Table of Contents
- Wentworth Golf Club - Number 8
- Moortown Golf Club - Number 7
- Southport and Ainsdale Golf Club - Number 6
- Walton Heath Old Course - Number 5
- Ganton Golf Club - Number 4
- Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club - Number 3
- Royal Birkdale Golf Club - Number 2
- Muirfield - Number 1
The Ryder Cup is one of the highlights of the golf calendar. Every two years we are treated to a battle between the USA and Europe which captivates the world of golf. It had humble origins, with the USA hosting a GB team in Worcester Country Club. Since then, it has been held on some of the great courses on both sides of the Atlantic.
In recent years, European venues have tended towards large stadium style courses. The likes of Le Golf National in Paris and Celtic Manor can house tens of thousands of fans. However, it wasn’t always thus, and some of the great courses in Great Britain have held the event. Here are 8 of the best.
1953 - USA won 6.5 - 5.5
Wentworth has undergone many facelifts over the years, but it was in its prime when the Ryder Cup visited in 1953. Harry Colt designed the famed West Course and the closing pair of par 5s set up a perfect matchplay finish. Peter Alliss drove out of bounds on the 17th and fluffed a chip on the 18th, ensuring The Ryder Cup stayed with the USA for another two years.
1929 - GB won 7 - 5
Moortown is a Yorkshire gem, designed by Dr Alister MacKenzie - the architect of Augusta National. The first Ryder Cup on European soil was held here in 1929. It drew the largest crowd ever to watch a British golf event at the time, with over 15,000 people attending on the last day. They witnessed a first British win as George Duncan beat US star Walter Hagen 10 and 8 over 36 holes. Moortown’s place in history was assured.
1933 - GB won 6.5 - 5.5
1937 - USA won 8-4
The Lancashire coast has many wonderful courses and Southport & Ainsdale was a worthy host of The Ryder Cup on two occasions in the 1930s. Honours were split, with GB winning in 1933 but the USA getting revenge in 1937. The course opened in 1907, designed by George Lowe, and became a championship venue after James Braid reconfigured the course in 1927. It remains a wonderful place to play golf. Watch out for the many tricky plateau greens though.
Walton Heath Old Course
1981 - USA beat Europe 18.5 - 9.5
The US Ryder Cup team that beat Europe in 1981 at Walton Heath is considered the strongest ever to be seen. An incredible 11 of the 12 members of the US team were major champions. It was also the chance for Walton Heath to shine on the world stage. Designed by Herbert Fowler, this is a classic Surrey heathland course. There are few sights better in English golf than Walton Heath in full bloom.
1949 - USA won 7-5
Tom Chisholm of St Andrews first laid out Ganton in 1891 but the course has since been worked on by many of the greats - Braid, MacKenzie, Colt and Simpson have all left their mark. Unusually for an inland site it has a sandy base and the bunkering at Ganton is among the best anywhere in the world. The USA were behind 3-1 after the first day but Ben Hogan’s team powered to a 7-5 victory.
1961 - USA won 14.5 - 9.5
1977 - USA won 12.5 - 7.5
Royal Lytham was not a happy hunting ground for the British team in 1961 and 1977 - a period of US dominance. But while the British couldn’t prevail, they had no quibbles with the course. Lytham is a real test of golf - where ball striking and supreme execution is rewarded but if you are off your game you will be severely punished. 174 bunkers strategically placed throughout the course ensure that.
1965 - USA won 19.5 - 12.5
1969 - Tied 16-16
Royal Birkdale is one of the professionals’ favourite courses in English golf, and the USA certainly enjoyed their visit in 1965. They faced a much sterner test when they returned four years later. The competition came down to the very last match on the 18th green. Jack Nicklaus holed a four-foot putt, leaving Tony Jacklin with a two-footer to tie the whole event. Nicklaus conceded the putt in one of the great acts of sportsmanship in golf.
1973 - USA won 19 - 13
The USA were in their prime when they beat Great Britain at Muirfied in 1973. Their team was packed with stars, like Palmer, Nicklaus and Trevino and despite trailing after the first session they went on to win the event easily. But what a canvas they had to play on. Muirfield may be the finest venue ever to have held a Ryder Cup on European soil - the course is a strategic masterpiece. The front nine goes clockwise around the property, with the back nine moving anti-clockwise on the land inside. The bunkering is sublime, the conditioning always perfect.
What will happen at The 2023 Ryder Cup being held at Marco Simone in Rome – only time will tell. With both Team USA and Europe now finalised both with strong contenders Rome seems to make the perfect gladiatorial backdrop.