K Club (Palmer) Golf Club
Straffan, Co.Kildare, Ireland
Designer: Arnold Palmer (Palmer Course)
Championship Length: 7,337 yards
Set amongst 700 acres of lush Kildare countryside, the Palmer Course at the K Club is arguably the finest parkland golf course in Ireland. Designed by Arnold Palmer, the course has hosted the prestigious Smurfit European Open since 1995 and of course became the first Irish venue to host the Ryder Cup in September 2006. And though there are many who insist that the Ryder Cup should have been played on one of the great Irish links courses, anyone who has played the K Club will know that the course is a worthy venue for an event of the magnitude of the Ryder Cup. The K Club now boasts a second championship layout, known as the Smurfit Course. Offering another great test, the Smurfit Course presents a very different test and has already hosted the European Open of 2004.
If ever a golf course reflected the personality of its designer, then surely the Palmer Course at the K Club is it. And while it may seem odd to describe a golf course as charismatic and cavalier, from the moment you arrive at the first tee here, a unique atmosphere envelops you. This is quite simply one of Europe’s most spectacular venues. It charms, entices and frustrates and though it is recognised as one of Ireland’s most testing inland layouts, the course invariably brings out the best in your game.
The course has few if any weak holes and following a realistic birdie opportunity at the par five 1st hole, the sharp doglegging 2nd offers a much more fearsome challenge. Your second shot here is one of the most exacting of the entire round, requiring a downhill approach to a small green guarded by trees on one side and a pond on the other. One of the finest holes on the Palmer Course is undoubtedly the par five 7th hole, which measures over 600 yards from the championship stakes. The hole double doglegs its way over sand, rough and water, while the sanctuary like green occupies its own little island, sandwiched between two arms of the River Liffey.
The return journey is equally challenging and begins with a drive from an elevated tee down a fairway lined with towering pines on the right and a lake on the left. Measuring 170 yards, the par three 12th is a stunning hole that resembles the 12th at Augusta, in that it’s played over water to a shallow, angled green. The closing stretch is one of the finest around with the 16th and 18th standing out. Rated as the hardest on the course, the 16th is the quintessential all or nothing two shotter, where an accurate drive must be followed by an even more precise approach over water to an island green. It’s the 18th however that’s the crowning glory of the K Club. The setup dares the golfer to drive over the top of a bunker strewn hill and then tempts you to fire straight at the flag in search of an heroic finish. Possible, sure; likely, definitely not!
Carlow (70 min); Druids Glen (60 min); European Club (1 hr, 20 min); The Island (60 min); Mount Juliet (2 hours); Portmarnock Golf Club (1 hr, 15 min); Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links (1 hr, 15 min); Royal Dublin (1 hr, 20 min)
RECOMMENDED NEARBY ACCOMMODATION:
Butlers Town House (60 min); Carton House Hotel (20 min); K Club (on site); Merrion Hotel (50 min); Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links (1 hr, 15 min); Westin Hotel Dublin (50 min)
Situated just outside Straffan village. Travelling west on the N4 route from Dublin, take Maynooth exit and turn left to Straffan. From the main N7 route, take turn at Kill village for Straffan.