Less than a week after the successful playing of the Open Championship at Royal Portrush, the golf limelight once again falls on the island of Ireland.
Officials with Ryder Cup Europe announced on Thursday that the Ryder Cup will be played at Ireland’s Adare Manor in 2026. The County Limerick course in the southwest part of the republic, owned by multi-millionaire businessman J.P McManus since 2015, is home to an award-winning five-star hotel, as well as the Tom Fazio-designed “The Golf Course.”
“The course is very close to my heart as I was involved in the recent renovations,” says three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, the Dubliner who will captain the European Ryder Cup side at Whistling Straits next year. “It is now, combining the course and the clubhouse, the best resort in Europe. The conditions are immaculate, second-to-none.”
Still, judging from recent history, it is not necessarily the quality of the course that may have played the biggest role in Adare Manor’s bid proving most attractive to the European Tour, which runs the Ryder Cup along with the PGA of America. Ever since 1981, when the Ryder Cup was played at Walton Heath just outside London, the matches have essentially been sold to the highest bidder when contested in Europe. Which is why they have been played on less-heralded courses than those of the Open Championship rota, such as The Belfry, the K Club, Valderrama, Celtic Manor and the PGA Course at Gleneagles in the last 25 years.
Not insignificantly, according to reports that broke news of the announcement earlier on Thursday, as part of the deal that will see Ireland play host to the biennial contest for just the second time (2006, K Club), the financial future of the European Tour’s Irish Open has been guaranteed until 2026. Again, this is nothing new. The Wales Open (Celtic Manor), the Johnnie Walker Classic (Gleneagles), the French Open (Le Golf National) and the European Open at the K Club near Dublin, where the Ryder Cup was previously held when it was in Ireland in 2006, all benefitted similarly over the last couple of decades. All, however, have either disappeared from the European Tour schedule or suffered a significant downgrading after hosting the Ryder Cup, which reputedly funds the European Tour’s operations for four years.
So money talks loudest where the Ryder Cup is concerned. And the background to this announcement is no different. According to BBC Sport, it is believed that the cost to the Irish government will be tens of millions of Euros. But the hoped for benefit to the economy will be more than €160 million.
“Irish sport and Irish golf is really excelling now,” Irish sports minister Shane Ross told BBC Sport in the wake of Shane Lowry’s thrilling victory at Royal Portrush last week. “We would love to see Shane teeing-up, along with other Irish players, in Adare. It would be absolutely superb.”
Indeed. And expensive.
FUTURE RYDER CUP VENUES
2020: Whistling Straits, Haven, Wis.
2022: Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, Rome, Italy
2024: Bethpage Black, Farmingdale, N.Y.
2026: Adare Manor, County Limerick, Ireland
2028: Hazeltine National, Chaska, Minn.
2032: Olympic Club, San Francisco
2036: Congressional Country Club (Blue Course), Bethesda, Md.