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Ireland's K Club revels in Ryder Cup respect, but there are other fine golf courses nearby

By S. Adam Cardais,
The K Club in Ireland
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Since opening in 1991 the K Club has made a name for itself as the most challenging inlaid layout in Ireland. (Courtesy of kclub.ie)

The upcoming 36th Ryder Cup is expected to be one of the most unusual in recent years, in part because it's the event's first time in Ireland.

The American and European teams are now set and they will face off Sept. 22-24 at the K Club in County Kildare. Since opening in 1991 the golf course has made a name for itself as the most challenging inlaid layout in Ireland.

"The K Club is golf-oriented opulence and unadulterated luxury at its very best," Ken Johnstone wrote in his TravelGolf.com review.

That's saying something in a country steeped in golf tradition. Indeed, Ireland is full of storied courses, many, like the K Club, in the counties surrounding Dublin. Here are some of the best, starting with the club readying for its Ryder Cup close-up.

The K Club - Palmer Course

The K Club's Palmer Course was designed to combine championship golf with serious resort luxury, and it has lived up that goal.

The centerpiece of the complex is magisterial Straffan House, transformed into a truly world-class hotel. Arnold Palmer was employed to design the golf course. Asked upon completion if anything could still be done to improve the track, Arnie replied, "We could draw and plan for 100 years and still not come up with as good a vision."

Druids Glen Golf Resort

Located in Dublin, the Pat Ruddy/Tom Craddock-designed Druids Glen Golf Resort hosted the Irish Open from 1996 to 1999. The club has two tracks, the Druids Glen course and Druids Heath course, the latter of which sits perches above the Irish Sea.

Royal Dublin Golf Club

The second-oldest course in Ireland and one of the most respected, Royal Dublin Golf Club dates back more than a century and has hosted numerous championship, including the Irish Open from 1983 to '85. It reopened May 1 after completion of the final phase of an upgrade that saw the redesign of the sixth, seventh and eighth holes.

Mount Juliet Golf Club

A Jack Nicklaus design, Mount Juliet Golf Club can be found in the village of Thomastown about 75 miles from Dublin in County Kilkenny. It has hosted the Irish Open three times since opening in 1991 and counts the likes of Nick Faldo among its past champions.

"The course is more than 7,100 yards of rolling, tree-lined terrain, with diabolical pins placed on heavily contoured greens, and a virulent strain of rough in which locating and then extricating one's golf ball are a two-part puzzle," Joel Zuckerman wrote in a WorldGolf.com review. "The pros in attendance made it look easy, as they so often do."

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Royal Dublin Golf Club - clubhouseDruids Glen Golf Resort - Druids Glen course
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