Presidents Cup shines spotlight on Royal Melbourne, one of many gems in the Sandbelt

The 4th hole at Royal Melbourne (Gary Lisbon)

The 2019 Presidents Cup featured a splendid performance by Tiger Woods, both as player and captain, thrilling competition between the United States and International sides and the emergence of young pros Sungjae Im and Abraham Ancer.

But the real star of the weekend was Royal Melbourne, the exquisite Alister MacKenzie design in the Sandbelt, which rewarded angles over power, demanded accuracy approaching the greens and tested each player’s touch, nerve and mental acumen.

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The 16th hole, a 433-yard par-4, was one of our favorites. The players favored the right side of the fairway, unafraid to miss wide in the wispy rough, to assure the proper angle into a undulating green, allowing them to feed their approach shots in from right-to-left and set up makeable putts. Woods closed out his singles match with Ancer on the 16th, draining a 15-foot birdie to give the United States the first point of the final day and jump start the comeback that produced a 16-14 victory.

Cavernous bunkers surround the 13th green at Royal Melbourne. (Gary Lisbon)

Of course, the glowing reviews Royal Melbourne received from players and spectators alike were no surprise to PerryGolf guests, who have enjoyed the temperate climate and finely manicured courses offered throughout the region and across Australia on many occasions. The friendly people and pleasant conditions make the land Down Under one of the five top international golf destinations each year.

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Not only is Melbourne, second-largest city in Australia, a delightful destination but there are seven world-class courses within 20 miles of downtown. Each is renowned for firm, fast turf and sharp greenside bunkers which can pose a problem to even the most advanced short game.

Royal Adelaide has undergone renovations since Dr. MacKenzie designed the course in the 1920s, however, it retains a true links feel, making it unique in a region that features mostly parkland courses. Commonwealth Golf Club, which has played host to the Australian Open, Women’s Australian Open and Victoria Open, finishes with one of the most demanding stretches anywhere. There’s only one water hazard on the layout, but ample trouble lurks. Victoria Golf Club, which recently underwent a renovation by Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking & Mead (OCCM), is where Peter Thomson, five-time champion of The Open, and U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy learned the game. A three-time host of the Australian Open (and future home of the 2022 Australian Open), the layout also welcomed the Australian Masters in 2010 and 2011 with countryman Stuart Appleby and England’s Ian Poulter hoisting the trophy. Kingston Heath, home to the 2016 World Cup of Golf and 2020 Australian Open, may have the most extreme green complexes of any Sandbelt course and the native grasses bordering the fairways provide sharp definition on rugged land. While all the courses take pride in their excellent condition, using Sutton’s Mix to craft fine putting surfaces, Metropolitan Golf Club (home to the 2018 World Cup of Golf) deserves the accolades it receives for being the best of the best from a conditioning standpoint year round. The marquee courses don’t stop there – also deserving of mention include: Yarra Yarra Golf Club, Woodlands Golf Club, Huntingdale Golf Club and Spring Valley Golf Club. An hour away is the Mornington Peninsula, home to three brilliant courses at The National, plus Sorrento Golf Club and the Tom Doak designed St Andrews Beach Golf Course.

The ideal weather and gently rolling terrain make all of the Sandbelt courses a pleasant walking experience.

Away from the course, take a tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens, an 89-acre park founded din 1846 that features more than 8,500 plant species, peaceful lakes and lush lawns. Tour the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the largest stadium in the Southern Hemisphere, with a capacity of 100,000 spectators has served as host for World Cup Finals, Pope John Paul II and the Rolling Stones. The National Sports Museum, which reopens in February 2020 to unveil a massive renovation, is located adjacent to the stadium.

Guests wanting to view Melbourne from an eagle’s perspective will not want to miss the Eureka Skydeck, the Southern Hemisphere’s highest public vantage point. Feeling brave? Step out to The Edge and peer across the vast cityscape with nothing but air beneath you.

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Dunhill Links showcases PerryGolf favorites in the Home of Golf

The Old Course at St Andrews is revered as the Home of Golf and this week serves as the host course for the Dunhill Links Pro-Am.

Among those competing this week in the Alfred Dunhill Links Pro-Am are superstar professionals Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose, along with a fortunate collection of amateurs such as the eclectic, enigmatic, endearing actor, Bill Murray, who was seen hitting shots one-handed early in the week. The tournament, similar to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am held on the U.S. PGA Tour each February, is the consummate combination of competition and camaraderie.

The fortunate golfers are playing three iconic courses, Kingsbarns, Carnoustie and of course the host, The Old Course at St. Andrews, final round site for those who survive the 54-hole cut.

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Guests of PerryGolf are quite familiar with the triumvirate, any of which can highlight an Escorted or Customized Tour to Scotland. For more than 30 years, PerryGolf has been a international leader in global golf travel. PerryGolf now offers Tours to South Africa, South America, New Zealand, Norway and beyond, however, the company, founded by two Scottish brothers, traces its roots to building custom itineraries for golfers who want to play the game in the land where it was born.

Kingsbarns is one of the only links courses built along the Scotland coast in decades.

Kingsbarns, the baby of the bunch by far opened in 2000 and Kyle Phillips’ design was adored from the outset, drawing praise from fellow architect Tom Doak. The North Sea dominates the background on each shot, the wind ripples the flag as tee shots scoot down wide, firm and fast fairways, trying to dodge devilish pot bunkers. Kingsbarns delivers the a full and frisky links experience, albeit in a modern dress.

Carnoustie, considered the most difficult course in The Open rota, crowned Francesco Molinari during The 147th Open in 2018, as he tamed the beast, holding off Tiger Woods, among others. Padraig Harrington also outlasted Sergio Garcia in a playoff at Carnoustie, which has served as The Open host on eight occasions and counts Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Tom Watson among its champions.

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The Old Course will serve as The Open host for the 30th time in 2021 for the 150th edition of the championship. (PerryGolf is proud to be an Authorised Ticket Provider for The Open)

Zach Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen claimed the last two Claret Jugs at St Andrews. Dr. Alister MacKenzie, architect of Royal Melbourne and Augusta National, admired the reward of a precise tee shot on No. 16, the alternative routes to make a par on No. 14 and the intricacies of the famous Road Hole, No. 17. MacKenzie wrote, in the ‘Ideal Holes’ chapter of “The Spirit of St. Andrews” that the Old Course was the only golf course on real links land that has not been defaced by the hand of man.

In describing ideal holes it is extremely difficult to get away from the Old Course at St. Andrews. I was much enamored of the strategy of the course … but today I am still more amazed at its subtlety.”

Dr. Alister MacKenzie, ‘The Spirit of St. Andrews’

MacKenzie’s masterpiece is arguably Cypress Point, perched on the tip of the Monterey Peninsula in California on sandy soil among the cypress and the pines. When a friend mentioned it in the same breath as the indomitable Old Course, MacKenzie scoffed at him.

“St Andrews cannot be compared with Cypress Point,” MacKenzie told his friend. “St. Andrews is first class, there is no second, and Cypress Point comes a very bad third.”

The Old Course meanders through the heart of the charming town and is closed on all but four Sundays each year, adding to its allure, mystique and accessibility. On the links’ day of rest, residents and visitors are often seen sharing a picnic basket adjacent to a fairway or taking a stroll across the Swilcan Bridge, which, through the years, has been the centerpiece for keepsake snapshots and iconic photographs of legendary champions bidding golf’s oldest championship farewell.

Click a photo of your own on a PerryGolf tour, walking those same fairways with your friends and family alongside.

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Ryder Cup returns to Ireland in 2026

Adare Manor will entertain 24 of the world’s best golfers in 2026.

After the Royal & Ancient enjoyed a resounding success in Northern Ireland last week as Shane Lowry won The 148th Open, the European Tour is taking its flagship event to Ireland in 2026.

The Ryder Cup is headed to Adare Manor in County Limerick.

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“We are delighted to announce The 2026 Ryder Cup will be staged in Ireland at Adare Manor which is a world class venue, both in terms of the golf course and the wider resort facilities,” said Guy Kinnings, European Ryder Cup director.

The Ryder Cup returns to the Republic for the second time and the first since Europe crushed the U.S. 18.5 to 9.5 in 2006 at the K Club.

“Aside from having provided three Captains over the past four editions, in addition to world-class talent such as Rory McIlroy, Irish players such as the late Christy O’Connor Jr., Philip Walton, Eamonn Darcy, Graeme McDowell and Paul McGinley are intrinsically linked with providing Europe’s winning moments over the years,” Kinnings said.

Adare Manor, owned by J.P and Noreen McManus, is a world class resort and the golf course, designed by prolific American architect Tom Fazio underwent a extensive renovation in 2016-17. PerryGolf takes guests there in late summer 2021 on our Irish Links Golf Cruise spanning 12 peaceful nights on the outstanding Azamara Quest, which provides the ideal home to tour Ireland’s beauty.

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“I am delighted that the prestigious Ryder Cup will return to Ireland,” J.P. McManus said. “It is a wonderful tribute to the many great Irish golf ambassadors and success stories Ireland has had in golf over the years and a nice follow on from Shane’s momentous Open win on Sunday in Portrush. The nation was behind Shane, it was a great achievement and very well deserved.”

Adare Manor played host to the JP McManus Pro-Am in 2005 and 2010 and a star-studded field including Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jon Rahm is expected to return in July 2020 and compete in the event again.

Golf is the centerpiece of any trip to Ireland. PerryGolf guests play the wonderful array of modern jewels and classic links on the island, such as world top-10 Royal County Down, Old Head and the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush which received excellent reviews from competitors and fans alike after it served as wonderful host for The Open.

PerryGolf also offers an Irish Links Golf Cruise in 2020 that includes a round at Ballybunion Old, arguably the most famous course in Ireland prior to last week’s championship. And, if playing the Ryder Cup courses of Europe is a personal goal, test your skills at the 2022 site, Marco Simone, on our Best of Italy 2020 Escorted Tour which includes a stay at gorgeous Lake Como and four nights in Rome.

Golf’s best end major year with The 148th Open at Royal Portrush

This week, for the first time since 1951, The Open returns to Northern Ireland. The field tees off Thursday at The Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush beginning at 1:35 a.m. EDT (6:35 a.m. local time).

This marks the second time golf’s oldest championship has been held outside Scotland and England. Modifications have been made to the venerable links, which was designed by Harry S. Colt. Starting their project in 2015, esteemed architects MacKenzie and Ebert used land from the adjacent Valley course to build two new holes – the 7th and 8th – specifically for the tournament.

Francesco Molinari is the defending champion. Rory McIlroy, who grew up in nearby Hollywood, is the betting favorite and shot a course-record 61 at Royal Portrush in the 2005 North of Ireland Championship. Since his victory in 2014 at Royal Liverpool, McIlroy hasn’t finished outside the top-5 in The Open, either.

Brooks Koepka, seeking his second major title of the year and fifth consecutive top-2 finish, has loyal caddie – and longtime Royal Portrush member – Ricky Elliott on the bag. Tiger Woods hasn’t played since Pebble Beach. He’s paired with Patrick Reed and Matt Wallace and tees off at 10:10 a.m. EDT on Thursday. Dustin Johnson hopes to bag an elusive second major after a series of close calls.

Expect to see chilly temperatures in the 50s and 60s, daily rain and of course, wind. Severe changes in elevation enhance the challenge at Royal Portrush and experience is a vital tool for those hoping to hoist the Claret Jug. The average age of the past 10 champions is 35 years, 3 months. The competitors won’t be able to get away with purposely overshooting the 18th green, either. They’ll face a devilish lie in the drop zone on the 474-yard-par 4 that finishes a diabolical three-hole closing stretch that’s certain to finish The Open hopes of more than one competitor.

PerryGolf is an Authorised Ticket Provider for The Open and proud to escort guests to the final round of this year’s championship after they’ve played some of the finest links in the British Isles such as Royal County Down, Royal Birkdale and Castle Stuart. There’s time to reserve your spot on a variety of Cruises, Escorted Tours and Customized offerings available for 2020 and 2021.

The 150th Open at St. Andrews in 2021 is certain to be a special experience in the Home of Golf. On one particular Escorted Tour, PerryGolf guests will play memorable rounds on a quartet of courses that have combined to host The Open on 35 occasions and wrap their trip by attending the final two rounds of the championship. PerryGolf is also pleased to take golfers to test their game on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush as part of our new Irish Links Golf Cruise, which has offerings in 2020 and 2021.

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The new, condensed PGA Tour schedule put in place for the 2018-19 season means that The Open is the final major of the calendar year. It’s been a thrilling season, beginning with Woods’ exciting victory at The Masters, Koepka’s dominant performance at Bethpage and Gary Woodland’s flawless weekend to stave off Koepka at Pebble Beach. Still, the golf world has anticipated this championship at Royal Portrush ever since it was announced. The course is in excellent condition and certain to offer a stiff test. After a practice round earlier this week, the affable American pro Rickie Fowler avoided predicting a winning score due to the uncertain conditions ahead, saying simply that any round under par would be a good one.

Enjoy.

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Strong field to battle Lahinch Old in Dubai Duty Free Irish Open

The sixth hole at Lahinch offers a striking view of Liscannor Bay. Irish pro Christy O’ Connor Jr., Europe’s hero in the 1989 Ryder Cup, called it the one of the best par-4s in the world. Hard to argue with him.

Lovers of links golf, natural beauty and legendary layouts enjoy a treat this week as the Lahinch Old Course plays host to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open for the first time.

Ranked No. 35 in the world, Lahinch is nestled on Ireland’s west coast, “The Wild Atlantic Way,” and has been a treasured favorite of PerryGolf clients for decades.

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The layout has also been a regular host for elite amateur championships over the last 127 years, however this is its first foray as an European Tour host. The event, which starts Thursday, is the largest sporting event ever held in County Clare and has injected energy into the village and money into the economy. More than 10 million pounds were spent on the course and village in preparation according to the Irish Times and another 6-7 million pounds are expected to be generated this week.

Located 60 miles south of Galway and 45 miles west of Limerick, the course has welcomed many esteemed guests through the years. Byron Nelson visited in the 1960s. Phil Mickelson toured the course in 1991 prior to the Walker Cup matches, has returned on other occasions and was granted honorary membership. In 2009, Stewart Cink prepared for The Open at Lahinch while the man he defeated in that championship, Tom Watson, considers the course one of his favorites. Read more about the character of Lahinch and the characters who have passed through.

Lahinch enjoys an illustrious architectural history. Old Tom Morris designed the original 18 holes in 1892. The unknown Charles “Mo” Gibson made changes in 1907. The great Dr. Alister MacKenzie (Royal Melbourne West, Cypress Point) renovated portions in 1927, although chunks of his work were lost to the sea. In recent times, Dr. Martin Hawtree and his team have overseen changes.

Lahinch will make the finest and most popular golf course that I, 
or I believe anyone else, ever constructed.”

Dr. Alister MacKenzie (1926)

The course offers views of the ocean – though it’s not really in play for most golfers – large grassy dunes, beautiful vistas and the firm, springy turf that characterizes courses in the linksland. From a strategic standpoint, hearty par-4s are the essence of the layout, as No. 3, 6, 10 and 17 feature a possible long iron approach shot to a shallow, sloping green complex.

Hole #10

The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open has attracted a strong field, although next weekend’s World Golf Championship tournament in Memphis probably kept some highly ranked American professionals from crossing the Atlantic to play Lahinch.

The betting favorite is Jon Rahm, fresh off a tie for 2nd in last week’s Andalucia Masters – held at another jewel in the PerryGolf lineup, Valderrama, which played host to the 1997 Ryder Cup.

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Joining the talented young Spaniard in the field are familiar stars from the European circuit such as Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Wallace, Shane Lowry, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell, who won the 2000 South of Ireland Amateur Championship here.

Of course, all eyes of professional golf and all of the game’s best players will arrive in Ireland in two weeks for The 148th Open at Royal Portrush. PerryGolf clients will attend the final round with co-founder Colin Dalgleish (only one golf spot remains) and play a loaded roster of British Isles offerings as they cruise from Edinburgh to Southampton.

PerryGolf is an Authorised Ticket Provider for The Open (sometimes referred to as the British Open or Open Championship). Golfers and golf fans wanting to experience the game’s oldest championship at Royal St. George’s next summer can do so on the 2020 British Isles Golf Cruise

Golf Channel coverage of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is from 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Be sure to tune in and become better acquainted with a course worth knowing.