Ryder Cup in Europe: The venues where history was written

So far, 13 golf courses in Europe where the venue of the most epic duel in golf sport: the Ryder Cup, the battle between the best and talented players of Team Europe and Team USA. For the record: Until 1979, only players from Great Britain and Ireland were supposed to hold the flag for the European Team. Since then, players from all European countries can be part of the fight between the two continents. In 2014, another golf course will hold the certificate “Venue of the Ryder Cup Europe”: Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland.

MPV: the 2022 host will be only the third course in Europe in Ryder Cup history to be outside GB & I (after Valderama in 1997 and Paris in 2018). But will it be Germany or will it be one of the six other destinations (Austria, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Turkey) that apply. With its perfection to organise Germany is for sure one of the 3 top favorites, but the application must be way better than years ago for 2018 where Germany lost against Paris, France. But first the German Golf Federation has to name the venue city. Will it be Hamburg, Berlin or ?? Where would you like to see the showdown US vs. Europe in 2022?

The Chinese have just bought Wentworth Golf Club these days – would it be possible for them to host the Ryder Cup too? I would definitely say no. The European Team would lose their roots and loose their home status, and their identity. No matter how much money involved, the Ryder Cup Ltd. should not follow the misguided foot steps of the IOC or FIFA and just vote for money. People are sick of selling everything as long as the price is right. And foremost, the Ryder Cup is just beginning to be an European event, where players, golfers and spectators are starting to identify themselves as Europeans.

Find a map of all European Venues so far (including Gleneagles for 2014):

Map of Ryder Cup courses in Europe

Click to enlarge

Overview of courses and year(s) played:

Course

Year(s)

Gleneagles, Scotland

2014

Celtic Manor, Wales

2010

K Club, Ireland

2006

The Belfry, England

1985, 1989, 1993, 2002

Valderama, Spain

1997

Walton Heath, England

1981

Royal Lytham & St. Annes, England

1961, 1977

Muirfield, Scotland

1973

Royal Birkdale, England

1965, 1969

Lindrick, England

1957

Wentworth, England

1953

Ganton, England

1949

Southport & Ainsdale, England

1933, 1937

Moortown, England

1929

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Titanic on Emerald Isle

Ireland is always worth travelling. And if you are lucky as we are now for more than 10 years you even don’t need an umbrella. After John and Justin from North and West Coast Links (wclgolf@iol.ie, +353-91-868642) advised and helped us again where to play we started in Dublin and once again at Portmarnock Links the Bernhard Langer Course (thank you Moira: mcassidy@portmarnock.com, +353-1-8666591). To be honest it was not as good in shape as we know it from earlier times. But the 13th is lengthened and the greens were vertilised so by the time you arrive it will be as good as it ever was and it is a great feeling to play near the ocean. Also the hotel is now refurbished. On the next day we played a must for Links Golf Fans: Portmarnock Old (thank you Jeff: jeff@portmarnockgolfclub.ie, +353-1-8462968). On the third day we played The Island. It was in very good shape and even with hardly no wind it is a challenge to play your handicap. (thank you Cathy: cathy@theislandgolfclub.com, +353-1-8436205).

Leaving Dublin and directing to Belfast we stayed at Slieve Donard Hotel, sitting like a castle at the beachside of Newcastle. Spacious rooms overlooking the Irish Sea and/or Royal County Down it is the place to stay (thank you Tom: tcotter@hastingshotels.com, +44-28-90674166 and Claire cedkins@sdh.hastingshotels.com, +44-28-43721018). Driving to Ardglass Golf Course takes you about 45 min. and every minute is worth it driving near the coast to a small picturesque village where at the end the course is located. The first tee is guided by old cannons and you drive along the Sea and the rough coast line. The Par 3 fifth is the shortest Par 5 in Ireland – try it yourself. What a fantastic rural golf course. Coming back to Newcastle the clouds were hanging deeply on the mountains. So we did not expect another sunny day at Royal County Down. You can’t be more English than the starter Stan who guided us the way down the first. And I bet you have not seen more natural bunkers than here. The very challenging course – the strong winds didn’t make it easier – is despite the high greenfees (RCD does not believe in discounts) strongly recommended. If you survived vitamin “G” it will strengthen you again.

Golf is not everything in life – do you agree? So we drove about an hour to Belfast and visited the brand new Titanic Museum. Did you know it was built exactly where the Museum is today? You can park right underneath and reach the spacious lobby with cafe and souvenir shop. Starting on the first floor you will learn and experience about the early 20th century and the industrialisation in Belfast. Forget about the famous movie, here you see how it was at that time and what an effort it was to built a ship like that even if it sank on the first cruise (thank you Alex: alexmcgreevy@titanicbelfast.com, +44-28-90766363). And if you are interested in architecture the Museum itself as a landmark is worth visiting.

So coming back to Ireland / North Ireland is no question, but time will be the issue. I hope you find the time. Please use all contact details to arrange your reservations and get one or the other hint what else you can see and discover “Craig-Factor” on Emerald Isle.

Ireland – Golf – Fishing – Races

How I discovered again new sites of the Island

After a smooth landing at Dublin airport, I drove my car on the left hand side on the new highway to Galway. „we meet you at the Races“ John McLaughlin said. I thought that there will be some horses and a nice quiet Monday evening with a pint of Guiness waiting for me. But I was super surprised after I learned the lesson that Galway Races is one of the biggest in Europe with 150.000 visitors during that week. Massive crowds were cheering the horses they bet on and it was a great experience at the race track. In the Grand Stand VIP area I even was introduced to the Mayor of Galway Mrs. Hildegarde Naughton, so I felt really welcome. After that attraction we went out for dinner at Kirwan‘s Lane Restaurant a must for seafood lovers. The night in Mayrick Hotel was pleasant and so I started
the next day to play at Ballyconneely Connemara GC. 10 min behind Galway I stopped for a nice cup of coffee next door to the office of the North & West Coast Links Golf to gain the
latest brochure and some directions from John and Justin.

After a 1,5 hrs drive I was ready to strike my first golf ball in pure sunshine conditions with marvellous views to the sea. After a good round with 7 guests from the South of Ireland I drove back to Clifden and slept at Abbeyglen Castle Hotel. The dinner was served by the proprietor Paul Hughes. The next day started with fog and so the Kylemore Castle which I passed on my 2,5 hrs way to Belmullet Carne GC was even more mysterious. I stopped and visited it and saw the walled garden a wonderful piece of grown history. Carne is a real Links course and beautiful settled by the sea. The bar tender gave me some tips which helped to get around. After another 1 hrs drive I reached a huge park with Mount Falcon Country House Hotel in it. Immediately with entering I could feel the warmth and the typical Irish hospitality. The room they gave me was not a regular one, but one that must have had 100 sm. Living room, writing corner, sleeping room, bath and a view to the peaceful park. Everything sensitively furnished.

Mount Falcon is a must for Golfers, Fishermen, Clay-Pigeons-Shooter, etc. and the best all of them can practice on ground before heading to the courses and to River Mayo with its massive salmon sources which is on the other side of the road. A big plus are the Country Houses (Woodlands, Lakeside, Courtyard) where up to 6 people can sleep, live and even wash their dirty fisher clothes. On the next day I drove through the beautiful city Ballina and reached Enniscrone GC(only 20 min. from the Mount Falcon) a real Links tester. Pat Sweeny the GM told me – don‘t be long on any hole / don‘t take risks / use putter as whenever you can – these guidelines definitely saved me from the loss of even more ball. Play with members will help as well.
Back on the road I drove about 1,5 hours to Enniskillen, North Ireland. Funny enough there was no sign indicating the border, just my GPS calculated the miles/h into km/h so a max. of 96 km/h speed was indicated on country roads. Only 5 miles north of the town centre I entered the private park of Lough Erne. What a change from rural Links Golf to Parkland Golf. Everything very well maintained. As always I asked if the starter could ask that I can play with somebody and as always some Irish players were pleased to have a stranger with them, which is always great fun and easy going. The magnificent designed Faldo Course is a must and a big challenge. I would strongly recommend a buggy or at least an electric trolley, because the distances between the holes are always an other PAR 3 or even PAR 4. Take your time at the wonderful placed half way house overlooking the 9th green and the lake to get a coffee or even a glass of wine The hotel is designed for Americans. Air-condition everywhere. But the view is beautiful over the course and the lake and very quiet, only nature.
After the final 2 hrs drive I was back in Dublin and checked in at Portmarnock Hotel. An icon and it feels like when you enter the car park. I am glad to hear that the rooms are going to be refurbished during wintertime. The Bernhard Langer designed Course is a challenge but playable. It starts slow and easy and gets tougher the further you get. On some tee boxes you can enjoy a beautiful view to the sea and the beach. I have not played this time but experienced it the last time – the Old Course at Portmarnock (10 min. drive) and that is a real old Links as it should be.

Also a strong recommendation is Baltray GC (1 hrs north) a former Irish Open Course. In the evening visit Malahide (5 min drive). A nice little village with exquisite dining and definitely finalise the evening at Gibeys – the pub – at Malahide. You even could visit Malahide Castle and its huge park. I was in there have great fun with 30.000 other concert fans of the little man from Minneapolis – Prince.

John McLaughlin: North & West Coast Links Golf, wclgolf@iol.ie T +353-91-868642
Hotel Meyrick, Galway: reshm@monogramhotels.ie T +353-91-564041
Connemara Championship Links, Ballyconneely: wclgolf@iol.ie T +353-91-868642
Abbeyglen Castel Hotel, Clifden: info@abbeyglen.ie T +353-95-21201
Kylemore Abbey & Garden, Kylemore: info@kylemoreabbey.ie T +353-95-41146
The Carne, Belmullet: wclgolf@iol.ie T +353-91-868642
Mount Falcon, Ballina: info@mountfalcon.com T +353-96-74472
Enniscrone Golf Club: wclgolf@iol.ie T +353-91-868642
Lough Erne, Enniskillen: info@lougherneresort.com T +44-28-66323230
Moira Cassidy Director Golf, Portmarnock: mcassidy@portmarnock.com T +353-1-8666591