In late 2006, the Palmer Course at the K Club became Ireland's first Ryder Cup venue, as it played host to Europe's record-equalling victory. It is a stadium-style resort course, and at over 7,300 yards from the tips, many commentators have described it as the most difficult inland layout in the country.
Palmer has succeeded in manipulating the existing mature trees and water features to create a magnificent test for golfers of all standards. The coverage and attention that has been brought to both the K Club and Irish golf in general is richly deserved, given the faultless display that the Palmer Course exhibited during the Ryder Cup matches.
Designed by: Arnold Palmer
Opened for play: 1991
Previously hosted: Ryder Cup (2006),
Blue (Pro): 7,350 yards, SSS 76
yards, SSS 74
Green (Visitors): 6,240 yards, SSS 72
Red (Ladies, Par 73): 5,131 yards, SSS 72
The neighbouring Smurfit Course is an extravagant creation, divided from the Palmer Course by the River Liffy, which flows right through to Dublin. The layout can be characterised as an inland links, with much earth having been moved to create dune-like mounds at the edge of the fairways.
The drama of the experience at the Smurfit comes primarily from the 14 acres of water that have been worked into the course, making it pretty important to stock up on golf balls before the first tee. The course has a more rugged feel than its sister, owing to the planting of gorse and bracken. The signature hole is the monster par-5 seventh, which measures in at an astonishing 606 yards, and skirts a dramatic series of water cascades.
In the Vintage Crop cocktail bar, the highlight is the humidor, which is a miniature version of the hotel itself and houses the best in Cuban cigars, from Montecristo to Cohiba.
Designed by: Harrison Minchew (Arnold Palmer design)
Opened for play: 2003
Previously hosted: European Open
Blue (Pro): 7,277 yards, SSS 74
yards, SSS 72
Green (Visitors): 6,244 yards, SSS 72
Red (Ladies): 5,443 yards, SSS 72
Hole 7 (Smurfit Course), Par 5, 606 yards, SI 12
The 7th hole or 'The Swallow Quarry' provides a stern test for all golfers. At 606 yards, the hole is lengthy and a large water feature which runs along the fairway has been known to catch players out. The hole is one of the most dramatic in Europe, and as its name suggests, has the potential to wreck your scorecard within the blink of an eye.