Inside The Ropes

Ryder Cup venues you can play

Ballesteros, Woods, Nicklaus... follow in the footsteps of Ryder Cup legends, recreate memorable shots and play the world's best courses.

Katie Burman
Katie Burman 7 mins read

Can there be anything more exhilarating than following in the footsteps of your Ryder Cup heroes!?

Luckily we can help make your dreams a reality. From the revered links courses on England's Golf Coast, to visiting the epic scenes of the 'War on the Shore' at Kiawah Island, we take a look at the top Ryder Cup venues you can play.

Royal Birkdale Golf Club

How we would love to see the Ryder Cup return to this fabulous links, which last hosted the prestigious event back in 1969. Regularly ranked as the best golf course in England, Royal Birkdale has hosted the contest on two occasions. Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Peter Alliss were among the big-name players in the field during the latter occasion, which would prove to be the closest contest in Ryder Cup history.

The contest is perhaps best known for a remarkable piece of sporting by a young Jack Nicklaus, who would concede a two-footer to Tony Jacklin on the final green, resulting in the first overall tie in the matches’ history.

Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club

This storied venue has played host to ten Open Championships, less well known is that the historic Lancashire links has also staged two Ryder Cups, back in 1961 and 1977. The latter occasion would be the last time that Team GB and Ireland would compete alone against the dominant Americans, who by this point had won ten consecutive matches. The links is nothing short of a masterpiece and is famed for its formidable and cunning collection of bunkers, which guarantee that Royal Lytham is considered among the most difficult of the Open Championship venues.

Royal Lytham & St Annes course

The Gleneagles Resort

Gleneagles would host the first unofficial Ryder Cup, back in 1921 when Golf Illustrated invited a group of American players to compete in the British Open. It would be almost a century before the event would return to the Scottish venue, which serves up one of the most beautiful settings in golf.

Originally staged over the James Braid-designed Kings course, the 2014 Ryder Cup would return to the new edition at the resort, the PGA Centenary Course, with Europe recording a resounding victory.

PGA Centenary Course, Gleneagles

Whistling Straits

Laid out on the coastline of Lake Michigan, an hour north of Milwaukee, Whilsting Straits is a stunning links course in an iconic location. Previously known as a multiple time host of the PGA Championship, and now most notably the 2021 Ryder Cup, the Straits Course is one of America’s premier golf destinations and certainly one of the best links courses you’ll find outside of the Monterey peninsula.

The course was designed by renowned architect Pete Dye, who considered the task of building a course on this rugged landscape as a ‘once in a lifetime thing’. The layout is a true work of art and despite only dating back to 1998, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this stunning 560-acre piece of land had developed and matured over hundreds of years. Needless to say, Whistling Straits is taking the Ryder Cup backdrop to a new level.

Straits Course, Whistling Straits

Kiawah Island

Perhaps most famous for the dramatic ‘War on the Shore’ where Team USA edged out Europe, Kiawah Island is a course built for big events, having only opened a couple of months before the 1991 Ryder Cup. Couples, O’Meara, Ballesteros, Faldo and Torrance are just a few of the famous names who played in 1991, which goes down as one of the most competitive contests in Ryder Cup history. The tie came down to the wire where Bernhard Langer ultimately missed a 6-footer to halve his match and retain the trophy for Team Europe, which goes down as possibly the most memorable moment in the competition’s history.

Most recently fans will remember Kiawah Island as the setting for when a 50-year-old Phil Mickelson won the 2021 PGA Championship on the longest course in major history (at the time) – a historic event at a truly historic course.

Like Whistling Straits, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island is a Pete Dye man-made links that looks and plays way beyond its years. Its intimate coastal location is the backdrop for an exceptional course, which offers panoramic Atlantic Ocean views throughout in a figure of eight style (4½ out, 4½ back), as opposed to the classic out and back links. Coupled with fantastic accommodation and four other sister courses, Kiawah Island provides one of the best stay & play golf experiences in the US.

Ocean Course, Kiawah Island

Celtic Manor

The only course built specifically to host the world’s biggest team tournament, Celtic Manor would produce a scintillating contest in 2010, with the match coming down to the final singles pairing. Delayed till Monday due to poor weather, Graeme McDowell would finish off Hunter Mahan on the iconic par-3 17th to give Europe a one-point victory and continue their four-match winning streak on home soil.

The rolling parkland course in the Usk Valley forms part of the extensive Celtic Manor estate, which is also home to two further championship courses as well as a plethora of leisure and dining facilities.

Twenty Ten Course, Celtic Manor

PGA National

A Florida Swing staple and the setting for the 1983 Ryder Cup, PGA National is a first-class resort situated in Palm Beach Gardens, an hour north of Miami. In 1983, Jack Nicklaus led Team USA to another tight victory (14½ vs 13½), but perhaps the most memorable moment was when Ballesteros fired a three wood from a fairway bunker 245 yards over water and onto the green to halve his match – in true Seve fashion. Nicklaus was later quoted saying it was “the finest shot I have ever seen”.

Originally designed by Tom and George Fazio in 1981, and then later redesigned in 1990 by the Golden Bear himself, PGA National is a Florida classic. The closing trio of holes 15 to 17 are the course highlight, known as ‘The Bear Trap’, and are amongst the toughest holes in golf.

Champion Course, PGA National

The K Club

The Palmer North Course at The K Club is a beautiful Arnold Palmer parkland design located in County Kildare, a charming countryside resort just 30kms west of Dublin. The course is dominated by water and therefore made an exceptional setting for the 36th Ryder Cup, as risk and reward holes only added to the drama. The contest was very one-sided, as Ian Woosnam led Team Europe to a record-equaling victory of 18½ points to 9½.

The course itself, along with Adare Manor, is possibly one of the best parkland golf courses in the UK, with plenty of trees, strategically placed bunkers, and greens often protected by the River Liffey. It is a must-play when in Ireland, particularly for golfers who are looking to visit Ireland's capital.

Palmer North Course, The K Club

Adare Manor

Set to host the Ryder Cup in 2026, Adare Manor is a luxury five-star golf destination located just outside of Limerick, southwest Ireland. The course was initially opened for play in 1995 and has all the trademarks of a classic Robert Trent Jones Snr design. It’s challenging, very long from the back tees (and short from the front tees), with plenty of natural hazards and the River Maigue which often comes into play.

Following an estimated €30 million redevelopment programme put in place from 2015, Adare Manor has become the go-to stay & play resort in the country. Golf course architect Tom Fazio, who redesigned Adare Manor, famously said “most golfers will never have seen anything like this course. It looks and plays like no other course in Ireland”, and we’re inclined to agree with him.

Adare Manor Golf Course

Southport & Ainsdale Golf Club

This classic links is one of the most underrated courses on the Lancashire coastline. All too often overshadowed by its prestigious neighbours, Southport & Ainsdale has played host to two Ryder Cups, back in 1933 and 1937, with the earlier contest marking the last time Great Britain and Ireland would be victorious for over two decades.

A James Braid masterpiece, the rolling links is a testing championship layout, which plays its way through wild dunes and snarly gorse. The layout remains an Open Championship Final Qualifying venue and has played host to numerous top amateur tournaments over the years.

Southport & Ainsdale Golf Club

The Belfry

The Belfry needs little introduction. Host to four Ryder Cups, more than any other venue on the planet, the Warwickshire resort is one of the most iconic destinations in the game.

Seve Ballesteros may have put the Brabazon on the map as an iconic Ryder Cup course, but with a wealth of moments to draw from, golfers can relive the magic of the tournament on almost every hole.

Brabazon Course, The Belfry

Le Golf National

Head twenty miles west of Paris towards the Chateau of Versailles and you will find a setting fitting of golfing royalty. The long-time home of the French Open, a Rolex Series event that annually draws a world-class field, Le Golf National cemented its places as one of the greatest Ryder Cup venues of all-time. It’s a venue that was perfectly suited for the transatlantic match-play event, with mounding to spare and the final holes running through an amphitheatre-like bowl.

L'Albatros course, Le Golf National

Real Club Valderrama

Valderrama is the first course in continental Europe to host the Ryder Cup. A massive million-dollar refurbishment by original designer Robert Trent Jones in the run-up to the event would transform the layout into one of Europe's finest courses.

Weaving its way through omnipresent cork trees, Valderrama is a truly special place to play golf. The venue would provide the backdrop for one of Europe’s most nail-biting victories, with Seve Ballesteros’s side seeing off a rallying final day comeback from Team USA to win by a single point.

Real Club Valderrama

Ganton Golf Club

It's often said that if the Open Championship headed inland it would likely be staged at Ganton Golf Club. While that is yet to transpire, the North Yorkshire venue has hosted almost every other prestigious event in European golf, including the Ryder Cup, back in 1949.

Somewhat bizarrely, the USA's decision to bring a half ton of meat to England was one of the event's main headlines, as was the return of Ben Hogan as a non-playing captain following his near-fatal car accident a few months before. The course itself plays much like a links course, despite being some miles from the sea and is unquestionably one of England's finest inland layouts.

Ganton Golf Club

Walton Heath Golf Club

Surrey's Walton Heath is home to two outstanding heathland courses, both of which rank among England’s finest layouts. Herbert Fowler would design the New and the Old Course, with the latter revered world-over as an exceptional test of golf. It is a reputation that has attracted some of the biggest contests in the game, including the 1981 Ryder Cup. Taking place during an extended period of American domination, USA would win the contest by 18½ to 9½ points.

The New course, Walton Heath Golf Club

Lindrick Golf Club

Host to the 1957 Ryder Cup, Lindrick all too often gets overlooked. It shouldn’t, for it is undoubtedly one of the best British courses to host the prestigious event. The hidden gem would be the scene of a rare victory for Team GB, the first in twenty-four years. The course culminates with one of the finest holes in the game, the 210-yard par-3 eighteenth, which is featured in the World's 500 Greatest Golf Holes.

Lindrick Golf Club

Moortown Golf Club

Designed by Dr Alister MacKenzie, Moortown was the first ever venue to host the Ryder Cup on this side of the pond, back in 1929. Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen were among the players who made the journey to compete in the second staging of the biennial tournament, which was plagued by hail and heavy snow.

A classic moorland course, the peaty fairways, flanked by silver birch and heather, are ridiculously good to play off and ensure that Moortown is regarded as one of England's finest tests.

Moortown Golf Club

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Katie Burman avatar
Katie Burman

Golfbreaks Tournament Specialist

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