UK Ryder Cup Venues

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This September sees the renewal of one of the most keenly contested rivalries in any sport as the world’s top golfers do battle in the Ryder Cup.

The 2018 offering of the bi-annual clash between Europe and the USA heads for France, taking place across three days at the Albatros Course at Le Golf National. However, the epic battles fought between the two sides have frequently been contested at some of the finest courses in the UK. Indeed, prior to 1979 the Ryder Cup was a Great Britain & Ireland vs USA contest, before the remainder of mainland Europe were added to the line-up, meaning that all non-American hosting duties were on the British Isles until Valderrama in 1997.

So if you fancy pitting your skills at the same Ryder Cup courses to have been graced by some genuine legends of the game, take a look at the best the UK has to offer.

Moortown Golf Club, Leeds

Moortown Golf Club

Moortown Golf Club in Leeds had the pleasure of being the very first host of a Ryder Cup match on British soil way back in 1929.

Although the only time Moortown has hosted the tournament, it can also claim to be the venue at which the very first defeat was inflicted upon the USA team.

George Duncan was tasked with captaining the side at a time when the captains were also team members. Duncan had a long rivalry with opposite number, American captain Walter Hagen, who had pipped Duncan to the British Open title in 1922. Hagen captained the US team for the first six Ryder Cups contested and controversially believed that competing head to head with Duncan would secure the point needed for the Americans to seal the victory. He was wrong and Great Britain triumphed 7-5.

Moortown remains a course of excellent quality, regularly used for Open Championship qualifying rounds. So if you fancy the warmth of a Yorkshire welcome and the chance to step into the shoes of Britain’s very first Ryder Cup heroes, Moortown is the place to choose.

S&A (Southport & Ainsdale), Ainsdale

Southport & Ainsdale Golf Club, more commonly abbreviated to S&A. had the honour to be the first club to host the Ryder Cup on more than one occasion, doing so in 1933 and 1937.

In 1933, Great Britain edged out their opponents 6 ½ to 5 1/2. In a dramatic final pairing, Syd Easterbrook holed out at the 18th while his opponent, Densmore Shute three-putted to let the British team emerge victorious.

When the tournament returned in 1937, American Captain Walter Hagen finally recorded a US victory on British soil, the first ever success for a visiting team and a triumphant way for him to end his six successive captaincies.

The S&A course remains a highly popular course, hosting many Lancashire Amateur championships and remaining today as a qualifying course for the Open Championship. With its wonderful Ryder Cup links and superb location neighbouring Royal Birkdale, at just 16 miles north of Liverpool, S&A makes a fine location for a history fuelled golf break.

Ganton, North Yorkshire

Ganton Golf Club

Ganton Golf Club near Scarbough was the first British venue to host the Ryder Cup since the end of World War II, with Charles Whitcombe captaining the British team in 1949.

Whitcombe had failed to bring home the trophy in each of his three previous attempts and despite a strong start, his side was unable to regain the trophy at Ganton. With only two victors in the eight singles matches, the US triumphed by two points.

The rivalry between the two sides had now started to heat up. It was a fourth straight American victory and Whitcombe and opposite number Ben Hogan had become involved in a war of words over the use of illegal clubs, and it could be argued that Ganton was the venue where the fierce rivalry between the sides really started to form.

Ganton itself offers a great challenge of championship standards, with some unforgiving gorse and harsh bunkers. With its location so close to Scarborough, this is a course that offers a wonderful location for a break that lets you step into the shoes of the duelling captains of the Ryder Cup of yesteryear.

Wentworth, Surrey

Wentworth Club

Wentworth today is known as the home of the PGA and so it’s only fitting that it too has a historical attachment to the Ryder Cup.

In 1953, Henry Cotton took charge of the British team as they went in search of their first victory for 20 years. Hopes were high due to the absence from the American team of Ben Hogan, who had won three majors that year. It wasn’t to be however. Recovering from losing three of the foursomes proved too much of an uphill struggle and Great Britain would lose by a point, leaving Cotton to join the growing list of unsuccessful British captains.

Today, Wentworth regularly hosts the PGA tournament and is to many the home of golf on these shores. With its excellent Surrey location, anybody securing a round here will find themselves enjoying an iconic golf course and sharing a piece of Ryder Cup history.

Lindrick, West Riding

Lindrick golf club

Lindrick Golf Club in West Riding not only had the honour of hosting the Ryder Cup – it also witnessed Great Britain’s largest victory to that point and their first for 24 years.

Dai Rees had become the first Welshman to take the captaincy reigns in 1955 when the British team lost 8-4 in California, the closest duel to date on American soil. When the tournament came to Yorkshire in 1957, Rees fired up his charges, and the crowd, as the rivalry was taken to greater heights.

Winning six of the eight singles matches, Britain claimed the trophy amid American complaints about the raucous nature of the watching crowd.

Lindrick is a glorious course of heathland and moorland. Set in the heart of Yorkshire, it offers testing golf for an inland break while allowing you to step into the shoes of yesteryear’s Ryder Cup heroes, who claimed the only trophy success in the middle of 52 years of American dominance.

Royal Lytham, Lytham

Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club

The historic course of Royal Lytham St Annes has hosted Ryder Cup rivalries on two very different occasions, but both with predictable results.

In 1961, the tournament took on a format more recognisable to modern golfers. The points on offer doubled to 24, while the contests were fought over 18 holes as opposed to the previous 36. Despite the change, Britain took a hefty loss in 1961, with future legend Arnold Palmer making his Ryder Cup debut for America and dominating proceedings for the visitors as they cruised to a 14 ½ to 9 ½ victory.

The tournament returned in 1977 and was subject to more alterations, with the previous event having had 32 points up for grabs – most of them taken by the Americans. Now reduced to a 20 point contest, the British team was once again swept aside.

Royal Lytham has hosted some truly legendary names across its two hosting occasions. That 1977 encounter saw the likes of Nick Faldo, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson do battle in the last event before the Europeans joined the fray, so there’s no better place to take a round or two and walk in the shadow of genuine Ryder Cup history.

Royal Birkdale, Lancashire

Royal Birkdale is one of the finest links courses in Britain and so it is only right that it should have been given the honour of hosting the Ryder Cup.

In 1965 Britain started brightly but ended up comfortably beaten by Harry Weetman’s team. However, Royal Birkdale hosted once again in 1969 in a closer and more controversial event that continued to stoke the rivalry between the sides in one of the most memorable battles.

Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin were the final pairing in the closest battle seen in years. With the pair level and the match level, Nicklaus holed out for a birdie at the final hole, meaning Jacklin needed to sink his putt for a 16-16 tie. With the Americans holding on to the trophy with a draw, Nicklaus showed unprecedented sportsmanship by picking up Jacklin’s marker rather than making him putt out. It was a truly historical gesture, but infuriated American captain Sam Snead, who insisted that his team wanted to win, not retain the tournament while making friends.

Royal Birkdale is a glorious Lancastrian course, and in playing here you truly will be stepping back in time to one of the most memorable moments in golfing history.

Muirfield, East Lothian

Muirfield (Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers)

Muirfield had the honour of being the first Scottish course to play host to the Ryder Cup, welcoming the two teams in 1973.

The challenging links course sadly didn’t witness an end to the American dominance. Despite starting well, Bernard Hunt’s team were brushed aside 19-13, the giants of the game such as Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer proving way too much for the home favourites.

Although the event was unsuccessful in terms of Great Britain’s attempts to end an American winning run that by now stretched 16 years, Muirfield can claim to have hosted a particular piece of Ryder Cup history. Peter Butler, drafted in when Bernard Gallacher was struck down mid-event by food poisoning, claimed the first ever Ryder Cup hole-in-one.

So if you’re planning a golf trip to Scotland, Muirfield is a club of firsts in Ryder Cup annals, with the now re-designed 16th offering you the chance to try and match Butler’s particular piece of Cup history.

Walton Heath, Surrey

Walton Heath Golf Club

The visually stunning Walton Heath Golf Club hosted the Ryder Cup in 1981. It’s another course that can claim a unique piece of tournament history, being the first course in the UK to hold the tournament after the addition of the Europeans to the British & Irish line-up.

The spoils yet again went to the Americans, and in some style. Their line-up could lay claim to having won 36 Majors between them, so it was no surprise that the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson were able to brush aside the European challenge 18 ½ to 9 ½.

Walton Heath hadn’t been intended as hosts in 1981. That honour had been planned for the Belfry, but building delays meant a late switch. Nonetheless, Walton was a fine course and witnessed some stunning golf from one of America’s golden generations.

Walton Heath has been consistently included in the world’s top 100 courses lists. If you feel like testing your skills on a Ryder Cup course that witnessed some of the finest ever rounds, with its location so close to the capital, Walton Heath is a perfect choice.

The Belfry, Warwickshire

The belfry golf course

Having missed out on its debut hosting in 1981, the Ryder Cup finally came to The Belfry in 1985. The venue effectively became the European home of the tournament for the next two decades and finally witnessed the coming of age of European golf.

Europe ended 28 years of hurt with a stunning victory. Tony Jacklin skippered some of the finest talents of the modern game, the likes of Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Sandy Lyle all at the peak of their powers. An emotional Sam Torrance holed the crucial put to ensure victory, and the total dominance of one side was finally ended in arguably the most fondly remembered event in the tournament’s rich history.

Europe retained the trophy with an ill-tempered tie at the Belfry in 1989 in the last of Tony Jacklin’s four events as captain. In 1993, America claimed victory by two points, skipper Bernard Gallacher’s decision to rest Seve Ballesteros and Bernard Langer proving costly. After heading to Spain in 1997, the tournament returned to the Belfry one more time in 2002, Sam Torrance captaining Europe to a three point victory.

The Brabazon Course at The Belfry became synonymous with the resurgence of European golf and the popularity of the Ryder Cup. With so much history and so many of the greats doing battle here, The Belfry is the ultimate choice for a Ryder Cup-fuelled golfing trip to remember.

K Club, County Kildare

The K Club

The K Club in the beautiful County Kildare boasts its own piece of Ryder Cup history. Despite the tournament being contested by Great Britain and Ireland prior to Europe’s inclusion, the Republic of Ireland had never hosted an event until it arrived at Straffan in 2006.

Not only did the K Club become the first ever Irish hosts, it also witnessed the highest ever score on European shores by the European team, with Ian Woosnam skippering the side to a mammoth 18 ½ to 9 ½ victory.

The K Club’s claims to Ryder Cup records didn’t stop there. Europe’s win was their third consecutive success, another first, and it was also the first time that they had claimed victory in all five sessions.

With all the joys of the traditionally friendly Irish welcome, along with a stunning woodland course designed by no less than American legend Arnold Palmer, the K Club is an excellent choice for testing your game on a course that holds a very special place in European Ryder Cup history.

Celtic Manor, Newport

Celtic Manor Resort Golf Course

In 2010 it was the turn of the magnificent Celtic Manor Golf Club in Newport to write its own piece of Ryder Cup history as it became the first Welsh club to take over hosting duties.

Fittingly for a debut host, the European team delivered an excellent tournament for Celtic Manor as they regained the trophy lost two years previously with a nail-biting 14 ½ to 13 ½ victory.

In 2008, Nick Faldo’s side had suffered their worst defeat in 27 years in Kentucky. It was Ryder Cup legend Colin Montgomerie who was handed the task of regrouping for the European assault, and he delivered in style in a rain-affected match that had everybody on the edge of their seat on the extended final day. Graeme McDowell was the hero of 2010, winning the vital final match against Hunter Mahan.

Celtic Manor was designed specifically for hosting the 2010 Ryder Cup, so as golfing breaks go it represents an ideal choice as a genuine Ryder Cup experience.

Gleneagles, Perth & Kinross

The Gleneagles Hotel

Gleneagles finally got to host a Ryder Cup clash in 2014. It became the first Scottish club since Muirfield in 1973 to stage the event and in doing so became the first Scottish club to host since mainland Europe joined the line-up.

Paul McGinley took up skippering duties as Europe claimed a five point victory and ensured a fifth consecutive win on home soil, still a record to this day.

It was a 38-year-old rookie, Welshman Jamie Donaldson, who sank the decisive put to ensure Europe’s win at Gleneagles. The American team contained an array of talent from the modern era, but even the likes of Jordan Speith, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson were unable to tame Europe’s finest.

Gleneagles occupies a beautiful spot in Perthshire. The Jack Nicklaus designed course remains the only Scottish venue to have witnessed a European Ryder Cup victory, so a golfing trip here is an ideal way to sample some genuine Ryder Cup history.