Environmentally, Dooks Golf Club has to be one of the most natural golf courses in the world. Everything is in harmony with its surroundings – it’s a beautiful place for golf. The course is enchantingly located on a promontory on the southern side of Dingle Bay. The MacGillycuddy’s Reeks Mountains stand guard to the southeast and stretched out in the foreground to the north and west are the sandy peninsulas of Rossbehy and Inch Point. The vista is simply breathtaking.
Officers from the Royal Horse Artillery laid out a short nine-hole course in 1889 and they introduced the local gentry to the game of golf. This establishes Dooks as Kerry’s oldest golf course. It was clearly a challenge to settle on a name - initially the club was known as Caragh and Dooks, then Glenbeigh, then Dooks and Caragh and finally, they settled on plain and simple – Dooks. Around 1900, the course was extended to 18 holes, but due to escalating costs, the club soon reverted back to nine holes.
In 1963, a shockwave arrived through the Dooks letterbox. The letter was from the land agent, serving notice to hand back possession of the golf course and club. The course was laid out on leased land, but unfortunately the original lease wasn’t signed. Immediately, a “Save Dooks” campaign was launched and for the next two years the golf club was front-page news. £7000 was eventually raised and in 1965, the members became the proud owners of Dooks Golf Club.
After all the publicity, Dooks grew in popularity and soon became overwhelmed with golfers wanting to play the now famous links. Clearly, the course needed extending to 18 holes, but funds were tight. Lateral thinking was needed. After much debate, nine members volunteered to form and lead teams to construct nine new holes. In September 1970, against all odds, and inside a meagre £3000 budget, a newly extended 18-hole Dooks opened for play – designed and built by the members. The outcome is fantastic, the new holes blend perfectly with the old.
Dooks Golf Club is a tranquil, engaging and fun golf course. It also provides a true and traditional links experience. The course is not of championship length, measuring just over 6,000 yards, but don’t let this put you off. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable challenge. Beware of the toads though – the warm, sandy linksland at Dooks is home to the Natterjack, and is one of the amphibians' last remaining habitats. The club has adopted the Natterjack toad as their emblem. Don’t worry if you’re squeamish, though. These little creatures are nocturnal, emerging only when the golfers have gone home.
There are numerous memorable holes, but the 13th will remain etched in the mind for a very long time. Many of the greens are undulating, but the green of the par three 13th is the big dipper in roller-coaster terms. Dooks is certainly an inspirational golf course, a very special place. Additionally, it is also one of the most sociable and friendly golf clubs on the planet and visitors can certainly be assured of a warm and friendly Irish welcome at Dooks.
What the "Top 100 Golf Courses" has already written in their summary review about Dooks is worth repeating and expanding upon. Yes, Dooks is probably one of the most wonderfully natural links golf courses in the world, certainly in Ireland -- the play is warm, fun, easy-going and enjoyable, like spending company with an old friend you haven't seen in years. Yes, it's a beautiful place for golf, too -- not only the course itself (the land, the hole designs, the routing, recent redesigns, etc) -- but the views across Dingle Bay to the towns, fields, shores and mountains on the other side are simply breathtaking and heavenly. And yes, even the Dooks logo and mascot (a natterjack toad) are unique and memorable -- enough, that after a friendly and sincere greeting from the staff upon arrival, a round that balances the challenging with the manageable (a great course for match play, too, by the way), and a cold pint with a delicious meal in their warm clubhouse restaurant after the round -- I bought a LOT of trinkets in the pro shop, wanting to remember the amazing day for a long, long time to come. In summary, Dooks is twice the experience for half the price -- compared to most of the tracks in southwest/west Ireland. If we have the privilege and pleasure of returning to Ireland someday, Dooks will be the first reservation we make. Don D
Also on the Ring of Kerry, but much closer to Killarney, sits this previously hidden gem, which has been affected by a healthy infusion of tourist play. While still a very scenic course with a number of good holes, its charming idiosyncrasies have to stand up to a different kind of scrutiny today. The conditioning is rustic and the green surrounds often a bit too rough for putting. And the heathland holes towards the end of the round look a bit out of sorts on this seaside property. All of that is perfectly acceptable for a quirky village track, but perhaps less fitting for what Dooks is trying to represent today. Click the link to read more… Ireland – any decent golf on the West Coast?