A Trip to Ireland — Day Three: The K Club

A Trip to Ireland (a seven day series) — Day Three: The K Club


Amazing golf is most often held on amazing courses. Think about Tiger Woods’ breakthrough victory at Augusta National, Bobby Jones’ completion of the Grand Slam at Merion Golf and Country Club, or Jack Nicklaus’ win at Pebble Beach in 1972. Not only were these stunning examples of great golf, but also of epic battles played on tremendous courses.

Which is what makes the K Club in Ireland so disappointing.

After playing the quirky The Island and the wonderful Portmarnock, our group of golfaholics took our rental car and drove about an hour south of Dublin to the opulent K Club facility. It was the K Club’s Arnold Palmer design which was scheduled to hold the 2006 Ryder Cup. Tom Lehman, who would captain the U.S. squad that eventually fell well short in its attempt to win the cup, told me in the summer of 2005 that the club was well suited for the event.

“It is a really good match-play club,” Lehman told the National Post this summer. “I think it will work out really well.”

The K Club is certainly a pretty, wonderfully manicured golf facility. There are two courses at the multi-million-dollar resort, the best-known of which was designed by Arnold Palmer and his golf architecture director, Ed Seay. Both courses feature big trees, waterfalls and Augusta-style putting surfaces. Nary a blade of grass is out of place. Even the golf carts that punctuate the fairways seem to have a shine to them.

But that doesn’t make the K Club a great venue for the Ryder Cup. Or even a good one. What it does is make the club expensive — around $400 per round for visitors. And for most North Americans, they’ll have played better golf parkland courses in Canada or the U.S.

That’s not to say the course is entirely without its attractions. With a routing that was different than that used for the Ryder Cup, golfers opened on a par five with a nasty large bunker cutting across a wide area of fairway. It struck me as the kind of hazard that good golfers hardly notice, but that hurts average or weaker golfers. It was also indicative of a lot of the K Club.

The best holes at the club provide wide driving areas and subtle greens surrounded by mounds and trees. There’s always the feeling that something unnatural is going on at the K Club, which is a shame considering the resplendent site it is situated on.

After our disappointing experience, we made a trip to our hotel that [photopress:rathsallagh_house.jpg,full,alignright]night, the remarkable Rathsallagh House Hotel, an 18th century Queen Anne-style home that has been turned into world class accomodation. The rooms that ooze character, a terrific dining room, a good, lay of the land golf course and service that was friendly, Rathsallagh House more than helped us recover from the disappointment of the K Club. The golf course, designed on a hilly parkland site by Christy O’Connor Jr. (which we toured, but did not play), looked like it might actually be more fun than the K Club for a fraction of the price. Needless to say, after a wet and windy day at the K Club, we were just pleased to be situated in such a remarkable hotel.

The Details:

The K Club

Type Price
Green Fees(Non resident) ‚¬370.00
Green Fees(Resident) ‚¬275.00
Group Non Residential (20 or more golf only) ‚¬230.00
Group Residential ‚¬180.00
Accompanied Guest ‚¬165.00
Unaccompanied Guest ‚¬180.00

Rathsallagh House Hotel

Bed & Breakfast 2006
Standard Room
Superior Room
Single room midweek
Dinner (5 Course Meal incl., Tea & Coffee )
‚¬ 135
‚¬ 160
‚¬ 185
‚¬ 65

Accommodation Specials Bed & Breakfast
2 Nights
Standard Room
Superior Room ‚¬ 255
‚¬ 300

Tomorrow: The European Club and Druids Glen

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Robert,

    Thank you very much for sharing your experience and views on Ireland, a destination that’s right at the top of my “future vacation” list.

    I also love the insight given on your accomodations in each town and your experiences off the course. Even though the golf is off-the-charts fantastic (the K-Club excluded), I hear that one of the major reasons people continue to go back to Ireland is because of the great people (a lot of ‘characters’) you meet during the trip. They are great storytellers, from what I’ve been told.

    Thanks again and all the best,

  • Ahhh Ireland!

    Ireland is really the only country that intrigues me right now. The rolling green hills, the abandoned castles, the rocky cliffs.. going to the pub.

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