There are two 18-hole courses at the Killarney Golf & Fishing Club and the Killeen golf course is considered to be the best. Killarney is set in its own National Park within the famous Ring of Kerry. Here we have some of the most magical and enchanting scenery in Ireland, the Killeen course being set on the banks of Lough Leane, the largest freshwater lake in the southwest. The backcloth is the majestic Carrauntoohil, the highest mountain in Ireland, one of the many peaks of the Macgillycuddy's Reeks, and this is the most mountainous region in the Emerald Isle.
Golf at Killarney dates back to 1891, but the Killeen course is relatively young, opening for play in 1972. Eddie Hackett and Billy O’Sullivan originally designed the Killeen. It was a complicated project which involved splitting the original Mahony’s Point course in half and building nine holes on newly purchased land. David Jones updated the Killeen course ahead of the 1991 Irish Open, which was won by Nick Faldo. The Irish Open returned to the Killarney’s Killeen course in 1992 and once again Faldo triumphed.
Donald Steel undertook a complete reconstruction of the Killeen course over a fairly lengthy period, which overlapped the transition from Donald Steel & Co to Mackenzie and Ebert. The revamped Killeen course re-opened in the summer of 2006 with new greens, tees and bunkers. Extra length was also added, most notably the par fives. The Irish Open returned to the Killeen in 2010 and it was the Englishman, Ross Fisher, who won, thwarting a late surge from Padraig Harrington. Simon Dyson finished strongly to claim the 2011 Irish Open, winning by a single shot from Australia's Richard Green who had a long birdie putt on the last to win but ended up making bogey. On each of the four occasions Killarney has hosted the Irish Open an Englishman has lifted the title.
Despite the proximity of the mountains, the Killeen golf course is set on flat ground. The lake comes into play immediately and remains a hazard until the 5th hole, which turns inland. The course then plays in more traditional parkland surroundings until the 7th hole, which once again plays alongside the lake.
The tree-lined fairways appear narrower than they really are, especially from the back tees; keeping the ball in play is the order of the day. Scoring well will be a challenge for the very best golfers especially if you choose to play from the 7,000-yard plus back tees. There are three other tees available, so choose carefully to ensure the maximum enjoyment, but remember that everything is measured in metres here, so take at least one club more if you are used to yards.
The fantastic experience at Killarney is made up from many factors – the setting is breathtaking, the conditioning of the course is first class, the holes are varied and exciting and, last but not least, the Irish welcome is warm and friendly. In fact, the Irish greeting "Cead Mile Failte" was the main reason that Killarney was voted Golf Club of the Year in 1993. Surely there can be no prettier place in the whole of Ireland to play inland golf.
The Killeen course at the Killarney Golf and Fishing Club is the most beautiful inland golf course in Ireland. It sits within a national park on the famous Ring of Kerry on the largest lake in the southwest named Lough Leane with the mountains of Macgillycuddy’s Reeks as the background. It is hard to focus on the golf, particularly on the holes that are on the water that offer the best view of the lough and mountains across the way. Despite the mountains dominating the landscape on the other side of the lough, the course is flat. There is barely a rise anywhere.
Note: it was here I witnessed one of my favorite memories in golf playing the tenth hole, a par 3 looking right at the lough and the mountains, with the tee sheltered by trees to an exposed green fronted by a man-made pond which continues down the left side. I was paired with a husband and wife and he proceeded to make a hole in one. His wife, who was not playing, in her excitement proceeded to jump on him knocking him flat on his back with her falling forward on top of him. After about a minute of her slamming her fists on his chests, alternating screaming and kissing him in excitement, I began to fear for him. He eventually rose, staggered about, his sweater badly grass-stained, walked unsteadily the 150 yards to retrieve his ball from the cup. On the next hole, a short par five and a straight hole, he hit a tree immediately to his right with his tee shot, continued to hit trees on the right side and eventually scored an eleven. Such are the possibilities that the golf holes offer at Killarney Killeen.
While that is a great memory, I do have other fond thoughts of this course as well as Mahony’s Point. If I am staying in Killarney, I play both the same day as the walk is easy and the scenery so breathtaking.
The course feels a little different as you play your way around it from the lakefront holes to the inland holes, some with heavier amounts of trees and some without. It is also a little perplexing at times as to which holes they decided to add small ponds or other water features. Water comes into play on many holes, more than one might expect. It is almost as if the architect wants to constantly remind you of the lough.
Combined with the flat land and the relatively flat greens, I can see where some visitors who value more highly the “natural” courses, would have more of an issue here.
As to the Killeen course, it is the better of the two courses with the challenge beginning immediately on the first tee as the hole is hard against the water as a sharp dogleg right almost like a fish hook. The tee shot feels as though you are hitting off of a landing strip with water on both sides. The lough’s water’s edge seems to come into the fairway a bit so the bailout is definitely down the left side. After the tee shot one still has a daunting second shot. The approach shot has to consider the sand/beach fronting the right side of the green with no real room right of the green due to rocks, then water. It is one of the harder opening shots in Ireland.
Holes two-four continue with views of the water, although the second is pushed inland and does not bring the water in play as do holes one, three and four. The greens are fairly close to the water on three and four, with four feeling as if you have to hit over the water if you have a long approach shot from the right side.
The second’s tee shot goes through a narrow canyon of trees on this dogleg right so the miss is to the left. If you are a long hitter you can end up in a small grove of trees on the left side at the turn of the dogleg. The second’s green sits encircled by trees with two devious bunkers on the right side of the green.
The par 3 third hole requires you to carry the water or rocks if the pin is on the right side of the green where the green is very small. There is a little bit of room if you miss the green short as well as a bunker right side that might save you a penalty shot but might not save you a stroke. It is a nicely humped green on this hole.
The fourth hole is one of my favorites with the tee built into the lough and a tee shot requiring one to thread trees on either side ending in a green nearly in the water. After the trees end on the right side, water continues all the way to the back of the green. There is a nice bailout area to the left side of the green. It is a splendid hole.
The fifth hole is a long par four dogleg right that is rated one of the most difficult on the golf course. There is a stream on the right off the tee that does not come into play. The defense lies in the trees and the three bunkers near the green, although the left bunker is placed too far away from the green.
The sixth hole is a long par 3 with an exposed tee followed by tree lining both sides into a sheltered green. There is water fronting and down the right side. The green is relatively flat to make the hole a bit more player friendly but the fall off to the right side can send one’s ball into the water.
The seventh is one of the easier par five’s with the tee shot favoring the left side of the fairway all the way to the green. The green is fronted on the right side by a small pond. This hole lacks a bit of definition given the trees sort of disappear on the left side after one feels a bit crowded on the tee.
More water comes into play near the left side of the eight green, which is a slight double dogleg.
The ninth is a dogleg left and is well defended at the green with a large bunker fronting it. I liked the hole.
I previously mentioned the tenth and eleventh. I felt the eleventh should have had more bunkers near the green given it is not a long par 5.
The twelfth hole is slightly wider open as the trees begin to recede. It is a nice par 4 with good bunkering.
The thirteenth is the number one index both due to length of the par 4 and the stream fronting the green.
After the very difficult thirteenth, the fourteenth is a shorter par 4 with a large tree pinching in on the fairway on the right and a green situated beautifully surrounded by trees and fronted by two bunkers.
A sharper dogleg right than the first hole comes next as a long par 4. I find this to be one of the hardest holes on the golf course.
The sixteenth is a player-friendly par 5 that turns slightly left and has some bunkers near the green. I felt this hole was missing a few bunkers on the right side of the fairway and nearer the green.
The seventeenth is a fine par 4 with water in play off the tee on the right side and a nice tiered green fronted by a single deep bunker.
The finishing hole is a nice medium length par four ending right in front of the clubhouse. There is water down the left that does not really come into play until nearer the green where it cuts into the fairway but well short of the green. On the right side are three bunkers beginning about 250 yards out from the back tees of 440 yards. I admit to not liking the water fountain in the pond. The green is nicely tiered. It’s a fine finish to a very playable golf course.
I think the Killeen course is a fine golf course. It has elements of strategy, courage, and many holes require precise shot making. Water comes into play quite often. I think it is perfect for society days or if you want to work on your accuracy off the tee. The course is well maintained and the greens roll true, even if they are not as undulated as many other golf courses. Due to the flat terrain, one rarely gets a bad bounce or lie on the fairway. If you were to ask me whether I would want to play here or The K Club, I would choose here due to the views and the nice variety of golf holes. The course is a challenge for long hitters as well as short hitters due to a good variety of tees.