Billionaire businessman Surinder Arora wants to create the “Augusta of Europe” and bring the Ryder Cup to Bedfordshire in 2031
Surinder Arora is determined to host the “best Ryder Cup ever” at Luton Hoo in 2031.
The owner of Arora Group, an ever-growing UK property company, has dreamt of making the “Augusta of Europe” in Bedfordshire since attending the Masters for his 60th birthday.
The 2031 Ryder Cup is the target with the yet-to-be-built Hulton Park site in Bolton and PGA Catalunya in Spain also contending to host the biennial battle between Europe and the USA.
Promising to invest over £160 million into the golf course and venue, quadrupling the workforce and aiming to create a legacy in the south of England, Arora is convinced Luton Hoo is a logistical dream for the tournament.
“I knew from my previous involvement at Wentworth, if you were to hold a Ryder Cup at Wentworth, it would be virtually impossible because of all the housing around the course,” he told NCG.
“From a safety point of view, I don’t think they could have more than 28,000 to 30,000 maximum fans a day because of all of the restrictions.
“But with Luton Hoo, we have 1100 acres of land, we are blessed that if you look location-wise, the accessibility from the motorway, from north and south, the train station, the airport which is also the busiest private aircraft airport in the country, as well as commercial.
“I’ve done the journey from Luton to St Pancras and I’ve done the journey in 23 minutes or something, so it’s incredible when you have something which is tailormade.
“My dream came alive five years ago when my son took me for my 60th birthday for my first-ever visit to Augusta. I remember going there and I remember saying, oh my god, I never knew places like that existed on the planet and had I known about it earlier, I would have gone back to England and bought 500 acres somewhere!
“A couple of years later, we came across Luton Hoo (it was bought from Elite Hotels at the end of 2021). We thought this was something we should do or look at it as a special opportunity, so we have gone through the application.”
Arora made his first splash in the UK hotel business in 1993 when he developed bed and breakfasts to serve airline staff at Heathrow Airport. He saw an opportunity that came by what he describes as “a sheer accident,” having previously worked as a baggage handler.
In 2004, the thriving hotelier became the vice-chairman of Wentworth in partnership with Richard Caring who became chairman. It was in 2014, when the club was sold to Reignwood, that Arora “missed his connection with golf.”
The Arora Group acquired The Buckinghamshire in 2018 to invest up to £10 million in the clubhouse and the facilities. Arora maintains his investment at The Buckinghamshire came from the heart, and his desire to bring the Ryder Cup to Luton does too.
“When the opportunity came at Luton Hoo two years ago, I just fell in love with the place and thought, this is something,” he added.
“We can bring the Ryder Cup here and put Bedfordshire on the world map and create something really special as a legacy, so that’s the dream at Luton Hoo. You’ve got an amazing character and history. The main mansion is Grade I Listed, and the Capability Brown ground.”
Luton Hoo: Ryder Cup application gathers momentum after government decision
Luton Hoo was the original name for the 18th century country house which has now been converted into a hotel. The golf course stands at 7,107 yards and has previously hosted events on the Challenge Tour and the EuroPro Tour.
After its application to extend and remodel the golf course to Ryder Cup standard was approved by the Central Bedfordshire Council in June 2023, a nervous wait for government approval followed.
The government has now declared it would not “call in” the application for a planning inquiry, effectively giving the site the green light.
Arora pledged he would do everything necessary to bring the Ryder Cup back to England for the first time since 2002, but what must be considered for a venue to be acceptable to host such a vast event that houses tens of thousands of golf fans?
“Everything,” Arora said. “They will also look at it, a bit like in Rome last year, they must’ve had in excess of 40,000 to 45,000 fans a day, and probably nearer 60,000 with all of the other officials, helpers and staff.
“So, with Luton Hoo, we can bring as many people as we can, whether they want to bring 70,000, 80,000, 90,000.
“We can make this the best Ryder Cup ever. The other dream is, I know obviously we have Adare Manor (2027 Ryder Cup host venue in Ireland) and JP (McManus) has done an incredible job and everyone who has seen it and been there, it’s incredible. All I want to do, nothing to do with ego, I want to create the Augusta of Europe in England and Luton.
“If I had an indication, I wouldn’t be working. I’d just be putting in the six lottery numbers on a Saturday night! All I would say is I think if I was a betting man, the two areas from a levelling up point of view, would be us and Bolton.
“I definitely will do everything in our power to make sure, instead of Catalunya, we bring it to England – Bolton wants to build 1100 homes on the back of the Ryder Cup course and in golf – you only make money on golf courses when you build housing around it.
“We’re not looking for any development on housing, but really, sometimes in life, I can do it from my heart and my head and say, this is something we want to do for legacy and make a difference.”
One man perfectly placed to oversee the golf club’s development is Craig Ferris, the golf manager and professional golfer who offers lessons to visitors, visitors now catching on to the Ryder Cup bid.
Despite no longer offering a golf membership, this hasn’t reduced the excitement ahead of the announcement of the 2031 Ryder Cup venue expected this year.
“The buzz around all of the people coming in to play golf, the talk about the Ryder Cup has had a huge impact on us day to day, and the level of conversation and the interest that gets built around that has been brilliant,” Ferris told NCG.
“It creates a real buzz around the estate for people wanting to come and see it for where we are now and what we could potentially be in the future and that definitely impacted us positively in 2023.
“Particularly in the corporate environment for us, we’ve been out in the public eye a bit more and it’s driven more people here without a shadow of a doubt. It’s been fantastic.
“I’ve been at Luton Hoo for 11 years, I live fairly local to the area and it’s always been a close passion of mine.
“I’ve known about the venue since I was very young and to see it flourish over the years and move forward – it has been amazing to hear the future development plans and it’s amazing to be a part of.”
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