It’s 70 years since Samuel Ryder’s famous little trophy came to North Yorkshire. Steve Carroll discovers how events of that week still impacts the club today
Grand clubs always have a great entrance – and few are more impressive than the road that winds towards the clubhouse at Ganton.
Tall pines flank the way and, as the copses clear, you get subtle glimpses of the famous course to whet the appetite.
Just recently, though, as the eyes flick right past the idiosyncratic but fabulous 17th, the more observant might have noticed something different.
Ganton’s springy firm turf has always presented plenty of colour, especially in summer, but now a huge area of sand dominates the area between the penultimate and closing holes.
If this doesn’t fit with your expectations, then don’t be alarmed. Things are now as they once were.
Seventy years ago this weekend, Ganton enjoyed what might have been its finest hour.
The course has staged huge tournaments – the Curtis Cup was here in 2000 and the Walker Cup three years later.
But, in 1949, the Ryder Cup came to this little hamlet seven or eight miles outside of Scarborough.
The layout that the might of the USA and Great Britain played over two action packed days has changed only a little in the ensuing seven decades.
But the club has initiated a project that would make the layout more recognisable to Ben Hogan and company.
“We’re looking back to times like 1949 and how the course was set up and replicating some of those sand and waste areas that were on exhibit then,” said managing secretary Gary Pearce.
“Work on 17 and 18 has been completed, and we have received great feedback, we cleared an area out and created a huge sand area called the Pandy.
“As you come down the drive now you look to the right and you see a natural sandy wasteland. It’s quite impressive, and possibly a little daunting.
“We don’t need to make any huge changes to the golf course at all, but there are some pockets where, over the years, gorse has taken over and we have the opportunity to open some areas up to provide a different aspect that members haven’t seen for a long time.
“But it’s not about making the course harder. If anything, we are improving playability and making the course more interesting.”
Time may have passed but the Ryder Cup remains a massive part of the club’s heritage.
Pictures of the week, when GB&I came so close but ultimately perished 7-5, line the locker room and the clubhouse.
“When people come to the club they love reading about the history on the walls and looking in the cabinets,” added Pearce.
The club have already marked the anniversary with a day of competition before recreating the 1949 dinner enjoyed by the two teams during the tournament.
Attendees also enjoyed a specially brewed ale ‘The Ganton Shilling’ – sold at 1949 prices (5p a pint) – and played for a replica Ryder Cup trophy, which will now be competed for on suitable anniversaries.
Former European Tour, and six-time Ryder Cup player Howard Clark attended the dinner, and fielded questions from the members, before presenting the Ryder Cup to Ganton professional, Gary Brown, who followed in Hogan’s footsteps by receiving the Cup as a winning USA team captain.
It’s about ensuring the memories endure and celebrating a period when one of the world’s biggest sporting occasions routinely visited members’ clubs.
Added Pearce: “To be associated with Ryder, Walker and Curtis is part of our heritage and a pattern of hosting significant competitions so we remain in the forefront of golfer’s minds.
“The Ryder Cup is very seldom now played at a traditional private members’ club and it’s commercialism means they will probably never be considered again.
“Most golfers have only watched the Ryder Cup at large resorts like Celtic Manor or The Belfry; to visit Ganton and see the start of the build up of the Ryder Cup in a more traditional setting is quite special.”