The K Club: Palmer Course review

Opulent 2006 Ryder Cup venue hosts this week's Irish Open

Charlie Lemay's picture
Mon, 11 Apr 2016

The Kildare Country Club smacks of class from the moment you enter the premises. The gigantic, glistening hotel oozes opulence, and thankfully it has a golf course to match.

Known as the K Club, the layout hosts this week's 2016 Irish Open on the famous Palmer Course, 10 years after it staged one of sport's greatest spectacles - the Ryder Cup.

Rory McIllroy headlines a star-studded field, which includes Dane Soren Kjeldsen, who lifted the trophy a Royal County Down last term. 

Golf Guide: Northern Ireland

 

Located in 550 acres of rolling County Kildare countryside, 45 minutes west of Dublin, the Palmer Course enjoys a serene setting, replete with wildlife.

 

The layout was designed by Arnold Palmer in 1991, and the King's fingerprint has made a lasting impression.

 

Long, with relatively wide fairways, plenty of water, and large greens, at first glance the design looks authentically American - especially when compared to other courses in the area. 

 

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However, the genius lies in the detail. Palmer has kept natural contours and features, adding an Irish flavour - akin to an Irish coffee, if you will.

 

Greens are large, relatively flat, and run fast and true. As you would expect from a course of this stature, it is manicured to a high standard, although it can get spongy when rain lingers for days on end.  

 

 

The opening holes feature doglegs and narrower fairways compared to the riches that are to come. However, it is a gentle introduction to what is a tough round - fill your boots while you can. 

 

The 7th, named Michael's favourite, is a beguiling hole, giving players options off the tee. At 430 yards from the Blues, the first question is whether to hit driver or less off the tee on this par four.

 

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The hole dolegs severly to the left, so players need to hit a draw in order to stay in the fairway, if they choose to hit the big stick.

 

With water lining the right side of the fairway, players could be taking a trip to the drink if they push their approach - easy to do, as the fairway slopes away from you. 

 

A hybrid or fairway wood is the sensible play, although players are then left with a longer iron into a protected green. 

 

 

 

Like many great championship courses, the closing holes at the Palmer Course offer risk and reward in generous portions. The round reaches its brilliant climax on the finishing stretch, and will leave an impression on every golfer - and on their scorecard, no doubt. 

 

The 16th hole, a par-five measuring almost 600 yards from the tips, is littered with water, bunkers and trees.

 

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The green is protected on both sides by water, and although it is a relatively large putting surface, it will not seem that way if players are making their approach with an iron or hybrid in hand.

 

 

 

The closing hole has a blind tee shot, such is the severity of the ascending fairway. On the tee box, players will see shoots of water penetrating the horizon, belonging to an extravagant fountain, located in a large lake to the left of the fairway. 

 

Your drive should be as close to this hazard as possible, as this leaves the shorter approach to the green. The right-to-left sloping fairway promotes a draw, so players need to play a controlled shot if they wish to be putting for eagle. 

 

Players can cut the corner, leaving a shorter approach, although only the bravest (or foolish, depending which way you look at it) or most skilled players will fancy it.

 

 

 

Verdict

 

The Palmer Course at the K Club combines American deisgn with Irish natural beauty. It is a tough layout - long, with lots of water - but it is a fair test. 

 

It enjoys a serene setting, matched by the opulent hotel. A memorable course, matched by superb hospitality. 

 

Par: 72
Length: 7,350 yards (blues) 6,815 (whites) 6,240 (green) 5,131 (red)
Green fees: €90 - €240

 

Links: The K Club
The Irish Open