The Royal and Ancient Golf Club has announced that the 2007 Walker Cup match between Great Britain and Ireland and the United States of America will be played at Royal County Down, only the second club in Ireland, after Portmarnock in 1991, to host the biennial contest
When the match is played over the testing Newcastle links which lies round the curve of Dundrum Bay and within sight of Slieve Donard and the mountains of Mourne, Royal County Down will become only the second club in Ireland, after Portmarnock in 1991, to host the biennial contest.
Garth McGimpsey, the captain for this year’s encounter and a member of the 1991 team said, ” We had great support for that match and there is no doubt that Irish golfers will be right behind the team when they take on America in Newcastle.Royal County Down is a marvellous course and I am delighted that the Walker Cup is going to one of Ireland’s finest, and without question one of its most scenic courses.”
Royal County Down has hosted major championships almost since it was founded in 1889 when Old Tom Morris was given the task of laying out the original course. Substantial changes took place during the late 1890’s and by the turn of the century the course had evolved into two quite distinct loops of 9 holes. By the 1930’s, following advice from Harry Vardon before the First War, and later by H.S.Colt, there was little left that needed changing. Apart from minor ongoing alterations and improvements to the closing holes in 1998 it has remained largely unaltered in the last 100 years.
Commenting on the announcement David Hill, Championship Secretary of the R&A said, “Having worked closely with Royal County Down in setting up the 1999 Amateur Championship, we are delighted that we will be back in four year’s time for the Walker Cup.
“Royal County Down has always hosted popular and highly successful R&A events and we have no doubt that the Walker Cup will bring even more credit to this outstanding links course.”
Among major events which have been played at Royal County Down are the Amateur Championship (1970 & 1999), the Irish Close Amateur Championship (10 times), the Irish Open Amateur Championship (15 times) and in Ladies Golf, the Irish Ladies Closed Championship (10 times), the British Ladies Championship (7 times) and the 1968 Curtis Cup.
More recently, it hosted the 2000, 2001 and 2002 Senior British Opens won respectively by Christy O’Connor Jnr, Ian Stanley and Noboru Sugai.
Since 1922 when the Walker Cup was first played, the records stand at USA 31, GB&I 6 with one match halved. The 2003 match will be played at Ganton on 6th and 7th September and the 2005 contest at Chicago Golf Club, Illinois on 13th and 14th August.
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club www.RandA.org