K Club (Smurfit) - Kildare - Ireland

The K Club,
Straffan,
Co. Kildare,
Ireland


  • +353 (0) 1 6017200

  • Niall Molloy

  • Harrison Minchew (Arnold Palmer design)

  • Michael Dixon


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at K Club (Smurfit)

The Smurfit course at The K Club (formerly known as the South course) has already received more accolades than the latest American blockbuster. Arnold Palmer's chief designer, Harrison Minchew, was charged with creating a layout which would contrast with the existing tree-lined Palmer course, and he's come up with a sculptured brute.

More than 200 acres of flat and featureless farmland were transformed into a course which features mounding, clever bunkering, amazing water hazards and huge sloping greens. The Smurfit was designed as a stadium course and the mounds provided ideal vantage points for the many spectators who watched Retief Goosen win the 2004 Smurfit European Open. Not bad for a course that opened for play just 12 months earlier. The course is named after the man behind the K Club - Dr Michael Smurfit – formerly a principle sponsor of the European Open.

For the handicap golfer, judicious use of the numerous tee boxes will make the difference between an enjoyable round and a painful slog. The Smurfit measures a monstrous 7,300 yards - factor in the wind and you've got a serious challenge. In fact, the par 72 Smurfit course is currently the longest on the European Tour circuit.

Clearly the Smurfit is a manufactured course, though not one single new tree was planted. However, 14 acres of water makes life very interesting and the 7th, the signature hole, called "Swallow Quarry", is a unique example. Measuring 606 yards, this par five demands respect, not only because it's tough, but also because it cost a king's ransom to build. The fairway was lowered by about 60 feet and a large rock-faced water feature was constructed along the full length of the hole. (The American company used is generally involved in manufacturing water features for Disney.) Seven holes on the back nine are protected by water and the 18th, called "Swan Island", has an island green. Make sure you take plenty of balls.

If you are a traditionalist, then the Smurfit is probably not up your street. If you are seeking thrills and excitement, then you're at the right place. The Smurfit may have become one of the most famous courses in Ireland, as it was rumoured that the 2006 Ryder Cup might be switched from the Palmer course to the outrageous Smurfit. It didn't happen, but if it had, we reckon that the 18th would have generated just as much excitement as that seen at the Belfry's famous closing hole.

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Reviews for K Club (Smurfit)

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Description: If you are a traditionalist then the Smurfit golf course is probably not up your street. If you are seeking thrills and excitement, then the K Club is for you. Rating: 4.1 out of 6 Reviews: 7

Lots of water with plenty of risk/reward shots. The course wasn't in great nick when we played it. There were divots and unrepaired pitch marks. It's over priced for what you get but that might be me bitching cos I lost 5 balls to the water.
3 / 6
K Club (Smurfit)
May 17, 2014


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Had high expectations being invited to play at the K Club. I enjoyed the drive in but that is all i can comment on a good note about. We arrived on the course on a lovely day only to be told there is placing everywhere and bunkers are out of play despite us all paying 70 euro! The course was saturated, bunkers hard looking, greens full of pitch marks, divots lying everywhere no green staff in sight. The course looked as if it was being left for dead in favour of the Palmer course.I thought that was bad enough and despite shooting a good round was bitterly dissapointed and to make things worse arrived in to the bar area ordered a burger onlt to see it burnt to a crisp along with the 2 or 3 chips i got with it!
1 / 6
K Club (Smurfit)
July 26, 2012


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This is the best conditioned course I've played on so far this year. The greens were flawless and extremely quick, which isn't bad for the beginning of October. The course itself is very difficult, particularly if you are not on your game. But it is fair; it rewards good shots but punishes bad shots, which is exactly what you want a good course to do. The back nine is an object lesson in keeping your ball dry and if you manage that, you'll score. The closing holes, 16, 17 and 18 are very tough and even in a gentle wind this place can leave you battered and bruised. Overall, however, it is great fun and very different from the Palmer. The conditioning was, however, simply outstanding and particularly so for the time of year. Great value too - look into the deals available.
5 / 6
K Club (Smurfit)
October 05, 2009


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Ebrahim Vahed
May 28, 2012
This was the last course we played on our tour. What a treat. A wonderful layout that lends itself to good golf and scoring if played off the appropriate tees. Great conditioning and terrific bunkering. Much more fun that the Palmer course and would encourage everyone to give it a crack. A quiet course and makes it more fun. Our partner treated us to an eagle and two birdies, the last being on the wonderful 18th hole. What a way to complete your tour. Ebrahim Vahed, South Africa
A contrived and manufactured course that tries to be an American in Ireland. Basically you can spot them both a mile off, lakes, waterfalls, huge bunkers, moundings, multitude teeing grounds, huge greens and expensive. Apart from that it's a good course but it's nowhere near good enough to get me wanting to go back and play it again. However, in my view the Smurfit is better than the Palmer course which is nothing more than an average resort course.
4 / 6
K Club (Smurfit)
June 05, 2009


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I would agree with some of the other comments - at first it's spellbinding, but when you consider it afterwards it does feel a bit manufactured. However, as long as you don't go to the course thinking you're about to play a true Irish links course then you won't be disappointed. It's condition was excellent, it doesn't need mature trees to give the holes definition, the bunkers/water/hollows and mounds do that. The greens were excellent, the water always seemed to be in play, but the course was fair. I thought this was better than the Palmer course, but that maybe because I was a bit disappointed by the greens there the previous day. All in all a great golfing experience.
6 / 6
K Club (Smurfit)
April 25, 2007


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Just returned from a winter deal at the K club. We pretty much all preferred the Smurfit to the Palmer. The Palmer is great but has some forgettable holes, but every hole on the Smurfit is interesting. The 7th is straight out of a Disney park and the other water features are all impressive, there are lots of changes in elevation, humps and hollows. Sure, when you think about it afterwards it is a bit manufactured, but while you’re playing it every hole grabs your attention and each shot or put has a little spice to it…
6 / 6
K Club (Smurfit)
March 15, 2007


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This is one seriously tough golf course and it's not for the feint hearted. First of all, it's long. Secondly the rough is brutal. Thirdly the greens are slick with wicked borrows and tough to read (at least they were for me). Played here on windy day and I came away battered and bruised. The Smurfit needs time to mature into what I am sure will be a great tournament course. The land is flat and boring, but they've really worked wonders to provide a decent golf course. It's a bit too Americanised for my liking, I'd like it to feel more authentically Irish. Not really my cup of tea but I do appreciate this is one heck of a golf course. Can't believe they spent so much money on that water feature... the money would perhaps have been better spent planting some big mature trees to provide some form and definition to what should be a parkland course.
4 / 6
K Club (Smurfit)
August 30, 2005


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