Ryder Cup 2014: A Sort of Homecoming
The dates for the Ryder Cup 2014 at Gleneagles are the 26th to the 28th of September 2014.
As Gleneagles is purely the venue, we would not envisage that there will be any room availability within the hotel between the 21st and 29th of September.
A sort of homecoming...
When the Ryder Cup matches come to Gleneagles in 2014 you could say that the tournament is returning to the place where it all began. Oh sure, history remembers that the event didn't begin officially until 1927, when Walter Hagen's USA trounced Ted Ray's Great Britainat Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts. But what about 1921 at Gleneagles? You don't know about that? You haven't heard about the first time a USA team set foot on Scottish soil to play the best we had to offer? Well, listen up, because this is a quite a story.
In May '21, the RMS Aquitania, built at the John Brown shipyard in Clydebank and one of the Cunard Line's grand trio of ships along with the Mauretania and the Lusitania, pointed her way out of New York Harbour and set sail for her homeland of Britain. On board were 10 golfers. Not just any golfers. Famous golfers. Legends. Some Americans and some transplanted Scots who had sought to make a nice life for themselves in the new world in the early part of the 20th century. There was Hagen out of New York and Wild Bill Mehlhorn from Texas and alongside them, wrapped in the Stars and Stripes, were Jock Hutchison from St Andrews and Freddie McLeod from North Berwick.
This was the USA team coming to Gleneagles to take on a storied British side that had at its heart, James Braid, Harry Vardon, JH Taylor, Ted Ray and George Duncan. Icons all. They had 20 major championship victories between them. Duncan was the reigning Open champion, Ray the holder of the US Open.
On the other side, Hutchison held the USPGA title and Hagen had already begun to establish his legend with two majors of an eventual eleven. By the time the players from both sides had retired they had secured 35 major championships between them and had left an indelible mark on golf history.
Gleneagles in 1921 was the first time that an American golf side had ever been assembled, the first time the nations had come together for a match. And it took place right here in Perthshire. They called it the International Challenge, but, effectively, it was forerunner for the Ryder Cup.
It was the brainchild of Jim Harnett of Golf Illustrated magazine in the States, who raised the price of the trip by appealing to the golf clubs of America to contribute what they could in order to create one of the great spectacles in the history of the game.
On June 6, the action began. Five matches in foursomes and 10 singles to determine the king's of the golf world. Since the regal splendour of the Gleneagles hotel was still a few years in the distance - they hadn't quite finished building it yet- the players were housed in railway carriages. But if they lacked luxury, the beauty of the surroundings more than made up for it.
The other morning matches belonged to Britain. James Sherlock and Josh Taylor beat Charles Hoffner and Wild Bill 1-up while Arthur Havers - who would win the Open in 1923 -and James Ockenden did for the heavily fancied Wilfrid Reid and George McLean. Havers and Ockenden put on a short game exhibition that was talked about it for years after.
"Pretty as a picture," said Hagen as he surveyed the scenery. "If a man can't play golf here then he can't play," said Wild Bill. "Aye," said Duncan. "This is as beautiful as golf gets." And coming from George, the sternest pro around, that was some compliment.
The day dawned bright and cheerful. "The sun lit up the golden glory of the gorse," reported The Scotsman. Some scribes reckoned that America would win, that they had young and hungry players in their ranks who would sweep Britain's old guard away. You could see where they coming from. Vardon and Braid were 51 years old. The former had suffered terrible illness and had won his last major seven years before; the latter had finished his Open championship domination fully 10 years earlier. Against Hagen's young guns, you could see why some thought they would struggle.
The test of Britain's old boys came early. After Duncan and Abe Mitchell had halved the opening match with Hutchison and Hagen, the attention turned to the action behind them. Vardon and Ray were a team again and they were up against the emerging hot-shots Emmet French, from the Youngstown Country Club in Ohio, and Tom Kerrigan, from the Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, New York.
Vardon and Ray rolled back time and destroyed their opponents. They peppered the flags and didn't give the visitors a second's peace, running out winners 5&4.
Now the gallery switched to two more British veterans doing battle with one of America's stellar partnerships. Braid and JH Taylor were up against the transplanted Scot, McLeod, and Clarence Hackney from Atlantic City. Taylor was in majestic form, pulling off a succession of shots from trouble spots that kept the Brits in the contest. It ended in a half.
The sun might have been beating down on the Americans, but they were in trouble now, trailing 4-1with the 10 singles matches to come. They packed their heaviest hitters at the top of the draw, sending the redoubtable Jock out first with The Haig following behind. Those were two games that America to be won.
Neither were. Duncan, playing the captain's part, took out Jock 2&1 while Mitchell and Hagen fought an engrossing battle all the way to the 18th where the match was halved. Ray and JH Taylor both went down, to French and McLeod, but that little blip was eased by the genius of Vardon and Braid in the middle of the order.
The pair of them produced golf that belonged to their glory days, Vardon beat the gallant Kerrigan 3&1, shooting the lights out in 64 strokes for the 17 holes played. Braid was every bit as good, putting Hackney to the sword 5&4.
Havers lost to Reid for a consolation point for the Americans, but Ockenden, Sherlock and Josh Taylor won the last three matches. Britain had routed the Americans 10 and a half to 4 and a half.
Duncan accepted the plaudits and thanked the visitors. French, the American captain, did likewise. "This is a glorious place to be," he said. They all agreed that these matches should be repeated sometime, that there was great potential in the idea of a Transatlantic joust.
Soon that competition would be born in the guise of the Ryder Cup. Soon, you might say, that the Ryder Cup is coming home.