By Nick Edmund
There are two golf clubs in England that will be forever linked with the Ryder Cup: One is The Belfry, the other is Lindrick, and they couldn’t be more different. The Belfry (or more precisely its Brabazon Course) was “purposely built” in the 1970s to host important tournaments. In human terms, it is a big strapping youth, still a little immature and brash in the opinion of critics, but heroic and dashing in the eyes of supporters.
By contrast, Lindrick is the seasoned campaigner. The club was founded in 1891 and its golf course, which began with nine holes by Old Tom Morris, has evolved over the years as the game itself has evolved. Lindrick is no giant—indeed, by modern championship course standards its length (6,665 yards, par 70) is quite modest—yet there is no shortage of challenge or charm. Moreover, here is a place where subtlety reigns supreme.
Before the Ryder Cup came to Lindrick in 1957, only a relatively small number of golf aficionados were aware of how fine a course it was. But by the end of a chilly, windswept week in October, no one present, and none among those closely following events, would ever need reminding. This was the last occasion when an exclusively British and Irish team would emerge victorious, and it was not until 1985 at The Belfry, against a now European Team, that the U.S. would suffer another defeat.
Lindrick is located close to the borders of three ancient counties: Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, and Derbyshire, in the middle of England, occupying some 200 acres of classic English common (Lindrick Common) and essentially heathland in character. Silver birch trees define many of the fairways while smatterings of gorse and a dash of heather provide seasonal splashes of color and create a very attractive setting. Throw in the quality of the design and it’s little wonder that Lindrick is widely considered to be one of England’s top 10 inland courses.
Carefully placed drives are routinely rewarded here, but it is the variety of second shots to the traditionally firm and fast greens that is the course’s hallmark. The par fours are particularly strong, and one could single out the 2nd, 8th, and 17th as perhaps the most beguiling and cleverly designed holes, with the 7th, 12th, and 13th among the more demanding. Many commentators, however, regard the par-five 4th as the most interesting hole: A left-to-right dogleg, it requires a blind approach to a sunken green that is impressively framed by trees and has the River Ryton wrapping around the back of the putting surface. The green is stage-like in appearance, and it was here that the boundaries of the three counties once converged. Long ago this stage was used for bare-fist fighting, contestants and spectators being able to avoid arrest by stepping swiftly into a neighboring county whenever unfriendly law authorities appeared on the scene.
Lindrick’s clubhouse provides a good view of the par-three closing hole. Many dramatic occasions must have been witnessed here over the years, although it’s unlikely any will have surpassed that monumental moment in 1957 when the Great Britain & Ireland team captained by Dai Rees created history—and in the process brought a big smile to the face of the seasoned campaigner.