RYDER CUP COURSE GUIDE -
The Ryder Cup – three days of intense drama, glory and, in recent American experience, in-fighting and recrimination – will be back with us at the end of September.
This year's contest between Europe and the US will take place at the incredible Whistling Straits course in Wisconsin, a Pete Dye homage to links golf that has not less than 900 bunkers to trap the wayward golfer. Whistling Straits has some serious pedigree, having hosted the USPGA Championship three times since 2004. But it is also a public course where other, more humble, golfers can follow in the footsteps of the game's greats.
As we wind up for the 2021 edition of golf's greatest matchplay event, we take a look at some of the historic host courses on both sides of the Atlantic available for you to live your own Ryder Cup dream.
Without the excruciating pressure and the team meltdowns, we hope.
Images by www.golf.com
Kiawah Island, South Carolina
After decades of dominance, the US went into the 1991 contest on the Ocean Course at Kiawah having failed to win the cup for three straight contests. 'The War by the Shore' was the result: a tetchy, furiously competitive clash that confirmed the Ryder Cup's relevance – from an American perspective at least – as a major sporting event.
The competition was so close that it came down to a missed Bernhard Langer putt from six feet – a failure that would have broken a lesser man than the German legend. But it's fair to say a round at Kiawah could be high on such pain for the casual golfer. When the wind is up, breaking 100 is not guaranteed even if your handicap is single figure.
But even if the golf is tough then the relaxing stay at the Kiawah Island Golf resort should provide some much needed R & R.
Images by (right) fivestaralliance.com / (left) golfpass.com
PGA National, Florida
The host of the 1983 event includes an infamous three-hole run from 15-17 known as the Bear Trap, after its creator Jack Nicklaus. The US won that year, just, with their one-point victory a harbinger of the tight fights to come over the next three decades.
The course is plenty long enough (7,045 yards) and very, very watery. And like Kiawah, you'll need to stay at the resort if you want a round.
Images by pgatour.com
Pinehurst No2, North Carolina
The Ryder Cup started in 1927 and the first four wins were shared between the US and the (then) Great Britain teams. After that, GB won just the once in the next 21 events, with the 1951 contest another blow-out for the hosts by a huge seven-point margin.
It was the only time Pinehurst No2 was used for the Ryder Cup, and it's certainly more renowned as a US Open venue. But we mere golfing mortals can be (severely) tested there, the easiest way to secure a round is to stay at the resort, but bookings can sometimes be made from five days before your planned visit.
Celtic Manor, Wales
The Twenty Ten course was specifically designed for the, yep you guessed it, 2010 Ryder Cup and it lived up to the challenge, producing a down-to-the-wire contest won by Europe with the decisive point earned from the anchor match of the singles.
Rain marred much of the weekends play, forcing the final day to be moved to Monday, but the course produced thrills and spills galore thanks to its mix of risk-reward par 5s, a drivable par 4 and no fewer than five par 3s.
Images by yourgolftravel.com
Gleneagles (PGA Centenary Course), Scotland
Home of the 2014 Ryder Cup, the event was Europe's third straight win and it was a big one, by five points.
Pantomime villain Patrick Reed was one of the few American golfers to shine, with veteran star Phil Mickelson hardly covering himself in glory when he publicly criticised team captain Tom Watson in the soul-searching that followed the US defeat.
A great venue for a short break, with two courses available for visitors and those staying in the hotel. Nota bad base for a golf break in the region.
Images by (right) squaremile.com / (left) gleneagles.com
Le Golf National, France
The Gleneagles post-mortem worked for the Americans as they won at Hazeltine in 2016. But that proved to be a false dawn as they tumbled to a seven-point shellacking in France in 2018.
Euro bromances were to the fore, with none sweeter than ‘Moliwood’ – the match made in heaven that was Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood. Molinari ended with an unbeaten 5-0, Fleetwood 4-1 and as a pair they were undefeated.
For context, the great Tiger Woods failed to win a point all week (0-4) as the US 'team' bickered and bodged their way to an inglorious defeat. For around 200 Euros, you can relive that Ryder Cup and also get a taste of what's to come at Paris 2024 as Le Golf National will host the Olympic golf tournament.
Images by tennisworldusa.org