Welcome to Lancashire – home of the 2030 Ryder Cup. Possibility or pipe dream? Alex Perry thinks it sounds more like something from the brain of Peter Kay
“I have a dream, people, I have a dream. If we build it, they will come.” Brian Potter wanted a new Phoenix. A superclub that was “bigger, better, faster, stronger, rising out of the ashes”, “a superclub, a king of clubs” that served “proper food like scampi, chicken Kievs, and garlic bread”.
You would be forgiven that, like the timeless Phoenix Nights, the latest proposal for a new Ryder Cup venue could have come from the brilliant mind of Bolton-born Peter Kay.
Moortown, Southport & Ainsdale, Ganton, Wentworth, Lindrick, Royal Lytham, Royal Birkdale, Walton Heath, The Belfry… Hulton Park? The list of English courses to hold the biennial showdown between Europe and the US could soon include an as-yet unbuilt resort on the outskirts of the Lancashire town after it got the go ahead from the government.
But there’s a catch. The 1,000-acre estate can only exist if it wins a bid to host the Ryder Cup in either 2030 or 2034.
As unlikely as it seems, the plans have still been laid out and, as well as a championship course and golf academy, the estate, according to Golf Business News, will include a 142-bed hotel, spa and conference centre.
There is also – and here’s the kicker – the provision of 1,036 new homes.
Hulton Park, screams the headline on their website, could boost the economy by £12.2 billion. As you read on that becomes £1.2 billion, so already it’s quite the comedown.
The “iconic” destination, they add, will be open in 2025 – if at all.
Richard Knight, the director of land and communities for Peel L&P, the company behind the proposal, dropped one of my favourite quotes of all time: “Our plans can deliver an amazing global sporting destination capable of hosting major tournaments as well as a catalyst for positive change, healthy living, heritage restoration, and tourism in Bolton.”
You can almost hear the expert comedy timing in Potter’s pause between “tourism” and “in Bolton”.
Jerry St Clair is not amused.
Knight’s quip is almost immediately topped, however, by David Chadwick of Hulton Estate Area Residents Together, which opposed the plans. “I will be completely gobsmacked if they get the Ryder Cup in either of those years,” he said. “I don’t wish to disrespect our town, but it beggars belief that it could take place in Bolton.”
Doesn’t it just, David? But honestly I wouldn’t worry too much. Who can forget the fallout surrounding Flaxby Golf Club and Skelwith Leisure?
Rumour has it they wanted to bid to host the Open Championship before someone pointed out that golf’s oldest major is usually contested over links courses and rarely on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.
So they went after the Ryder Cup and, to the surprise of precisely zero people, after years of legal disputes the golf course was scrapped and new plans to build thousands more houses suddenly appeared.
Maybe I’m being cynical. If Hulton Park do manage to pull it off I’ll be first in line to show Max and Paddy my ID. I suspect though that, unlike garlic bread, this is very much not the future.