The K Club has completed its eighteen months programme of works to ensure that the Palmer Course will be at its most challenging when it plays host to Ryder Cup 2006. Director of Golf Paul Crowe has confirmed that the programme of work, which began in the Autumn of 2003 is now complete. “From here on the emphasis will be on presentation and conditioning to ensure that the course is at its very best for September 2006.”
The work began in Autumn 2003 with the remodelling of both the 3rd and the 7th holes. Work on both of these holes was completed early in 2004. The programme since then has seen the construction of new back tees on both the 4th and the 16th holes; and bunkering works on the 1st, 4th, 11th and 18th holes.
The greenside bunker complex on the 1st hole has been redeveloped and brought more into play while two pot bunkers have been added on the 18th. These will be in play for the long hitters and, given their depth, the only option will be to pitch out.
A new back tee has been constructed on the 4th hole to lengthen the hole by 15 yards. The significance of this change is that now only the longest drivers will be able confidently to carry the wooded area to the left of this demanding dog-leg.
Having increased the degree of difficulty of driving, the greenside bunker complex has also been remodelled and increased in size. The most significant aspect of this is the placement of a deep bunker immediately at the front left of the green, which significantly narrows the options approaching the green.
The greenside bunker complex on the 11th Hole has also been redeveloped with the placement of a new 7ft deep bunker close to the front left of the green.
The K Club head professional, John McHenry, came up with the concept to improve the treacherous 16th signature hole. ‘Michael’s Favourite‘, as it is known has been lengthened by 30 yards.
As John points out, however, it is not the length that is important. “We have also moved the tee to the left thus changing the angle to the fairway. Players will need to think carefully about their shot. This in fact is the thinking behind all of the changes – we want to make the players think more about the challenges facing them.”
These changes will be the last to take place before Ryder Cup. All will be in play for the Smurfit European Open this year, when Ryder Cup Captains Ian Woosnam and Tom Lehman will have a chance to see the Palmer Course in full tournament set up for the last time before the sides do battle in 2006.
Greens Superintendent, Gerry Byrne says that the intention of The K Club from an agronomy perspective is to concentrate solely on the presentation and condition of both its courses from this point on. He is delighted with the work that has been carried out – and all the more so that it was carried out entirely by the K Club’s own team. “It is wonderful what has been achieved and that is not just my view. The work has all been strongly endorsed by the Palmer Organisation.”
“While the course has been the main focus we have also put in 40,000 metres of sand slits in the areas where spectators will be accommodated. This will ensure dry conditions underfoot whatever the weather.”
Speaking on the completion of this work, Director of Golf Paul Crowe says ” The evolvement of the Palmer Course into one of golf’s great tests is now complete – well at least until after 2006! We have worked with the European Tour and Arnold Palmer’s organisation to make the changes that will make for more exciting and challenging tournament golf. I‘m sure everyone playing the course will find this also. The Palmer Course is ready to host the World’s greatest golf event”
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