K Club tees up Irish Open with €20m refurbishment
When the Ryder Cup came to the K Club in 2006, the Kildare course secured its place overnight within the firmament of the world's finest golfing destinations.
For the K Club's creator and owner, Dr Michael Smurfit, the arrival of one of golf's most prestigious competitions to these shores represented a spectacular coup. For the country as a whole, the event came to serve as a symbol of our economic success.
Nine years later and with Ireland on the road to recovery in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the K Club's fortunes are once again in the ascendant as it gears up to host the 2016 Irish Open.
As part of the preparations the exclusive Straffan club has undergone a €20m programme of extension and renovation, doubling its number of guest bedrooms from 70 to 140 and adding a new bar and conference room in the process.
To mark the works' completion, Dr Smurfit hosted a black tie gala evening at the K Club on the evening of Friday, November 13 last. Over 300 guests from the worlds of business, sport, politics and entertainment turned out to witness EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan perform the official opening before sitting down for a four-course dinner and entertainment by comedian and MC Oliver Callan.
Dr Smurfit, who will celebrate his 80th birthday next year, delivered a speech before dinner in which expressed his deep pride in the K Club and his delight that it would provide the venue for next year's Irish Open.
The legendary businessman was full of praise in his speech too for golfer Rory McIlroy who only last week took first place in the European golf rankings with victory in the DP World Tour Championship. Quite apart from topping the table in Europe, McIlroy is currently number three in golf's world rankings.
The golfing fraternity was well represented on the night by The K Club's own members, former CEO of the European Tour George O'Grady and professional golfer and Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Ambassador Des Smyth and his wife Vicky.
EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan meanwhile took the opportunity to catch up with Cathaoirleach of the Seanad Paddy Burke and Labour Party Chief Whip Emmet Stagg who were among the guests at the affair.