Four of the golf courses bidding to win the 2018 Ryder Cup aren’t built yet. Only one of the other two in the running has staged a big golf tournament, I have learned.
Representatives from France, Holland, Germany, Portugal, Sweden and Spain attended a Symposium in London this week for a briefing from Richard Hills, the European Tour’s Ryder Cup director.
A release from the Tour stated: “Essential to the bid criteria is a commitment to the development of a world-class golf facility to host The 2018 Ryder Cup, the provision of ancillary facilities and infrastructure commensurate with the staging of an international sporting event, Government and Private Sector support, commercial opportunities and the contribution of the Bidding Nation to the development of golf.”
Each nation has to submit a formal bid by April 30. A decision on the 2018 course will be announced next year.
I have spent some time this week snooping around and can give you a sneak preview of the courses hoping to attract the match.
European Golf Design, a joint venture between the European Tour and IMG, are involved in three of the four courses yet to be completed/constructed. European Tour chief executive George O’Grady has previously said privately he would prefer the match to go to a European Golf Design course. So the three EGD candidates would seem to be in pole position.
Here’s the skinny on the courses hoping to stage the greatest match in golf:
France: Le Golf National (Albatross Course) Paris
France deserves a Ryder Cup for the long support it has given the European Tour. The French Open stretches back to 1906, while the Trophée Lancôme was a prestigious event that ran from 1970-2003. The French Open has been held at Le Golf National for the past nine years. It is convenient for Paris, and the French capital is convenient for the world. It’s my choice for the match.
Germany: The Audi Course, Wittelsbach Rohrenfeld, near Munich
As the name suggests, German car company Audi is financing the course construction. Needless to say rivals BMW won’t be pleased if Germany gets the match. BMW is currently the European Tour’s official car, and sponsors of the European Tour’s flagship PGA Championship. Thomas Himmel is architect of the Audi Course. Also investing in the project is Wittelsbacher Auslgeichsfonds, the investment company of the former Royal Bavarian family and one of the biggest landowners in Germany. So there is a bit of capital behind this bid. The course is only 30 minutes from Munich Airport, and 10 minutes from a major highway. The fact European Golf Design is not involved could count against this bid.
Holland: The Dutch, Spijk, near Gorinchem
Colin Montgomerie, in conjunction with European Golf Design, is architect of this course. Eleven holes have been seeded; the remaining will be seeded this spring and the course is scheduled to open in October. Despite (scandalous) claims that the game originated in The Netherlands, this small country isn’t one you’d normally associate with golf. However, the Dutch Open dates back to 1912. An innovative company called Made in Scotland is behind the bid. My sources tell me they’ve come up with ways to accommodate fans on canal boats during the matches. That would be a first!
Ground hasn’t even been broken on this course about 40 miles north of Lisbon, although there is another course on the site. European Golf Design is building this course to a design by Bernhard Langer. Portugal is blessed with great courses and has been associated with the European Tour since the 1970s. Given the distance from Lisbon, the infrastructure will have to be perfect for this course to get the match.
Sweden: Bro Hof Slott, Bro, Sweden
The Stadium Course at Bro Hof Slott is a Robert Trent Jones layout that opened in 2007. The course is 70 miles north of Stockholm. If the match has to be played at the start of October, as this year’s is, then Sweden might be a tad too cold for a Ryder Cup. The location might just be a bit remote too.
Spain: TBD, Madrid
My Spanish source tells me land is available near the Spanish capital that European Golf Design has been looking at in conjunction with a conglomeration of Madrid businesses and the city government. Considering the plethora of golf courses in Spain, it seems strange to build a new one. I don’t rate Spain’s chances given it was the first Continental European country to stage the match. That fact alone should preclude it from getting the 2018 match. However, stranger things have happened.