Could Luton, a city of 300,000 located 75 minutes north of London, land England's next Ryder Cup? Such are the ambitions of new ownership of the resort and historic country estate.
In 2021, Arora Group acquired the estate, whose centuries-long history includes having hosted the late Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip for wedding anniversaries. Luton Hoo has also been a popular movie location, with parts of James Bond movies like Never Say Never Again and The World is Not Enough, as well as other films.
With the 2031 and 2035 Europe-hosted Ryder Cup sites yet to be determined, Arora Group has conscripted European Golf Design (EGD) to redesign the existing golf course, a bunkerless 18-holer that opened in 2008, into "a new championship-level course worthy of hosting the Ryder Cup," per a company statement.
EGD is experienced in construction of Ryder Cup venues. They designed the Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor Resort in Wales, which hosted the 2010 Ryder Cup. They were also involved in redesign work at both Le Golf National, the French site of the 2018 Ryder Cup, and Marco Simone Golf Club, the course near Rome, Italy that will host the 2023 Ryder Cup.
Other EGD projects include renovation work at DP World Tour host courses like Wentworth Golf Club's West Course and Woburn Golf Club's Marquess Course, as well as the new-build JCB Golf & Country Club, which hosted the Legends Tour in 2022.
The proposed new golf course at Luton Hoo would use a mix of land currently devoted to the existing routing, with the back nine working its way onto other grounds of the estate, even crossing the River Lea at holes 14 and 15 before returning back toward the main estate house for the closing holes. Plenty of space between the holes on the inward half, no doubt to accommodate the considerable build-out of stands and hospitality that accompanies the Ryder Cup. A par-72, it would stretch to nearly 7,700 from the longest tees, with three par 5s of more than 600 yards.
Currently, 2031 is the next open date on the Ryder Cup calendar. After its first visit to Rome in 2023, the event returns stateside in 2025, to Bethpage Black outside New York City for what should be the rowdiest playing in recent memory. Then, Ireland's Golf Course at Adare Manor will host the 2027 edition. In 2029, the event returns to Minnesota and Hazeltine National Golf Club, where the United States won only its second Ryder Cup of the 21st century. The 2033 Ryder Cup will be held at the Lake Course at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif., and the 2037 edition is expected to take place at the Blue Course at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Mary.
In the years before the Great Britain & Ireland team expanded to include golfers from continental Europe, the Ryder Cup visited several of the same great links golf courses that host the Open Championship. But since The Belfry's Brabazon Course hosted the 1985 edition, the event has never returned seaside when Europe has hosted. Instead, it has frequented modern, lush parkland layouts that have tended to sacrifice interesting scenery and historic course architecture for infrastructure space. The 2014 Ryder Cup visited Gleneagles Hotel, a grande dame resort in Scotland, but was contested over the Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA Centenary course.
A 2031 or 2035 Ryder Cup at a yet-to-be-built Luton Hoo course would make past competitions at links like Muirfield (1973), Royal Birkdale (1965) and Royal Lytham and St. Annes (1961, 1977) an even more distant memory.
More golf course news and notes
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JOSEPH HARDY III, 1923-2023 - The founder of 84 Lumber passed away on his 100th birthday. In addition to his successful business, he leaves a legacy that includes Nemacolin Resort, whose golf courses, lodgings and $45-million art collection embody an eccentric confidence that is a perfect reflection of its founder. [LINK: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
COURSE SEIZED BY EMINENT DOMAIN - The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that Moundbuilders Country Club, a private club whose course has coexisted among ancient Indian earthworks since 1910, will be turned over to the Ohio History Connection and shut down in order to convert the site entirely to a park. The club has asked the court to reconsider its verdict in a last-resort attempt to save the course. [LINK: Newark Advocate]
GOLF-ADJACENT (FOR NOW) - The expansion needs of the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery will be met by a neighboring golf course, though not immediately. The cemetery purchased the Lawrence Packard-designed Rawiga Golf Club and will allow it to continue to operate for up to a decade or more, before it is converted to gravesites. [LINK: Akron Beacon Journal]