Whistling Straits has given us a taste of what a links-style course can offer in the Ryder Cup, but should it be a more regular occurrence?
OPINION: Why The Ryder Cup Should NOT Return To A Links Course
The Pete Dye designed course in Wisconsin took an arid piece of land on the shores of the Lake Michigan and turned it into a links style beauty – with over 1000 bunkers and humps and hollows akin to that of the pure links golf we see at some of the great courses in Scotland.
Friday afternoon saw the wind whip up to well over 20mph as we saw the players battle some of the most links-like conditions we’ve seen in a Ryder Cup in decades.
Of course we’ve seen the Ryder Cup at links courses before – Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 1961 and 1977 for example – but we haven’t seen the event return to a links course this century.
Recent Ryder Cups have been hosted at purpose built venues – Celtic Manor for example – but has Whistling Straits given us a taste for a links Ryder Cup?
As much as some may want this to become a reality, realistically it’s highly unlikely to happen.
Before we even get into the type of matchplay golf we’d see at a links Ryder Cup, we have to think about logistics.
Could these small, traditional and old courses manage the circus that comes with the Ryder Cup?
This year’s Ryder Cup has seen 50,000 people per day attend – and that’s without the European fans being able to fly over.
Could somewhere like Royal Troon or Royal Porthcawl handle this amount of people?
Maybe the course could, but how about the town and the hospitality?
Ultimately you feel like these venues would be overawed by the Ryder Cup.
Let’s pretend logistics aren’t an issue for a minute and consider whether we’d even want to see the Ryder Cup at a links venue.
Hosting a Ryder Cup cup at a links venue would leave the weather gods in control of the event, making it a bit of a lottery.
Of course, potentially poor conditions would be the same for all players but ask yourself, would it be an entertaining Ryder Cup if Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas were battling it out in 35mph winds and sideways rain?
Inland courses give us predictable weather conditions and allow the golf to stay centre stage, rather than wind, rain or any other third party dominating proceedings.
The course designs of recent Ryder Cup venues have also been great for matchplay golf.
Using Celtic Manor as an example again, the 2010 course had risk reward par 4s, tricky par 3s and a monstrous 610 yard par 5 to end with – ideal for enjoyable matchplay golf.
Are links courses set up to provide us with compelling matchplay golf? Probably not.
A Ryder Cup is best suited when the golf course takes a back seat and allows the 24 players from both sides to battle it out.
These traditional links venues should be exclusively held back for the next best even in golf: The Open.