The Ryder Cup only comes around every two years. It's difficult to wait for all of the drama, patriotic fervor, tension and excitement that engulfs this phenomenal event. An engaging way to spend the interval time is by playing Ryder Cup courses that are accessible to the public.
Here are five great Ryder Cup courses you can play:
2010 Course at Celtic Manor Resort (Newport, Wales): The Twenty Ten Course, which opened in 2007, was the first course specifically designed for the Ryder Cup Matches, and hosted in 2010. It features nine holes on the floor of the Usk Valley and several holes on the back nine with elevation changes. There are water hazards on nine holes and lots of risk-and-reward choices. Corey Pavin was the American captain and Colin Montgomerie captained the Europeans, who won 14 ½-13 ½.
Champion Course at PGA National Resort (Palm Beach Gardens, Florida): Site of the 1983 Ryder Cup, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Champion Course opened in 1981. Through the years, the Golden Bear has tweaked the design somewhat. The course, now home to the PGA Tour's Honda Classic, demands a great short game. Many of the greens are wildly undulating and surrounded by all sorts of trouble, from deep bunkers to mounds and dark lagoons. The Champion's 15th through 17th holes, dubbed "the Bear Trap," comprise one of the toughest stretches of finishing holes anywhere. Jack Nicklaus was the American captain and Tony Jacklin captained the European team as the USA won 14 ½-13 ½.
Ocean Course at Kiawah Island (Charleston, South Carolina): Known as "The War by the Shore," the 1991 Ryder Cup matches were contested on this marvelous Pete Dye-designed seaside layout. A target golf experience, the Ocean Course has 10 holes alongside the Atlantic Ocean and eight others parallel to those. The course never allows you to take a mental break as every hole demands a concise strategy to score well. Dave Stockton captained the Americans to a 14 ½-13 ½ victory, while Bernard Gallacher led the European squad.
Royal Birkdale (Southport, England): One of British Isles' most celebrated courses, this gem, set amid phenomenal sand dunes, has hosted two Ryder Cups (1965, 1969) and eight Open Championships. The fairways are laid out in flat bottom valleys between sand dunes. One of the reasons Royal Birkdale is so popular as a tournament site is that spectators are afforded great views of the action when standing atop the dunes. In 1965, Byron Nelson captained the U.S. squad to a 19 ½-12 ½ win over Harry Weetman's Great Britain squad. And in 1969, Sam Snead and his Americans battled to a draw with Eric Brown and his Great Britain team.
PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles Resort (Auchterarder, Scotland): Set in the heart of Scotland at this traditional resort, the Jack Nicklaus design hosted the 2014 Ryder Cup matches. Spectacular countryside, hill and mountain views in the distance and superb playing conditions highlight the playing experience. At times wildly undulating, the course has both American and Scottish touches, making it a distinctive test of golf skills. Paul McGinley led the Europeans to a 16 ½-11 ½ triumph over Tom Watson and the Americans.