The Ryder Cup kicks-off Friday at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota. Next to The Masters, it draws one of the biggest audiences all year. But what makes for a great Ryder Cup? Some point to the raw displays of emotion, tantalizing storylines and scrutinized pairings that make for “must-watch” TV. Astute followers of the game, on the other hand, will argue that the venue fuels the drama.
Case in point, one of the most challenging courses in America set the stage for one of the most epic Ryder Cups in history. Known as “The War by the Shore,” the 1991 Ryder Cup was contested on The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, an annual mainstay on national “most difficult” lists. Its architect, Pete Dye, knows how to produce dramatic moments during a round of golf. One look at Bernhard Langer’s face after he missed a six-footer to retain the cup for Europe spoke volumes to the theatre Dye created along the Atlantic Ocean coastline.
For golfers looking to star in their own Ryder Cup, Pound Ridge Golf Club –the only Dye design in New York – is the perfect spot to host a mock rendition. Its closing stretch of holes is among the finest in the Empire State. A short par 3 with a green surrounded by rocks, long par 5 and risk-reward 18th make for exciting conclusions to any round. Here’s a suggestion on how to make the next visit to Pound Ridge Ryder Cup-worthy.
Split the foursome into two teams of two; pair the lowest handicap with the highest for the fairest competition. For the front nine, play “Better Ball,” a format using the better of the two players’ scores for each hole. For the back nine, play “Match Play,” a one-on-one format in which the better score between the two competitors wins. Each match is a point; loser buys the first round of drinks.
If golfers want to extend the match, they can take advantage of Pound Ridge’s 9-hole, same-day booking rate. Now a 27-hole event, begin the match by playing “Better Ball” on the front nine followed by a “Scramble” on the back nine (avoid “Alternate Shot” at all costs, it’s the quickest way to lose a friend). For the final nine holes play “Match Play.” And yes, losers still buy drinks.