The clubhouse at the Smurfit Course at The K Club
When one thinks of the K Club, understandably, one automatically thinks of the Palmer course, home of the Ryder Cup in 2006, the venue for last year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and numerous European Opens.
However sister course to the Palmer is the Smurfit Course, and while also designed by the Palmer Course Design Company, the designers were given a very specific brief when they sat down to begin their work on the K Club’s second course.
The philosophy in developing the Smurfit course was to ensure that “a comparison with the existing Palmer Ryder Cup Course would be difficult and that golfers experience would be completely different.”
And the designers certainly fulfilled their brief.
While a lot of cash was poured into the Palmer Course for last year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, and what an overwhelming success that turned out to be with Rory McIlroy winning with those two magnificent shots on the 16 and 18 holes, the second being awarded the shot of 2016, major money is now being pumped into the Smurfit Course to bring it back up to the highest standard imaginable.
Of course the Smurfit Course, while possibly over shadowed by its more prestigious sister course due to its association with The Ryder Cup, nevertheless the Smurfit is regarded in it's own right as a course right up there with the best of them, it hosted the European Open on three occasions, 2004, 2006 and 2007. Retief Goosen winning in 2004, who just two weeks previously had won the US Open; Stephen Dodds won in 2006 while Colin Montgomerie triumphed in 2006.
Over the last while the Smurfit Course has come in for special treatment by course staff as The K Club Director of Golf, Sharon Smurfit, explains.
“In 2016 alone drainage works were carried out on eight holes, over an area of some 3,000m; over seeding of fairways improved grass composition; 1,000 tonnes of sand to top dress fairways, 300 tonnes of bunker sand applied, amongst many, many other improvement works.”
And these improvement works are continuing as we go into 2017 with additional drainage work; additional top dressing to fairways; various new and improved signage, seating, and much more.
Sharon Smurfit who has been Director of Golf now for four years at The K Club insists “that while most of our US visitors come initially to play The Palmer Course, once they have experienced The Smurfit, they, more times than not, insist on playing it a second and a third time, such is the experience they have enjoyed.”
There are many, what can only be described as ‘special holes’ on the Smurfit Course including the 3rd (Kingfisher Realm); the 4th (Heron Pond); 8th (Swallow Quarry) 16th (Little Grebe Dive); 17th (Otter’s Holt) and of course the 18th with the tag of Swan Island.
Such is the growing popularity of The Smurfit Course that membership is now available exclusively for The Smurfit Club alone and it is proving very popular.
The Smurfit Club has its own committee, including Captain and Lady Captain and club officers.
A very active social membership with many and varied functions held throughout the year. Membership of the Smurfit Club is €1,550 for gents (including all levies) while there is presently an introductory offer for ladies of €950.
The Smurfit Course is a very popular venue for both societies and green fees, also, insists Sharon Smurfit.
“We get a lot of societies playing year in and year out, a lot of repeat bookings, especially from rugby and GAA groups; it is very good value and there are various packages to suit all groups.”
Weddings have become a very popular venue at the Smurfit complex with the Legacy Suite capable of seating up to 450 guests and is also a very popular venue for various conferences and functions, small and large.
So while most golfers instantly think of the Palmer Course when The K Club is mentioned, there is no doubt that the designers of the Smurfit Course certainly fulfilled their mandate to design a course that would offer golfers a completely different experience and this they undoubtedly did.
A gem of a course, just waiting to be experienced!