10 Courses That Should Host the Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup Matches are off until 2021, when the show will (presumably) go on at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis.—the first time that course has hosted the biennial competition. The Pete Dye-designed links-style course is a punishing layout that’s perfect for match play. It should make for must-see TV when the U.S. and European teams finally take up arms there next autumn.

In theory, you could play the Ryder Cup at your local muni and it’d still be exciting. But the venues do contribute to the magic. The “War by the Shore” wouldn’t have been the same if it hadn’t taken place at Kiawah. Nor would the “Battle of Brookline” have been as dramatic if it had been fought somewhere other than The Country Club, with 20,000 rowdy Bostonians crowding the ropes.

But wouldn’t it be nice if new venues could host the event more often? Courses that would not only challenge players but take them to new places and showcase designs—classic or modern—that we wouldn’t otherwise see?

Of course, the Ryder Cup is such a circus these days that the required infrastructure would rule out many courses. And there’s no way of knowing whether a private club could be coerced into hosting such a big event. But if we assume that these wouldn’t be insurmountable issues, that tents could be squeezed in and holes lengthened where needed, some droolworthy options present themselves. Here are five U.S. and five European courses that I’d love to see host future Ryder Cup competitions. Yardages and ratings/slopes (where applicable) are from the tips.

Ohoopee Match Club (photo by Gil Hanse)

U.S. Courses

1. The California Club of San Francisco (San Francisco, Calif.)—7,216 yards, par 72, 74.6 rating, 139 slope

The Cal Club may sit in the shadows of its neighbors, The Olympic Club and TPC Harding Park, but it’s by no means a lesser course. The new holes created by Kyle Phillips (who also restored the course’s Alister MacKenzie bunkers) have given this California purebreed new teeth.

Cal Club 3rd hole (photo by Evan Schiller)

2. Peachtree Golf Club (Atlanta, Ga.)—7,414 yards, par 72, 75.9 rating, 141 slope

A cousin of Augusta National in both appearance and lineage, Peachtree reveals founder Bobby Jones’s influence from first hole to last, as well as that of another Jones—Robert Trent Jones, its designer.

3. National Golf Links of America (Southampton, N.Y.)—6,935 yards, par 72, 74.3 rating, 139 slope

Shinnecock Hills’s historic neighbor had both C.B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor as its parents. And it shows. The course’s many superb template holes (Redan, Alps, Leven, etc.) might have the Euros wondering which country they’re really playing in.

National Golf Links 14th hole (Photo by Evan Schiller)

4. Royal New Kent (Providence Forge, Va.)—7,440 yards, par 72, 76.8 rating, 154 slope

This links-like monster from the wonderfully overactive imagination of Mike Strantz features deep bunkers—105 of them—and hills blanketed with penal native vegetation. Any Strantz course would give rise to a memorable Ryder Cup, but particularly this one.

5. Ohoopee Match Club (Cobbtown, Ga.)—7,325 yards, par 72 (rating, slope not applicable)

Gil Hanse designed this course specifically for match play. The result includes four alternate holes that would give the host team’s course setup strategists lots of interesting options. And it’s got the best venue name a renowned match-play event like the Ryder Cup could ask for.

 

European Courses

1. Woodhall Spa (Lincolnshire, England)—7,042 yards, par 73 (rating, slope not applicable)

The Hotchkin course at Woodhall Spa is one of Europe’s most revered courses. First Harry Vardon and later Harry Colt had hands in sculpting this classic heathland course from the Lincolnshire landscape. Then Tom Doak came in to renovate it in 2019–2020. Enough said.

 

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2. Royal Hague (Wassenar, The Hague, Netherlands) —7,131 yards, par 72, 75.2 rating, 157 slope

This low-country jewel from Harry Colt and others is a thrill-a-minute rollercoaster ride through broad dunes, scraggly trees, and tall fescue grasses. No windmill needed to amp up the excitement here.

3. Monte Rei (Tavira, Portugal) —7,181 yards, par 72, 75.7 rating, 146 slope

With the Sierra do Caldeirão mountains providing a verdant backdrop, the hilly Jack Nicklaus signature course here is one of the Algarve’s strongest—and most serenely beautiful—courses.

 

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4. Bro Hof Slot (Bro, Sweden)—8,056 yards, par 72, 80 rating, 150 slope

Robert Trent Jones II’s Stadium Course at Bro Hof Slot is a Gulliver-sized course that winds around Lake Mälaren, with brutishly long holes, expansive greens, menacing bunkers, and enough water to give players from either side of the pond sweaty palms.

 

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5. Dumbarnie Links (Leven, Fife, Scotland) —7,620 yards, par 72, 76 rating, 135 slope

Europe’s newest championship-caliber track, Dumbarnie Links would present players from both teams with numerous, match-changing, risk-reward opportunities—and dramatic views of the Firth of Forth to go with them. The St. Andrews area has never hosted the Ryder Cup. It’s about time it did.

Dumbarnie Links 3rd hole (photo by Clive Clark)

What courses do you think should host a Ryder Cup? Let us know in the comment section.

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