Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Special K

In less than two weeks the attention of the sporting world will be firmly focused on the majestic K Club in Co Kildare when 24 of the world's greatest golfers fight it out for trans-Atlantic glory.

In less than two weeks the attention of the sporting world will be firmly focused on the majestic K Club in Co Kildare when 24 of the world's greatest golfers fight it out for trans-Atlantic glory.

Developed on the site of a Norman settlement, the club was the brainchild of Michael Smurfitt, who had the manor house transformed into Ireland's most exclusive hotel, surrounded by a US-style country club.

Smurfitt's dream was always to play host to the Ryder Cup.

And that dream will finally be realised when the world's finest players start arriving in this tiny corner of Ireland for practice, four days before golf's premier tournament tees off on September 22.

When Tiger Woods, Darren Clarke and the rest of the world's finest golfers are choppered into the club, outside the tiny village of Straffan, the hotel will be off limits to the prying public.

What they won't see is the game's superstars relaxing away from the golf course in their sumptuous five-star surroundings.

The luxury resort is set in 550 acres of Co Kildare countryside, with the River Liffey winding through the estate.

Golfing legend Arnold Palmer was commissioned to design one of the two championship courses on the estate, and it will be his course that is used when the Ryder Cup finally gets underway.

However, Palmer's course has been toughened up since Dungannon-born Clarke tore up the fairways with a remarkable round of 60 in 1999.

Away from the fairways and the driving range, there'll be no shortage of ways for the players of Team America and Team Europe to relax.

As well as boasting three award-winning restaurants and activities including shooting, fly-fishing and horseriding, the K Club also has an exclusive spa which has everything the pampered golfer could need.

If, say, Colin Montgomerie had one of his more stressful days on the course, he could chill out in the spa's aromatic herb garden.

And if that didn't balance his ying and his yang, Monty could slip into the outdoor hot tub, surrounded by the relaxing 'zen garden'.

For the duration of the Ryder Cup, the hotel is restricted to the two teams.

Outside of the tournament, a basic room in K Club, and a round of golf on one of the two courses, would cost the average couple around £750-a-night.

And a visitor just hoping to play a round on the Ryder Cup course would currently have to fork out £250 for the green fees for 18 holes.

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