Mahony’s Point is a shorter but competent understudy to the Killeen course.
There was a trio of 18-hole courses at the Killarney Golf & Fishing Club, and for a period Killarney was able to boast three courses in Ireland's Top 100. Sadly the Donald Steel-designed Lackabane course, which opened for play in 1999, closed in 2012 due to the financial crisis, but it was reborn in 2016 as a 9-hole course.
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 Mahony’s Point course is 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. This is the most mountainous region in the Emerald Isle.
Golf at Killarney dates back to 1891, but it was Sir Guy Campbell who laid out the first proper golf course in 1939. In the 70s, a new course was built and now both Mahony’s Point and the Killeen utilise a mixture of the old and the new layouts. The last three holes on Mahony’s Point are part of Campbell’s original design, one of the finest finishing stretches in golf. The conclusion is a remarkable and supremely challenging signature hole, usually played into the prevailing wind. The tee shot must carry across the edge of Lough Leane to a naturally elevated green framed by pine trees. The 18th hole will remain etched in the memory forever.
Everyone says that Mahony’s Point is shorter than the Killeen course and of course it is, but it doesn’t feel short and why should it? It measures 6,700 yards from the blue tees and 5,500 yards from the reds. This is not a pitch and putt.
In 1993, Following the Fairways voted Killarney, Golf Club of the Year. The fantastic experience is made up from many factors. The setting is breathtaking, the course condition is first class, the holes are varied and exciting and last but not least, the Irish welcome is warm and friendly. Surely there can be no better place in the whole of Ireland to play inland golf?
Killarney Golf and Fishing Club Mahony’s Point golf course is a nice course to play if you want to have a stroll in a beautiful setting. It sits in a national park in the Ring of Kerry on Lough Leane with the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range across the lough. The final three holes of Mahony’s Point, which play along the lough are particularly beautiful. There are also wonderful views from the third and thirteenth greens. I rate it lower than the Killeen course as the Killeen course has more excitement to it and better views of the lough, beginning with Killeen’s opening holes.
One does wonder why the club did not build one course with six-seven holes on the water and put the second course as the inland course. I can only imagine how good one of the courses could be. Mmmmm. Maybe just re-route the courses since Mahony’s Point already requires a player to cross the road. Flip some of the greens and tees on the Killeen course on holes to make it happen after borrowing 1, 2, 15-18 then walk over to Killeen first hole as the seventh hole and still finish on Killeen's eighteenth. It could be done.
The question as to whether to play or even recommend Mahony’s Point comes down to: is it worth playing for the two marvelous holes on the lough? The club likes to say there are three holes but actually the sixteenth is not truly on the water, it just works its way back to the lough with the green offering the view of the lough. The lough does not truly come into play on sixteen.
The Mahony’s Point course is shorter than the Killeen course, but there is adequate length here. However, the quality of the holes are not as good as the Killeen as the course is wide open, too forgiving and the bunkering is inconsistent to be of any interest to the serious competitive golfer.
Much like the Killeen, the greens are relatively flat. Different to the Killeen, the course is more generous/forgiving off the tee with few penalties for missing the fairway. There are fewer trees, but perhaps that is because they want to provide more views of the lough and the mountains. There is more undulation in the terrain than the Killeen. I do think Mahony’s Point has a better placement and use of bunkers than the Killeen, where there are bunkers.
It is a mixed course in that some of the fairways are really wide, some are narrower, some greens have a lot of bunkers and some have none. For instance, the first hole, a par four, is very generous off the tee yet the green has six bunkers on the right creeping behind the green and one bunker back left. The second is a sharp dogleg right with bunkers on either side of the turn of the fairway and two large bunkers at the green. The fifth hole, a short par 5 has a straight fairway and no bunkers. It is too easy. The seventh hole, a mid-length par 3 has four bunkers at the rear and a beautifully tiered green. Eight, a par five, has no bunkers. The twelfth hole, a long par 3 has an enormous bunker to the right.
I wish there would be more consistency in the bunkering on the golf course, but I suspect it is geared toward the type of player here who wants a bit of a challenge, but also a relaxing round of golf.
The par five’s are too easy and lacking in strategy as are several of the par 4 holes, even some of the doglegs.
The third hole is long as a par 4 with tall grass framing the fairway and offers a rise at the green that seems to be the highest point on either course. It has a grass bunker short of the green on the right followed by a small bunker also short of the green which made me question why either are there. The views from the green are very good even if you are somewhat distant from the edge of the lough. I highlight this hole because the green has a nice false front and is steeply pitched back to front. If only there were a few more interesting greens on the course.
The fifteenth has another interesting green and although it has four bunkers surrounding the green, the hole is too short to really bring those bunkers into play unless one’s game is off that day.
The short par 5 sixteenth hole has you hitting from a chute of trees into a wide open field followed by an approach shot back into another chute of trees to a green exposed to the lough. It is a nice golf hole due to the stream crossing the fairway nearer the green.
The seventeenth plays alongside the lough with the water down the right side to the green. Between the fairway and water is sand and bushes. Do not go right or you will be penalized. Trees begin about 2/3’s down the left side but offer the ability to punch out or even advance the ball. If you go left of the trees off the tee you will have to summon courage to hit a hook towards the water to get one’s ball close to the green. The fairway is nicely rumpled and the green sits on the right half of the fairway. It is a grand hole.
Ah, the eighteenth hole, one of the most beautiful holes in all of golf due to its setting. It is a lengthy par 3 hitting across the lough into a green surrounded by beautiful trees and flowering bushes. It feels as if you have entered an arboretum for your final hole and someone placed a green here. It is spectacularly beautiful. Henry Longhurst once remarked this would be a fine place to breathe one’s last breath, or something to that effect. If that is when life comes to an end, it would hard to disagree with him. There are four bunkers left and short of the green and there is adequate room to land one’s ball short of the green as the water stops about 20 yards short of the green.
My summary of Mahony’s Point is that I like playing it. As stated, when I stay in Killarney I play both courses the same day due to the ease of the walk, the relatively stress free round of golf, and the beauty surrounding me. If I only had time for one course, I would play Killeen. I would not make a special trip to play either if I was not staying in Killarney but the combination of the town and these two golf courses are almost irresistible.
The course had been closed for 3 days due to heavy rain so it is slightly difficult to review this course too harshly. The conditioning wasn't great but that could be forgiven given the recent rain, however, at least three of the greens had severe problems and damage which looked long-term.
The views are beautiful and there are some lovely holes (3, 6 and 10) but there are also some very ordinary holes which either need very little strategy or have failed to make the best use of the great land available (9, 15 and 17).
Overall it felt the course was living on former glories and certainly can't compare to some of the other great Parkland courses in Ireland. If it was half the price then I'd understand but my recommendation would either be to stick with the great links courses in Kerry or head to Beaufort.