My favorite golf hole: Stunning serenity on the Irish coast

December 1, 2018
No. 14 at Tralee Golf Club in Ireland

This is the latest in a multi-part series where our writers and editors wax poetic about their all-time favorite golf hole. Look for more entries throughout the holiday season. Enjoy! 

Several holes stand out in my memory for sentimental reasons — usually it’s because they’re tied to a certain nostalgia from my childhood and the familiar courses of my youth.

But I have never been so struck by the beauty of a single golf hole as I was in 2010, the first (and only) time I played Ireland’s Tralee Golf Club.

The entire course is an enormous treat — especially if you play it in the cold wind and sunshine, as I did on a November day more than eight years ago. Stunning views of the North Atlantic abound on nearly every hole, and the rolling fairways, massive, grassy dunes and surrounding Slieve Mist mountain range provide a backdrop like no other.

Every hole impressed, but the 14th has stayed with me.

As you exit the par-3 13th, a gorgeous short-iron hole that requires a full carry over a grassy canyon, you head upward to the elevated tee of the 14th. The walk allows the hole’s full glory to remain hidden until you reach the tee box.

When I first took in the view, I remember saying to my group, “This is, without question, the most beautiful hole I’ve ever seen.”

The 403-yard par 4 stretches out in front of you. You can see all the way to the green. A few strategically-placed bunkers dot the fairway, which add a satisfying color and texture contrast to the undulating green expanse, framed by fescue rough.

To the left, you’re treated to a shimmering vista of the Carrahane Strand. And in the distance just beyond the green — and this is where the hole really sold me — you can see a farm, complete with a handful of grazing black-and-white cows.

The sum of that whole scene — green and brown grass, white sand, blue water and sky, puffy clouds, grazing livestock — was so peaceful and pastoral that I had to remind myself not to linger and hit the ball.

That’s another thing I remember: the quiet. No cars whizzing down streets, no houses around. Just the white noise of wind, the crunch and slide of your feet and the soft clatter of the clubs on your back as you walk. It felt like golf in its most ideal form.

I had taken so many pictures of the course by that time that my digital camera battery had expired. The club graciously provided me with a stock photo for this piece. In retrospect, I’m disappointed that I didn’t manage to capture my own photo of this incredible hole.

But then again, maybe preserving it in my memory makes it even better.