Deerpark, Killarney, Ireland
As with many Pitch and Putt clubs throughout Ireland, the origins of Co. Kerry's No. 1 club lie in the local GAA club. A sub-committee from neighbouring Fitzgerald Stadium (scene of many a great football match over the years) were charged with transforming some of its unused rugged land into a public amenity. The land on which Deerpark now stands had been an unused ballast pit.
At one time during the 1970s, Killarney (as and it was originally known) boasted two eighteen hole courses but the 'back greens', as the second eighteen holes were known, were felt too difficult to maintain. The club reverted to 18 holes and current course in the early eighties.
The Deerpark course is situated in an area of great natural beauty. The majestic Magillicuddy Reek Mountains look down on the course, which is just a short walk from the tourist mecca that is Killarney. Nearby, the famous jarvey pony and trap 'taxis' await to whisk visitors to all the nearby scenic attractions - the Lakes of Killarney, Muckross House, Torc Waterfall, Moll's Gap and the rest. Lying just kilometres from Deerpark are the equally celebrated Mahony's Point and Killeen (along with the recently created third course - Lackabane) of the Killarney Golf and Fishing complex.
Deerpark has been selected as the host venue for the III Irish International Open, which is scheduled to take place in 2011.
After a relatively benign opening, Deerpark's first long hole is the 70 metre seventh. Ranked second most difficult hole, the seventh demands that the teeshot carry the mounds surrounding the front of the green. There is little trouble to the rear of the green. The gentle slopes on the right hand side of the green can be deceptive. Many regard the tenth as the course's most difficult, although it is officially Stroke Index 4. Any teeshot veering a little left will drift off the green and continue downhill. If you play it too far right, your ball will hold up in hollow above the green, leaving a tough downhill chip. Originally, this sand based green was built in the shape of a keyhole and the hole was named "Keyhole Corner".
Derry McCarthy is perhaps Deerpark's most famous player. Runner-up in two successive Irish Strokeplay championships in the late 1990s, Derry finally won a deserved national championship when he overcame Chris Scannell in the 2004 Irish Matchplay final after a supremely successful staging of the event by Deerpark.
The famous uphill twelfth is punitive on short teeshots. The ball has been known to spin back, leaving a second shot of over 20 metres. Severe slopes on the green make almost every putt difficult. The 49 metre 15th is the beginning of a great closing stretch. Short here and you drift back down into the valley. Long and the ball will probably bounce back down the hill also. Through the green can leave an almost impossible chip back. Sixteen could be considered the "Road Hole" of Pitch and Putt. Out of Bounds on the right, steep bank and a tree on the left with gorse bushes behind render this a truly memorable hole. When the wind blows in this corner of the course, particularly the prevailing westerly into one's face, covering the 65 metres in par depends on God and gravity! When they speak of elevated greens around Deerpark, they mean the eighteenth where the 40 metre pitch faces a sheer drop on all sides! A back left pin position (particularly in dry summer conditions) can see many teeshots and even a few putts sliding down the hill!
After Deerpark's organisational triumph at the 2004 National Matchplay championships (Marian Byrne won the ladies event), the club was rewarded with the 2006 Irish Seniors championship (in which Pat Greene fired a brilliant 15 under par aggregate for 36 holes and the 2009 Irish Mixed Foursomes (won by Chris Scannell and his sister Siobhan).
The visitors to Killarney for the Irish Open next year are sure to enjoy the town and will undoubtedly find Deerpark a course to savour. Damien Fleming will be hoping to add to his International Open collection on his home course, having won at Royal Meath in 2009.
Course address is:
Upper Lewis Road