McIlroy and The K Club Host the Irish Open

The K Club Ireland (Image: The K Club)

The K Club is home to two Arnold Palmer-designed courses. (Image: The K Club)

Famous as the site of the 2006 Ryder Cup, The K Club is joining forces with native son Rory McIlroy to host the 2016 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

What do you do for an encore once you’ve celebrated a Ryder Cup?

For the The K Club, the answer is to join forces with Rory McIlroy in hosting the 2016 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, one of the European Tour’s most popular events. Last year’s ‘sold out’ tournament at Northern Ireland’s Royal County Down attracted more than 100,000 fans.

On behalf of his charity, the Rory Foundation, McIlroy has signed on through 2018 as the official host of a tournament that dates back to 1927. This year’s Irish Open, May 19 to 22, will be the first time The K Club has held the championship and comes ten years after the luxury resort staged the 2006 Ryder Cup, when captain Ian Woosnam led Europe to a dominating victory over the United States. The K Club is also celebrating the 25th anniversary of its opening in 1991.

Irish Open 2016 at The K Club (Image: Irish Open)

Rory McIlroy is the host and headliner of this year’s Irish Open. (Image: Irish Open)

Along with McIlroy, the field includes Masters champion Danny Willett, Lee Westwood and Irish stars Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell.

Set on the rolling grounds of a vast estate 32 kilometres west of Dublin in County Kildare, The K Club features two excellent courses. The older Palmer Ryder Cup Course skirts the River Liffey and winds around Straffan House, a stately 18th century mansion that has been turned into an extravagantly posh hotel filled with paintings, statues and a winding staircase. Architect Arnold Palmer moved one million tonnes of earth in building a go-for-broke, 7,178-yard course that constantly challenges golfers with doglegs and water hazards.

The K Club’s second layout, the Smurfit Course (named after the resort’s billionaire English-born owner, Michael Smurfit) was routed by Palmer’s team through a flat and largely treeless pasture on the opposite side of the Liffey. About 22 acres of snaking water hazards have been worked into a 7,300-yard inland links-style design that dramatically concludes with a perilous approach to an island green on the par-five 18th hole.

More than $29.6-million(CDN) has been spent on recent renovations to The K Club. Work started in earnest when Smurfit became the property’s sole owner in 2012. New additions include all-weather tennis courts, a Thai restaurant, and a bar named after Smurfit’s Melbourne Cup-winning horse, Media Puzzle. But the biggest addition was the new Liffey Wing, holding 70 of the resort’s total of 140 rooms and built in the same style as the original mansion.

Though best known as the site of the 2006 Ryder Cup, The K Club also hosted the European Open from 1995 to 2007, an event whose winners included major champions Michael Campbell, Darren Clarke, Retief Goosen and Bernhard Langer.

As well as golf, The K Club offers fly-fishing, horseback riding, falconry and archery.

Click here for information about tickets to the 2016 Irish Open.