The first play on the new South Course at the K Club course will take place on 1st July when the club will host an exclusive pro-am. The course will open for public play the following day and golf director, Paul Crowe, confirms that there are already in excess of 6,000 rounds booked for this year in advance of any marketing programme
The South Course was designed by Arnold Palmer, the designer of the current K Club course. The Palmer Course Design Company has more than 250 active projects and open golf courses, throughout the USA as well as internationally in Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Korea, China, Taiwan, Guam, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, Canada, Brazil, Costa Rica, Portugal and Venezuela.
Work on construction of the South Course began in February 2001 and was completed in October 2002. With Paul Crowe as project director, Gerry Byrne is the golf course superintendent and Eugene Hennessy his deputy. The main contractor was Fanning Contracting while the drainage contractor was Peter O’Brien & Sons and the irrigation contractor was Irish Turfcare
The first major chmpionship is scheduled to be the Smurfit European Open in 2004.
One of the characteristics this course shares with the North Course is the challenge of water hazards. Spanning a total of 180 acres, nearly a tenth of this area is accounted for by water. Apart from this aquatic emphasis, it has all the appearance and feel of an inland links, with high undulating fairways, large difficult greens and treacherous rough. The bunkering on the new course is also more extreme than that of the North Course.
The course will have many great holes, the most dramatic of which will most certainly be the 7th hole – ‘Swallow Quarry’. Measuring 600 yards, this par 5, with its length and heavily bunkered green, will challenge the best. Most dramatic, however, is the man-made rock-face running all along the golf hole and rising 60 ft out of the lake that borders the right-hand side of the fairway. Within this rock-face a series of waterfalls and cascades have been constructed. Credit for the design of this hole goes to Dr Smurfit who devised the concept and layout.
With a maximum length of 7,277 yards from the back tees the course will, however, accommodate all levels of player; with four or five tees on each hole the overall length can be considerably reduced to as little as 6,344 yards.
Work has started on a new clubhouse for the South Course, due for opening in 2004. There will also be substantial real estate development beside the new course. Planning has been received for 83 properties.
Paul Crowe says, “ Having managed the development of this project through its conception, construction and now its opening, I feel very proud of what our team has achieved here. This is a very exciting golf course, which has surpassed our expectations.
“It is a true championship golf course in every sense. Our intention was to create something on par with or better than the North Course and we have definitely succeeded.
“Because the South Course is so unique comparison with the North Course is difficult. The golfer is provided with two distinctly different experiences. In time I believe this course will be rated among the best in Europe, if not the world “
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