The K Club Golf Course

The K Club

Straffan, IRELAND: Golfers appear during the second round of the Smurfit Kappa European Open at the K Club in Straffan, Co Kildare, Ireland 07 July 2006. AFP PHOTO/Peter MUHLY (Photo credit should read PETER MUHLY/AFP/Getty Images)

The Kildare Hotel and Golf Club, the K Club, was the venue of the European Open fro 13 years from 1995 until 2007. The event has been contested on both Arnold Palmer-designed courses – the Palmer Course, completed in 1990 and the newer Smurfit Course, venue of the European Open in 2004, 2006 and 2007.

The Palmer Course, an American-style Parkland course, hosted Ireland’s first Ryder Cup Matches in 2006, and is known to have the country’s most challenging inland layout. The Smurfit Course, named so after one of the co-owners, is said to be an inland links course.

History of the K Club

Media entrepreneur Michael Smurfit had long had the vision of a world-class hotel and golf course in Ireland, and after an extensive property hunt he was shown the ancient Straffan Estate.

The estate is situated in the bustling village of Straffan, only a few miles off the N4 and about 20 miles west of Dublin, on the banks of the River Liffey. It dates back to 1171 when Richard de Clare or “Strongbow”, the second Earl of Pembroke, granted the land to the Fitzgerald family.

Since then it has passed through the hands of earls and dukes, Anglo Saxon military men, and more recently, famous Irish families. The most prominent of these was the Barton family, who also boasted large wineries in the Bordeaux region. The manor house was consequently re-designed after a French chateau, and a campanile tower still reveals the European influence today.Smurfit bought the estate in 1988 for a meagre £7 million and immediately set about creating a golf course and hotel which could host top international events with ease. He spent to the tune of £35 million, but was quickly rewarded when his intense lobbying for the European Open golf tournament paid off. Before the Palmer Course had even been completed, the K-Club was chosen to host the most illustrious golf event of the European Tour after the majors and the World Golf Championships.

Facilities of the K Club

Apart from the two superlative golf courses, the K-club has the only Grade AA 5 Red Star Hotel in Ireland. The Manor House has been beautifully restored and reflects both the English and French influences so prominent in Ireland.

Some of the masterworks on display include English hand-made wall paper, Georgian fireplaces, French weave rugs, Waterford chandeliers and reproduction Chippendale furniture. There is also an extensive collection of paintings by the brother of the famed poet, W B Yeats, Jack B Yeats.