Our Fourball team head off into their own winter wonderland in search of a tour course and some new membership for 2020
It’s coming up to Christmas so we can wave our magic wand and give you a little treat ahead of the 2020 season. I’m joined by Dan Murphy, Alex Perry and Joe Hughes for this one…
You can join any three tournament golf courses that have held tour events in Great Britain and Ireland. Where are you joining and why?
Dan: I don’t want much so I will modestly start with Skibo Castle (below). It qualifies on the basis of the episode of Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf there in the 1990s, when Fred Couples took down Greg Norman. Skibo is a place that you never want to leave and I think the course is sensationally good. It would also give me another excuse to go the Highlands, a part of Scotland I love dearly.
It would be nice to have a home from home in the south east so why not Walton Heath, which gets me two courses for the price of one. I happen to think the 1981 Ryder Cup venue is the quintessential heathland venue and I love the sheer expanse of the Old course in particular.
Finally, I’d want an old-fashioned links so Royal Cinque Ports, the Open venue in 1909 and 1920, would give me great conditions for year-round golf. Thanks very much.
Joe: I know Royal Liverpool is not the best Open layout but it’s bloody good nonetheless. Having watched my first Open there and played it a couple of times in school, it’s close to my original home and somewhere that I’d just love to be able to rock up to and play as a member.
Then I’ll head the road. Birkdale is an appealing prospect but I think I’d take greater pleasure from being a regular at Hillside.
Let’s throw in one that I’ve never actually been to because why not? Kingsbarns – I always hear people talking about Kingsbarns, so it must be good. It looks it.
Alex: Hang on, just need to Google if Royal North Devon (above) has ever hosted European Tour event…
It has! The Martini International in 1975, where the title was shared by Christy O’Connor Jr and Ian Stanley. What a day that was.
There’s just something about the place that stirs emotion in me that no other course does. RND is minutes from where I was born, half an hour from where I spent the first 18 years of my life, and I’m sure my mum would like to see more of me.
Next on my list is the Old Course at St Andrews. Yeah yeah, the course isn’t actually that great blah blah blah, I’ve heard it all before. But I love it and everything about the town. Just imagine being a member there and being able to do something that people queue through the night for whenever you want.
Third on my list is Sunningdale. You get two courses for the price of, well, six, but it’s worth it. With the other two courses inevitably beating me up on a regular basis, it would be nice to just have somewhere tranquil to lose myself. Golf nirvana.
My verdict: I’ve let myself down by not going back to the Principality nor picking somewhere normal and earthy but this is too big a chance to miss and I’m only really bothered by the bits between the 1st tee and 18th green. Also, had Royal Dornoch staged the Scottish Open this would have been top of my list.
With my excuses out of the way I’ll also be predictable and head to Sunningdale which gets me 36 holes, more sausage sandwiches than I can throw a frying pan at, and would give me the chance to intertwine myself with a collection of Staysure pros in some high stakes/£5 a corner money matches.
Then we’d be off to the linksland and Scotland. I’d probably get myself a two-bed flat in Glasgow which would give me a two-hour drive both west and east to Turnberry and Muirfield. I haven’t even played the former in its recent guise but the old version was good enough for me, the early coastline stretch always blows my mind and it would take me to a happy place via its history with Pro Celebrity.
While Muirfield is easily the best course I’ve ever played (and lunch I’ve ever ploughed through) and would present all sorts of other chances for some quality golf in North Berwick. Seasons greetings.