How I fell in love with Waterville Links

The famous Waterville Links in County Kerry, Ireland.

The famous Waterville Links in County Kerry, Ireland.

“I was first aware of Waterville in the early 1960s when Jack Mulcahy was the owner. Jack was also a member at Winged Foot in New York and I used to hear these great stories in the locker room of how he would invite people across to Ireland saying, ‘Leave your wallets at home, guys!” I remember hoping I’d be mature enough one day to receive an invitation.

Some 30 years later, I met Jay Connolly and some of the partners who own Waterville today. My three sons and I have been coming here for the World Invitational Father & Son Golf Tournament for many years. It’s a great place to be and it’s cool to reconnect with the friends who gather here each year.  When asked to be involved in renovating the course, my first reaction was that it was too far to travel. But I fell in love with the town and its people.

The original nine holes were built on the linksland in the 1880s with another nine on flatter land in the 1960s. This created a huge distinction between the nines. My brief was to blend the two to create continuity while retaining the challenge, beauty and excitement. What I love now is that if you asked golfers to name their favourite hole, you’d get a wide range of answers. The traditional favourite is the 17th because of its high tee elevation and views of the bay. The mass hole is special for me, while the 16th that flows through the dunes and alongside the water is glorious. I could tell you a story about every hole.”

Tom Fazio, photographed for Golf World at Waterville Golf Links in Ireland.

Tom Fazio, photographed for Golf World at Waterville Golf Links in Ireland.

Nick Wright