The golfing world mourned a true legend in the passing of Arnold Palmer this week at the age of 86. Many have spoken of his legacy and what he gave to the game and how without him the professional game would never have developed in the way it has. His most lasting legacy might well be in the numerous golf courses he has designed all over the world and 3 in particular in Europe are well worth a visit.
The Palmer course at the fantastic K Club Golf Resort is an outstanding example of his work. The host of many European Tour events and of course the venue for the 2006 Ryder Cup it’s a great layout and should be on everyone’s bucket list to play. The River Liffey runs through the course and has been skilfully interwoven into the design of several holes especially the par 5 sixteenth which is a double dog leg before you have a tricky approach to a green surrounded on both sides by water. Played from the back tees its over 7000 yards long but there are sufficient different tees to choose from to make it an enjoyable challenge for any standard of golfer. Close enough to be visited from those staying in Dublin or if you want to experience real luxury stay in the fantastic Hotel on site.
The other course he designed in Ireland is the Tralee Golf Club which opened in 1984. Set in the County of Kerry, it’s a great links course set in a stunning location with several holes running along the cliff top offering stunning views of Tralee Bay and across to the Atlantic Ocean. The first nine holes are reasonably flat and straight forward but it’s the back nine that takes the breath away. A test of whether a golf course is great is how many of the holes stay in the memory after you have played there but here there are too many memorable holes to mention here. Palmer reportedly said that he had never come across a piece of land so ideally suited for the building of a golf course and he has created one of the world’s greatest links courses.
On the continent he designed the Oceanico Victoria Course in Vilamoura. It opened in 2004 and is now the regular venue for the Portuguese Masters tournament. Spread across 90 acres of wetland and vegetation it has numerous lakes to challenge golfers of all levels. At nearly 7000 yards from the back tees it is a source of amazement at the low scores the professional golfers can get around it but for lesser golfers there are numerous tees to choose from to offer an enjoyable challenge for players of all levels. There is an attacking way to play most of the holes or a more conservative approach is possible such is the cleverness of the design. Hitting the large greens isn’t too much of a problem but the undulating nature of them makes putting challenging and it is important to get the approach shot as close as possible to the flag.
Palmer was one of the world’s greatest and most influential players and his exploits on the course will long be remembered but his golf course designs will truly stand the test of time.