Aug. 6, 2009
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The Notre Dame women’s golf team is headed to Ireland to play five historic courses as part of a preseason trip to the southwest portion of the country from Saturday, August 8 through Sunday, August 16. The five courses the Irish will take on include the Waterville Golf Club, the Tralee Golf Club, the Killarney Golf & Fishing Club, the Old Head Golf Links and the old course at the Ballybunion Golf Club.
“When I arrived here 3 years ago as the head coach taking the team to Ireland was something I discussed during my interview and really wanted to make happen; now here we are just days away from our trip to Ireland!” said head coach Susan Holt. “This trip would not be happening if it were not for the benefactors that have stepped up and made this trip possible. Our players and coaching staff are truly grateful for this once in a lifetime opportunity. The generosity of the benefactors is greatly appreciated,” Holt added.
Upon arriving at the Shannon Airport the Irish will check into the Killarney Plaza Hotel in Kenmare Place, Killarney Co Kerry, Ireland. The following day, the golf begins at the Waterville Golf Club located on the Ring of Kerry. Since opening in 1973, Waterville has enjoyed great popularity and has hosted some of the world’s leading professionals from Faldo and Floyd to Stewart, O’Meara and Woods.
Next, the Irish tee it up at the Old Course of Tralee in the trip’s only competitive round. Representing the first European design of Arnold Palmer, Tralee Golf Club in southwestern Ireland is one of the most spectacularly beautiful golf courses in the world. The seven active Irish players on the trip – Katie Allare (Phoenix, Ariz.), Annie Brophy (Spokane, Wash.), Katie Conway (Wading River, N.Y.), Becca Huffer (Denver, Colo.), Julie Kim (Bayside, N.Y.), So-Hyun Park (Seoul, South Korea) and Kristin Wetzel (Middletown, N.Y.) – will take on an assembled group of college-aged male and female members of Tralee. The competition will be a match play format that pairs competitors based on previously established handicaps.
Then, on Wednesday, August 12, the Notre Dame squad heads to the Killarney Golf & Fishing Club where they will take on the Killeen Course. Nestled amidst the splendor of the Lakes of Killarney in the shadow of the majestic Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range, the Killeen Course is also rated amongst the world’s top courses.
Thursday, August 13 features a round of play at the famed Old Head Golf Links, which is considered one of the most remarkable developments in the history of golf. With an Atlantic promontory that will never be rivaled in terms of drama and beauty, the course rises hundreds of feet above dramatic cliffs and is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on all sides. Eight of the holes play directly along the cliff-tops, providing an exhilarating test of golf and concentration.
To conclude the golfing portion of their trip, the Irish will play the Old Course at the Ballybunion Golf Club on Friday, August 14. The course has been rated one of the ten best golf courses in the world and is a true seaside links, meaning it is virtually treeless and has a distinct lack of man-made influences. Following play at Ballybunion, the Irish will check into The Lodge at Doonbeg in County Clare, Ireland.
“Our players are very excited to play some of the best golf courses in the world while in Ireland,” said Holt. “They will have a golf experience like no other! The game is played differently over seas with the rolling terrain, thick heather, tiny pot bunkers and large undulating greens; not to mention the strong winds coming off the North Atlantic Ocean,” Holt said, emphasizing the challenge that lies ahead.
On Saturday, August 15 the Notre Dame contingent will do a little sightseeing including tours of the Cliffs of Moher and the Aillwee Caves. Recently short-listed as one of the modern wonders of the world, the cliffs offer awe-inspiring views over the Atlantic Ocean. In the heart of the Burren, lies one of the oldest caves in Ireland, Aillwee Cave. The limestone area has been hollowed out by millions of years’ worth of water slowly but steadily trickling through the cracks and crevices and the river has since subsided leaving Ireland’s most stunning cave. “The golf and the cultural experience of this trip is bound to bring our players closer together which is always a plus with any team,” Holt analyzed.
Aside from the memories of an adventure that are sure to last a lifetime, Notre Dame’s trip across the Atlantic will serve to help prepare the team for the upcoming 2009-10 season. “I look for this trip to be a great way to jump start our fall season. Only two of our seven players have played tournament golf this summer,” Holt said. “The rest of the team has been attending summer school and doing summer job internships so getting to play five rounds of golf in Ireland should prove to be a great way to get tournament ready,” she added.
When the Irish return on August 16, they will be less than one month away from their first tournament. Notre Dame opens the fall portion of their schedule at Michigan State’s Mary Fossum Invitational at Forest Akers West in East Lansing, Mich. on September 11, 2009.
To keep up to date with the Irish and their experiences in Ireland, check back with und.com where blog updates from the players and coaches will be posted daily, along with photos. Also available on the Ireland trip webpage are links to the five courses Notre Dame will play and exclusive video footage of the trip will be posted upon returning to the U.S. as well.