Welcome to Lancashire – home of the 2031 Ryder Cup. Possibility or pipe dream? Alex Perry hopes it's the former
“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 2031 or 2035.
The plans have 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 the provision of 1,036 new homes and Hulton Park, the headline on their website reads, could boost the economy by £1.2 billion. The “iconic destination”, they hope, will be open in 2025.
Richard Knight, the director of land and communities for Peel L&P, the company behind the proposal, said: “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 Jerry St Clair’s deadpan response: “In Bolton?”
Other companies have tried this route before. Who can forget the story of 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 after years of legal disputes the golf course was scrapped.
But hopefully, like garlic bread, this is the future and Hulton Park can pull it off. If recent history has taught us anything, it’s that nothing tops a Ryder Cup on British soil.
Just remember to show Max and Paddy your tickets on the way in.