5 Ryder Cup-connected Courses!

A perfectly legitimate theme to feature in this blog would have been to list some Ryder Cup venues, because for most of the history of the matches the event has been played on consistently outstanding courses. We do include one official host of the matches, but it is one that usually escapes everyone’s attention (despite the fact it has actually staged the Cup on two occasions). Otherwise, we’ve gone beyond the obvious and selected courses with connections to the Ryder Cup of which you may not be aware. Happily, they also all happen to be fine courses we think you’ll enjoy playing.

1. Southport & Ainsdale, Lancs

What’s the Ryder Cup connection?
Southport & Ainsdale generally flies under the radar as a Ryder Cup host, perhaps as a result of being so close to other venues Birkdale and Lytham. Yet it has hosted the Cup not once but twice, in 1933 and 1937.

Where can I find it?
Off the A565, next to Hillside (which adjoins Birkdale), to the south of Southport.

What type of course will I discover?
One of Britain’s premier links, S&A is ranked 90th in our Golf World Top 100 Golf Courses: GB&I. Set among dunes that house ‘England’s Golf Coast’ – a raft of strong links – it was laid out by James Braid in 1906. Gorse and heather add to the usual linksy features.

What’s the signature hole?
The 16th is called ‘Gumbleys’ and begins with a drive towards sleeper-lined bunkers 300 yards away. Then there is a blind second over a 20ft bank of sleepers to a narrow green.

Contact: www.sandagolfclub.co.uk

The 10th green at Southport & Ainsdale.

The 10th green at Southport & Ainsdale.

2. Verulam, Hertfordshire

What’s the Ryder Cup connection?
Samuel Ryder moved to St Albans from Lancashire to start a seed business, and was advised to take up golf by his church minister after illness. He joined Verulam in 1909 and was Captain by 1911, and also in ’26 and ’27. 

Where can I find it?
On London Road (A1081), a mile south-east of the centre of St Albans, Hertfordshire.

What type of course will I discover?
Verulam (in Roman times, St Albans was known as Verulamium) was designed by Braid a year earlier than his work at S&A. This parkland isn’t long by modern standards at 6,429 yards, but tight fairways and small, undulating greens keep it challenging.

What’s the signature hole?
The River Ver is on the right of the 14th while a ridge crosses the fairway 100 yards from a well-bunkered green that is raised so high you can’t see the surface from the fairway.

Contact: www.verulamgolf.co.uk

Verulam Golf Club, in Hertfordshire, England.

Verulam Golf Club, in Hertfordshire, England.

3. Wentworth (East), Surrey

What’s the Ryder Cup connection?
In June 1926, on the newly-opened East, teams of British and US-based pros played at Ryder’s invitation. It was not official; while half the US team lived there, they were not born there. However, the story had begun...

Where can I find it?
In Virginia Water, south-west of Staines, between the A30 and the M3.

What type of course will I discover?
Now overshadowed by the West but the East was the first course at Wentworth – and might now better embody the heathland challenge Harry Colt envisaged for the site. The East is draped over undulating, springy turf and asks for accuracy between the trees.

What’s the signature hole?
There is a tremendous collection of short holes on the East but the gorgeous 12th is the pick; just 159 yards, played to a narrow undulating green protected by lots of sand.

Contact: www.wentworthclub.com

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4. Came Down, Dorset

What’s the Ryder Cup connection?
Ryder holidayed in Dorset and often played Came Down with its pro Ernest Whitcombe. During this time it’s thought the idea for the Cup was born. In 1935, Ernest plus brothers Reg and Charles, all played in the Ryder Cup.

Where can I find it?
In Dorset, between Dorchester and Weymouth, off the A354.

What type of course will I discover?
Overlooks Dorchester and Portland Harbour (the Olympic sailing venue). This moorland-style course is just 6,200 yards but is usually swept by a strong breeze due to its lofty location. Tom Dunn, JH Taylor and Harry Colt have all played a part in the layout.

What’s the signature hole?
The ‘short’ 6th – a proper hit at 231 yards, and 220 off even the yellows – is played over a valley to a well-guarded green. The 407-yard 7th to a sunken green is also superb.

Contact: www.camedowngolfclub.co.uk

The 1st hole at Came Down Golf Club in Dorset, England.

The 1st hole at Came Down Golf Club in Dorset, England.

5. Stockport, Lancashire

What’s the Ryder Cup connection?
In 1929, between The Open at Muirfield and the Ryder Cup at Moortown, the US team were lured here by The Guardian to play a team of local amateurs. Sarazen lost but Hagen’s late rally saved America’s blushes.

Where can I find it?
South east of the town off the A6, close to Cheshire’s border with Derbyshire.

What type of course will I discover?
Sandy Herd, the 1902 Open champion, routed the course through woodland. An Open Regional Qualifier, it begins in exacting fashion with a 463-yard dog-leg with bunkers on the edge of the corner and a     green that delights in rejecting approaches. 

What’s the signature hole?
The 8th is a 201-yard par 3 with out of bounds to the right and beyond the green. Trees around the tee shelter it... but your ball will be hit by the wind.

Contact: www.stockportgolf.co.uk

The 16th green at Stockport Golf Club in England.

The 16th green at Stockport Golf Club in England.





Nick Wright