When a golf hole marries scenic dimensions with first order strategic calculations of the highest level, you are referencing a most special union few can ever aspire to attain.
Tralee's 17th hole scores high on both accounts. The hole commences from an elevated tee - off to the nearby right is the unrelenting pulse of the Atlantic Ocean, with waves crashing along the long expanse of Barrow Beach. Interestingly, in the late 1500's a number of ships from the Spanish armada found their final resting place along this coastline.
One must also mention the vagaries of the wind. There is no consistent direction or velocity, although a stout headwind from the southwest is often the norm. When relatively calm the challenge of the tee shot can be far less demanding. However, when the wind arrives in force the wherewithal to hit a boring ball through the air will be a challenge like no other at Tralee.
Often times when elite par-4's are discussed the lion's share of attention invariably cites those holes with the most length. Tralee's 17th at 362 yards is one of golf's most riveting holes because power alone will not tame this seductive charmer. The hole descends into a valley floor with a fairway bunker positioned on the right side and two just off to the far left. The fairway then turns right noticeably beyond the bunker on the right. From the championship tees the front edge of the right bunker is 250 yards and it cannot be stressed enough that failure to avoid any of the fairway bunkers will result in swift and certain punishment.
For those opting to go left, the key is not hitting too strong - roughly 275 yards - to reach the fairway bunkers on that side. The key is getting one's tee shot just to the left of the right hand fairway bunker and far enough off the tee, providing the most ideal view of the green. The putting surface is set high above the fairway: any shot not hit sufficiently with the appropriate trajectory will be swiftly rejected. Gauging the shot is a major test of nerve. The green is 26 yards deep but from the vantage point of the fairway the available landing area does not engender much confidence before the play is made. Any shot off the green will face a resolute test in attempting to escape with a par.
This landscape in and around Tralee was chosen for David Lean’s award-winning film “Ryan’s Daughter” - hence the name for the golf hole.
As the penultimate hole, the 17th beckons golfers to summon up their best efforts. The prize for success is a grand one - but be ever mindful the 17th provide no quarter, no allowance for the half-hearted play. Stand tall as you gaze from the tee, take in the sights and sounds and relish all it provides. The memory will be seared into your consciousness.