• Alistair Tait

Sunningdale Splendour

Great championships, amateur or professional, should go to great courses. So news that the 2024 Curtis Cup is to go to Sunningdale Golf Club is most welcome.

Don’t you just wish most professional tournaments were also held on classic golf courses, rather than only considering those venues willing to pay a fee to attract the best professionals?

Say what you want about the R&A, but the governing body usually gets it right when it comes to picking tournament venues, especially for events like the Curtis Cup, Walker Cup, and other major events. Look at the list of venue choices this year: Sunningdale held this year’s Senior Open, Ganton the Senior Amateur Championship, Ashridge the Women’s Senior Amateur, Woodhall Spa the Home Internationals, Nairn the Amateur Championship, Barassie the Women’s Amateur, Conwy this week’s Curtis Cup, Royal St George’s the Open Championship, Carnoustie the AIG Women’s Open, Royal Cinque Ports the Boys Amateur, and Fulford hosted the Girls Championship

Tell me you wouldn’t be happy playing those 11 courses on a regular basis for the rest of your life. Most of us would think we’d died and gone to golfing heaven.

That the best team match in women’s amateur golf should go to this heathland gem is perhaps apropos. After all, Sunningdale and amateur golf almost go hand in hand considering Bobby Jones helped put the course on the map when he shot what was then considered the perfect score, a 66 in qualifying for the 1926 Open Championship that consisted of two nines of 33, with 33 shots and 33 putts.

Sunningdale has staged one of the best tournaments hardly anyone has heard of for as long as The Masters has been in existence. Almost anyone who is anyone in British golf has competed in the Sunningdale Foursomes. Held every March since 1934, it is arguably the most unique tournament in golf, featuring amateurs and professionals, women and men.

Many think the Masters opens every golf season. Not for true aficionados in Great Britain. The Sunningdale foursomes marks the beginning of the British golf season, when friends reunite for good old fashioned foursomes golf. No prize money for the winners, just bragging rights for another 12 months, and a chance to join a winners' list that includes the likes of Joyce Wethered; Open champions Alf Padgham and Max Faulkner; five-time Amateur champion Sir Michael Bonallack; European Tour winners Neil Coles, Sam Torrance, Richard Boxall, Ronan Rafferty, Roger Chapman, Anthony Wall, Ross Fisher, Simon Khan and former world number one Luke Donald; Ladies European Tour winners Micky Walker, Corinne Dibnah and Dale Reid.

Indeed, as I wrote last year, Sunningdale was way ahead of the curve when it came to the modern trend of mixed golf – the club has happily staged a successful mixed tournament for over 85 years.

As for classic courses, many put Sunningdale’s Old Course at top of the list when it comes to best inland course in the British Isles. It’s certainly in my top three along with Ganton and Woodhall Spa.

“The Curtis Cup is the apex of women’s amateur golf in Great Britain and Ireland and the USA and we are thrilled to be staging the match at Sunningdale,” R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said. “We are determined to give the best players the best platforms on which to compete and that will certainly be the case at Sunningdale.”

#JustSaying: “Sunningdale is one of the finest days’ worth of golf you could arrange.” Tom Doak

Photograph by David Cannon/Getty Images courtesy of the R&A

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