K Club (Palmer Ryder Cup) - Kildare - Ireland

The K Club,
Straffan,
Co. Kildare,
Ireland


  • +353 1 6017200

  • Niall Molloy

  • Arnold Palmer

  • Michael Dixon


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The K Club played host to the 2006 Ryder Cup matches between the USA and Europe. Team Captains were Tom Lehman (US) and Ian Woosnam (Europe). The first Ryder Cup to be hosted in Ireland turned into a record-equalling event and a deeply emotional affair as Darren Clarke returned to the golfing stage for the first time since the death of his wife Heather. The huge crowds gave the Irishman an extraordinary reception that resonated across the entire K Club property. On Sunday, shortly after rookie Henrik Stenson holed the putt to win the Ryder Cup, Clarke won his match against Zach Johnson and then broke down in tears, only to be greeted with hugs from Captains Woosnam and Lehman alongside many other players from both teams. Europe 18 ½ - USA 9 ½. The Ryder Cup was played at Oakland Hills in 2004 and at Valhalla in 2008.

The K Club, or to give it its full title, the Kildare Country Club, is located in 550 acres of rolling County Kildare countryside. It’s the most renowned golf resort in Ireland.

The North course, or rather the Palmer Ryder Cup course, as it is now called, was deigned by Arnold Palmer, opening for play in 1991. The River Liffey meanders through the course and becomes hazardous on a number of holes, especially the 8th, where it runs all the way down the left hand side of the fairway.

There are four teeing areas to choose from and we recommend that you select the right one carefully because the Palmer course measures a whopping 7,337 yards from the blues, a par of 72. The SSS of 76 tells the story. The blues should really be left for the very best golfers, the likes of Phillip Price, Michael Campbell, Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood. The aforementioned gentlemen are the most recent winners of the European Open, held at the K Club in recent years.

In October 2006, the K Club played host to the biggest golfing event in Irish history, the 36th Ryder Cup. The Palmer course proved to be a worthy venue and millions of people witnessed an emotionally charged European Team romp to a record equalling victory – 18½ points to 9½.

You will either love the Palmer course or hate it; you might hate it if you are off your game because it will beat you up viciously, and you’ll love it if your game is on song. Either way, no one could dispute that it’s a challenging test of golf and it certainly provided plenty of entertainment during the Ryder Cup.

The holes are designed to shock and in some cases, they are intimidating. The 16th is a monster par five, measuring nearly 600 yards from the blue tees; the hole double doglegs past all types of hazards, including trees, water, bunkers and punishing rough, and then you have to have to find the green, fiercely protected on both sides by the River Liffey. Even more difficult than the 16th is the stroke index one par four 7th measuring 430 yards from the tips. It’s a potential card wrecker that requires an accurate approach shot to another green guarded by water. These are just two examples of what to expect during your adventure round the Palmer course.

In many ways, the K Club is reminiscent of the Belfry. Firstly it’s a tournament course. Secondly, it’s a resort course. Thirdly it’s dominated by water. Fourth and finally, it is tough. If you can afford it, you’ll never forget it.

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Reviews for K Club (Palmer Ryder Cup)

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Description: The K Club, or to give it its full title, the Kildare Country Club, is located in 550 acres of rolling County Kildare countryside – it’s the most renowned golf resort in Ireland. Rating: 4.5 out of 6 Reviews: 15

I believe crticism should ilicit a positive result leading to learning and improvement rather than simply disenchantment. Some may argue or be surprised by my 1-Ball assessment so herewith, I qualify that. There are few 5-ball courses and that should be so. 4-Ball should signify excellence. The K-Club is a potential 3-Ball course which if not in poor condition with years of neglect could be a memorable and worthwhile golfing experience. However, the resort itself bears no relationship to the glowing description above. It lost its’ premier designation as both the hotel and clubhouses need major refurbishment. It has been suplanted by other truly premier resorts in Ireland. As to the golf course itself, while the design is very good and on par with many top quality parkland resorts in other countries and the United States it is in poor condition. Sand traps are filled with numerous stones some up to 1/3 the size of a golf ball. Tee boxes are far from the expected condition of a top quality resort especially in this price range. The K-club remains the most expensive membership based golf club in Ireland and much more than double in price compared to its’ far more meticulously maintained rivals. A key factor is a groundkeeping staff of about 10 for 2 golf courses compared to 40 greenskeepers at other top quality resorts. The lakes desperately need attention, the rough is often unevenly cut leaving some fareway adjacent semirough much longer than appropriate nor aesthetically pleasing given multiple patches of varying height. Holes and bare areas extend to the semirough and portions of the fairways. Actual fairway condition is fairly good except drainage was not buried deeply enough and in the 2018 Summer drought this left a crisscrossing of dead grass across multiple areas of every fairway, a condition sure to repeat and which will be costly to remedy. Tree roots growing at or within millimeters of the surface are generally normal but have become excessive due to a number of horticultural reasons with the end result potentially a danger such as a wrist fracture by an enthusiastic golfer. Ball washers are sometimes empty or absent and practice balls often forgotten to be collected and replaced. Much of the planting is overgrown and has lost its’ intended design element. The practice green is rather poor in design and often not reflective of the actual course greens. In short this is a maintenance and investment issue. Insufficient staff and a decision not to restore the golf course to its’ once heralded condition is for management to remedy. As of now, I would give this course a pass and focus on the unforgetable links courses or the several truly remarkable recently refurbished parkland courses in Ireland of which the K-club is no longer one.

1 / 6
K Club (Palmer Ryder Cup)
November 06, 2018


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BB
November 06, 2018

While at risk of not seeing the wood for the trees here, the rating system suggested by this website is that a 6-ball value should convey “excellence”, 5-ball “very good”, 4-ball merely “good”.

Assuming your feedback is justified, let’s hope it does get a response

Shane Derby
November 07, 2018

The cherry on top of Michael Smurfit's legacy is currently up for sale for approximately €80 million. I suspect that the conditioning of the course or lack thereof is driven by this.

The head green keeper Gerry Byrne has been in situ for many years and is one of the best around so it may be a case of loaves and fishes until a new owner comes on board.

Being honest, I'm not a huge fan of the layout. There are undoubtedly some truly great holes (8 and the finishing stretch from 15 to 18, however, there are too many holes which are there to get you from A to B as it were particularly the insipid run amongst the houses before the finishing stretch.

It's a pity that things seem to have taken a downward turn (I dont think the rack green fee has though). I can recall the first time I cast my eyes on the venue for the European Open back in the early noughties when Messers Campbell and Harrington went head to head on the final day..... the condition of the fairways and tee boxes that day were better than many clubs greens.

Lets hope for a sale to a real golf connoisseur who can polish a tired grand damme of Irish and European golf.

Niall
November 09, 2018

I agree with BB and Shane Derby. Even with some conditioning issues the course has not been rated fairly by Mr Desmond. I’ve played both courses at the K Club and I’m not a fan of either, but that is also true of every modern era European Ryder Cup course since the Belfry lurched into the scene in the mid 1980s. A 2 star rating would be the lowest fair rating for this course even though Mr Palmer’s course (GRHS) is architecturally uninspiring. I can’t help but feel that the original review is ill considered eschewing reaction for unspecified personal reasons.

Played it for the first time in August. Now don't get me wrong, I love Arnold Palmer -- but I'm not a big fan of his golf courses. Hole designs are somewhat redundant -- rare uniqueness is somewhat forced -- leading to, unfortunately, a forgettable round. I can see why the layout, routing and location would support an important event like The Ryder Cup; however, if it were not for the history of that event, the course is generally indistinguishable from other high-end parkland settings.

3 / 6
K Club (Palmer Ryder Cup)
November 25, 2017


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The K Club is a memorable place to visit and brought back happy memories of one of Europe's most emotional Ryder Cup victories. The whole resort oozes 5-star quality and the Palmer Course green fee certainly reflects the fact that you are at one of Ireland's iconic luxury destinations. The 7,350 yard Palmer Course might best be described as a rolling parkland layout which is heavily bunkered and extremely tough. The 1st is a gentle opener from the regular tees but the water running up the left must be avoided. In fact it soon becomes apparent that water is aK Club (Palmer) Golf Course - Photo by reviewer constant threat throughout the round, playing its part on no less than 14 holes in total. Both short holes on the front nine have water coming into play, the 3rd also having a large front bunker to contend with and the River Liffey runs from tee to green alongside the 8th which is a very good hole indeed.

Of the longer holes the 4th is a well bunkered double dogleg par-5 and was said to be Arnold Palmer's favourite. The 6th and 7th are both picturesque and demanding, the approach shot on the 7th in particular has to be well struck to clear the substantial pond. The theme continues throughout the 11th, 12th and 13th, a lovely trio of holes which all have water close to the green. The 11th and short 12th are both very attractive and the 13th very tough with the well protected green biting into the lake. The 16th, a strong par-5, is certainly one of my favourite holes. The tee shot is relatively comfortable but the second shot must be played into a narrowing fairway before finally attacking a green positioned on a small island in the River Liffey. Big hitters may be tempted to go for it in two but a precise shot is required to hit this narrow and well defended target. The memorable finishing stretch concludes with the exciting 18th, it's huge green cutting into the lake providing a fitting conclusion to the most challenging of courses. Brian W

5 / 6
K Club (Palmer Ryder Cup)
October 10, 2016


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so good we played it twice! What is there not to love? Gorgeous course, almost every hole is memorable, water, bunkers, lush fairways, true greens, stunning views, beautiful parkland, friendly and welcoming staff. Forget the links snobs, come with an open mind, watch the Ryder Cup dvd, and you will cherish playing here. On top, we got "early bird" green fees at half price teeing off at 9! One of my top 5 courses and I think the best parkland course I have ever played.
6 / 6
K Club (Palmer Ryder Cup)
June 23, 2015


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The 2006 Ryder Cup course was in great condition in May 2012 and was a pleasure to play. In fact I got a lot more than I bargained for and was very impressed with the course. Memories of Tiger’s opening shot in 2006 that found the water on the left was on my mind when I tee’d it up, nothing to worry about, aim at the water and the customary fade will do the rest! Key holes on the front nine were the monster par-5 4th (Arnold’s Pick), playing a little downhill from the tee, double-doglegging to a well protected green. Plus the 7th, SI#1 – without doubt the toughest par-4 on the course, the wind swirls and the obvious watery grave short of the green being the problems. Many great holes on the back nine, the 11th has an intimidating approach with water left of the green and the pick would have to be the 16th; this is the par-5 that sticks in my mind from the 2006 Ryder Cup, Darren Clarke beat Zach Johnson here and very emotional scenes followed. The hole needs respect, two solid shots to the right of the water hazard and then an accurate approach is required – a real top class long hole. The last hole is a great design, another par-5 which could bring eagles, birdies plus doubles and worse mainly because of the water that separates the opening hole from the closing one - certainly reachable for the big guns but at what cost? The K-Club is yet another superb Irish stay and play venue and a very special place.
5 / 6
K Club (Palmer Ryder Cup)
June 01, 2012


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Quite simply the best course I have played , and coming for NI , I have played RCD and Portrush, this in my option was in a different league, I seen the average reviews and was a little apprehensive , but from the first to the last the golf course was outstanding and the 16th being one of the best holes in golf ! We where blessed with a stunning march day even that made it all the better , Again a wonderful course and well worth a visit!
6 / 6
K Club (Palmer Ryder Cup)
March 09, 2010


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As a lover of links and heathland courses, what I would call “proper” golf, I had already condemned the K Club to the ranks of “just another US style resort out to milk every dollar from the visiting overseas visitor” prior to arriving. I am very fortunate in getting to play many of these resorts on invitations, and it is a rare occasion to walk off the course feeling that I would be happy to pay for the experience out of my own pocket, and that this has never happened to me at a resort course. Maybe it was the lack of hype or expectancy that helped prepare me for giving the K Club a fair hearing. Firstly, the hotel is priced at high end international 5* levels & this is exactly what you get. Is any hotel room worth £500 per night, £25 for a cup of tea via room service…..You can argue the value (or lack of it), but not the quality.

My experience of the course? Well the negatives are… very little elevation change and…. well that’s about it. I am stumped to think of anything else. Playing the course early in September after a dry spell certainly helped as the turf was superb. The course has matured well and initially I was surprised at the tightness of line off the tee. The risk reward factor is evident on every hole, leading to an exciting round with many heart in mouth moments reliving Ryder cup glory (or too often failures). Overall condition of bunkering, greens, rough and attention to detail was the best of any course I have played in the world and I say this through gritted teeth for the reasons stated at the top of the article. The best way to summarise my experience is to explain that my wife decided to take up the game four years ago and now plays golf to a good standard. Come January and she no longer looks to the thought of Caribbean beaches to see her through the cold dark months, but plans for the summer months around Carnoustie, St Andrews, Royal Birkdale, Woodhall Spa, etc…This years first trip is to be the K club and I can’t wait even though I’m paying for it out of my own pocket. Praise indeed!
6 / 6
K Club (Palmer Ryder Cup)
January 20, 2010


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I must have played a different course to some people. I thought the K Club was a beautiful and challenging course with plenty of features to keep me interested. The welcome, the staff and the whole estate arew frst class. The feature holes such as the 6th.7th, 16th and 18th are very memorable indeed. We have played the 3 Ryder cup courses over the past 12 months and I would rank the K Club far higher than the 2010 at Celtic Manor and in a different league to the Brabazon. Perhaps it was because it felt natural, whereas the other 2 had a 'man-made' feel to them. I will certainly make an effort to get back in the future. The Smurfit course sounds interesting.
5 / 6
K Club (Palmer Ryder Cup)
November 16, 2009


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Played this in July 07 having played Carton House Monty previous day. Subsequently played Adare Manor. The K Club was the dissapointment. We got a great dea for accommadation, dinner and 36 holes but the course was too wet and should have been closed. Nevertheless the lay-out was ok, condition difficult to assess because of the wet conditions and greens ok. In summary, I will not be going back unless someone else is paying. Having the Ryder Cup may help it commercially but that misleads. The 18th sums it up, the lake, the vista, the view of the Ryder Cup flags on the clubhouse all for a very average finishing hole. I have rated this by the standards this club aspires to!! Tim Gorman
3 / 6
K Club (Palmer Ryder Cup)
February 25, 2009


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Played this as part of a hotel package which included the Smurfit course. After some terrible weather for Ireland in the preceeding fortnight the Palmer was in remarkably good condition. It played long, but the fairways were excellent, the rough was thick and difficult. As a party we were disappointed with the greens again. Although they ran fairly true there was a lot of sand/top dressing on them. A great course though, a friendly welcome and would undoubtedly come back to the K Club.
5 / 6
K Club (Palmer Ryder Cup)
September 02, 2008


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