Imagine a Ryder Cup at These Venues
The Ryder Cup is here. I don’t know about you, but I can hardly wait.
This year the event is being played at the magnificent Marco Simone, a course that features plenty of natural vantage points for spectators. There is also lots of water, and you can be sure that the rough will be punishing.
This is a great venue for the Ryder Cup. Le Golf National, on the outskirts of Paris, was a similar venue, and the fans loved it. As did the European team, who stormed to victory.
It got me thinking about courses that would make great Ryder Cup venues.
The venue for the Players Championship is not everybody’s cup of tea, but it is one of Pete Dye’s masterpieces. It is a proper stadium course, designed with fans in mind. And what a wonderful layout this would be as a potential Ryder Cup host course. The finishing stretch is made for matchplay drama. The 16th is a par five that can be reached in two but has water all the way down the right, a massive two-tier putting surface and some horrible bunkers. The 17th is probably the most famous par three in golf with its island green. Imagine the drama. And then there is the par-four 18th hole, this time with water all the way down the left.
When you think about the Ryder Cup, images of perfectly-manicured golf courses come to mind. Throw glorious autumn weather in to the mix and it is easy to understand why some people think that the 24 players are pampered, although those who took part at Celtic Manor may disagree. Carnoustie is a fabulous golf course. Imagine what a thrilling contest we would witness if it were staged here at the end of September. I can guarantee you one thing - the Americans would not enjoy one minute of it.
Yes, I know. The Belfry last hosted the Ryder Cup in 2002, when Paul McGinley holed the winning putt. And it has been a great venue for Europe. When it was hosting the event in the 1980s the truth is that is really wasn’t good enough. It is now. Those hundreds of saplings are now fully mature trees. The Belfry is now a proper test and there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that the Ryder Cup should return there in the future. It also features probably the most dramatic finishing hole for matches that go all the way. Remember Sam Torrance’s winning putt? Or Christy O’Connor’s spectacular two iron?
Old Course, St Andrews
It’s the home of golf and it attracts massive crowds for The Open Championship. It stands to reason that world’s biggest team golf event should be played on the world’s most famous and most historic course. The crowds would turn up in record numbers to see the cream of Europe take on America’s finest. And, like several others on this list, the 17th and 18th holes are made for dramatic finishes.
A relatively modern golf course, Kingsbarns is a classic links located close to St Andrews. It is spectator friendly, with lots of natural viewing areas. It is one of the most dramatic and beautiful links layouts on the planet, with incredible facilities. Its par threes are all both testing and dramatic. A wonderful potential Ryder Cup venue.
Located in Cornwall, St Mellion is regarded by many as being the best golf course Jack Nicklaus ever designed. It used to regularly host European Tour events but many of the players didn’t like it, claiming it was too difficult. It is no such thing. It is a course upon which you definitely can’t just slash away. There are lots of banks, and that means spectators would love it. St Mellion is a proper challenge and a thing of rare beauty - and it rewards good golf shots.
One of the most iconic golf courses on the planet and yet we only get to see it once a year when it hosts The Masters. This is a golf course with drama around every twist and turn. We have seen players come to grief on an annual basis as they chase the Green Jacket. Imagine what an incredible venue it would be with that little gold trophy at stake. The back nine is fraught with danger. Think back to some of the horror stories we have witnessed at the par-three 12th, the eagles we have seen at the par-five 13th and 15th holes, the incredible holes-in-one and recovery shots at the par-three 16th. And, of course, Augusta National is perfect for spectators.
Is there a more spectacular golf course? Probably not. It is located in California, so good weather is all but guaranteed. The views are to die for. Pebble Beach features a fabulous mix of short and testing holes. We saw Dustin Johnson come to grief here during the 2010 US Open. And once again, the closing holes are designed to create gut-wrenching drama. The par-five 18th, with the Pacific Ocean on the left and a giant tree in the middle of the fairway, may well be my favourite finishing hole in all of golf.
Harbour Town hosts the RBC Heritage, won in 2023 by Matthew Fitzpatrick. Most PGA Tour players list it among their favourite locations, and it is easy to see why. The RBC always attracts big crowds. The course is short by today’s standards but the narrow fairways and small greens guarantee that nobody ever tears this place apart. It would test the teams to the limit.
One of the things that makes the Ryder Cup so special is the atmosphere generated by the partisan galleries. The likes of Patrick Reed has always risen to the occasion, even when being jeered by European fans. TPC Scottsdale is the course that hosts the WM Phoenix Open. That is the tournament that attracts vast crowds - around 200,000 on Saturday alone. Tens of thousands of them surround the par-three 16th and go crazy when a player hits it close. And give them a really hard time if they miss the green. This course and these fans were made for the Ryder Cup!
The Ryder Cup is unlike any other tournament in golf and the atmosphere is something that every golf fan should experience. The experts at Golfbreaks.com can help with all aspects of your Ryder Cup experience, from accommodation and ticket packages to hospitality and travel and playing some of the fantastic nearby courses.
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