the front nine

The front nine is not without drama itself though, with the striking 2nd doglegging sharply around the cliff edge and the par-3 3rd set perilously close to the rocky shoreline.

Tralee Golf Club

No room for the faint-hearted on the par-3 3rd

These two holes remain untouched for now, but the remainder of the front nine is being remodelled, with the most striking change to the 8th, where both tee and green will now sit right beside the water.

The back nine is then the match of any modern links for sheer golfing excitement, from the fearsomely difficult 12th to the do-or-die par-3 13th where a gaping chasm between tee and green must be negotiated. Oh, and don’t go long either!

Tralee Golf Club

Looking out to sea across the 10th and 17th holes (Photo: Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

This most dramatic of layouts then runs along the shore for three more stirring holes from the 15th before a par-5 finale gives you just a chance of getting one back.

Tralee serves up dramatic golf on a grand scale.

Assessor Feedback

The 16th, set in the dunes with the Atlantic beyond, is one of many stand-out holes. Miss the small target right and the dunes tumbling down to beach await; miss short and the ball is gathered back down a steep slope.

Tralee is a wonderful golfing experience from start to finish, with two very different nines presenting the golfer with very different challenges.

GM Verdict

The back nine was always the star of Arnold Palmer’s magnificent creation but the latest upgrades will see an already good front nine seriously up its game.


Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and even instruction despite his own somewhat iffy swing (he knows how to do it, but just can't do it himself). He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 89 of the Next 100. He has played well over 900 courses worldwide in 35 countries, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content. On his first trip to Abu Dhabi a decade ago he foolishly asked Paul Casey what sort of a record he had around the course there. "Well, I've won it twice if that's what you mean!" came the reply...

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf