CLICK ON THE HOLE NUMBER FOR THE INSIDE SCOOP
By Matt Slater
"One of Europe's most spectacular courses" or "thoroughly uninspiring and relentlessly mundane" - it seems there isn't much middle ground when it comes to discussing the merits of the K Club.
The plush County Kildare resort's
backers, and there are many, will tell you that the venue for the 36th Ryder Cup is a picturesque but punishing test of golf.
Its detractors will point to its stereotypically American nature, wallet-wincing prices
and, well, the fact that it is not one of Ireland's famously windswept and wonderful links.
Whichever view you lean towards there are surely a few things we can all agree on.
One, the course will look lovely on the telly. Two, the Americans can have no excuses about the track - it was designed by one of their own, Arnold Palmer.
Three, the traffic, though bad, will be a lot better than it would have been at most of those lovely, little courses perched on Ireland's ragged coast line.
The hotel dominates the K Club but the River Liffey is never far away
Four, the fact that some of those lovely, little courses are not renowned for their 21st century views on gender equality is perhaps not a good thing to put in Ireland's shop window.
And five, those long, watery risk/reward holes that close out the K Club card should make for some Belfry-esque drama come Sunday afternoon.
And that is surely the whole point of matchplay golf, isn't it? They're not playing the course and Old Man Par, they're playing each other, mano a mano.
There is one more thing that can be taken as a given at this golfing Xanadu, everybody from millionaire owner Dr Michael Smurfit to the resident gillie is delighted to be hosting Ireland's first ever Ryder Cup.
The pride and excitement that the K Club's staff and members have felt since the Straffan venue was awarded the biennial contest back in 1997 is obvious the moment you speak to one of them.
So perhaps I should let those who know the course best speak for themselves in the whole dreamy v dreary debate.
Please click through the hole-by-hole guide and read what some of the K Club's (most prominent) members have said about their course. And feel free to add your own
tales of Palmer Course derring-do and disaster.
YOUR K CLUB EXPERIENCES AND COMMENTS:
Some American friends and I (I'm English) played there in July. We had glorious sunshine and no breeze, so the course was no terror.
I am pleased they reversed the back and front nine so now the closing holes will be fabulous risk/reward matchplay holes. I think this course will be better than The Belfry for match swings and excitement - really looking forward to it.
South Carolina, USA
For the Pro competitions at the K Club, the front nine becomes the back nine except for holes nine and 18.
The critical holes are the 16th and 17th as the water comes into play especially if there is a breeze (ask Thomas Bjorn!)
There are no poor or ugly holes at the K Club.
The sixth is unassuming and probably won't be high up on the ladder but it is a great test of golf.
Standing on the tee you feel you must walk off with par because it is all laid out before you, downhill with the water visible and the green rising to the back you can see everything. Classic.
Great course? Well its a nice course. Some of the holes are copies of famous US courses, but don't get me wrong - it's still fantastic.
The greens are as slippery as hell but, if the course is damp, it plays very long and rotten.
Holes seven and 18 are ones to watch, while the sixteenth is a great hole - the green is evil and if you miss it (on the left, as I did), then it's goodnight!
Brussels but from Dublin
The 18th hole at the K Club holds fond memories for me. I played it with a load of lads from St Andrews on 16 March this year, starting on the eighth.
Not knowing where I was to aim, I hit a straight drive into the rough on the left. A four iron hacked out to the rough into the right rough, just past the bunkers.
From a good lie, I hit a three wood with a slight draw onto the green and it disappeared into the hole. All I can recall is three burley blokes sprinting towards me, shouting for joy. Top memory and I now have an official Baxter print of this hole on my living room wall for a reminder of my eagle.
We (two Irish and two English lads) played at the K Club in March 2005. We got a great deal on the internet, staying in the apartments there.
We played the Palmer on the first day, and England were 1-up playing the 17th (now the eighth for the Ryder Cup).
To cut a long story short, I hit a five iron that covered the flag the whole way, it struck the bottom of the pin and dropped in the hole: lots of whooping and high fives commenced.
It capped off what was already a great day in a wonderful setting. It's a fantastic set up at the 'K', and we felt privileged to be there.
EMAIL YOUR K CLUB EXPERIENCES
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