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The K Club,
Designer: Arnold Palmer
Championship Length: 7,178 yards
SSS (Course Rating): 76
Set amongst 330 acres of lush Kildare countryside, the K Club is arguably the finest parkland golf course in Ireland. Designed by Arnold Palmer, the K Club has hosted the prestigious European Open since 1995 and the Ryder Cup in 2006, the first time the event was staged in Ireland. 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.
If ever a golf course reflected the personality of its designer, then surely 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 layout, 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 at the K Club 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 surely, likely possibly not.