You will have seen in the press that the Ryder Cup – the biennial golf tournament between Europe and the USA – is coming to Gleneagles in 2014 and will be played on The PGA Centenary Course between 26th-28th September next year.
The PGA Centenary Course is the course that Jack built – Jack Nicklaus to be precise, who in a stellar career amassed no fewer than 18 wins of the ‘Golf Majors’, the four championship events that includes the Masters and the Open.
Nicklaus is one of the most respected course designers in the world and The PGA Centenary Course was his first course design in Scotland. Even for a champion and acclaimed golf architect like Nicklaus, the new course was a challenge. It had to be a great golf course and, set as it is in the heart of Scotland, the country that gave the world golf, Nicklaus described the ground as "The finest parcel of land in the world I have ever been given to work with".
The last Ryder Cup to be played on Scottish soil was over 40 years ago when Great Britain & Ireland, as they were then, played the United States at Muirfield in East Lothian. The US triumphed 19-13 on that occasion with Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Arnold Palmer all in the winning team. Brian Barnes and Bernard Gallacher were the Scottish representatives for GB&I.
However, it was back in 1921 where it all began for Gleneagles. James Braid (the designer of the King’s Course), Harry Vardon, J H Taylor, Jock Hutchison, Freddie McLeod and Walter Hagen, were just some of the names who were competing on the King’s in the renowned Glasgow Herald Tournament on 6 June that year.
At the conclusion of the tournament an impromptu match was played. Great Britain versus the United States. Nobody knew at the time, but for the stellar cast list who gathered on The King’s Course, for the first-ever meeting between Great Britain and American professionals, the seed was sown to allow a regular transatlantic match to flower. At the end of a special day, the hosts won 9-3.
Such was the talent, across both sides, that by the time the 20 competing players had retired they had secured 35 Major titles between them and left a majestic mark on the annals of golf history.
A further match followed over the East Course at Wentworth in 1926, before The Ryder Cup officially started in 1927 at Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts. It was to be 2001 before Gleneagles secured its return to The Ryder Cup fold, if you like, fittingly winning the right to host the 40th staging of the matches in 2014 - a homecoming for the competition it could be said.