In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s Ryder Cup week and, to celebrate, I’m delighted to introduce Bernard Gallacher’s ten favourite golf courses.
Bernard will be forever associated with the Ryder Cup. He played in eight and captained the European team on three occasions - culminating in 1995 with what was only the second victory for a European Team on American soil.
Bernard also had a long and successful playing career on the European Tour and was the professional at Wentworth for 25 years. He is a frequent golf broadcaster and commentator and is a much respected voice in the game.
Here are his choices:
I’ve been lucky enough to play at some iconic golf courses in my life and choosing the top 10 is no easy task. Some of these hold incredibly sentimental value to me and have helped shape my career. They offer a great mix of stunning scenery, great design and challenging holes. Here are my top 10 golf courses…
1. ST ANDREWS - OLD COURSE
The whole town of St Andrews eats, lives and breathes golf. When you play the course, you have a surreal feeling that time has stood still and you are playing the same course Old Tom Morris created all those years ago.
UK Golf Guy Review
Muirfield is universally acknowledged as one of the finest seaside courses in the world and rightly so. I have a particular affection for this course, as it was where I won the inaugural Scottish Stroke Play Championships in 1967, aged just 17.
UK Golf Guy Review, Graylyn Loomis
3. ROYAL BIRKDALE
This is a tough, quintessential links course situated on the golden links of the North West coast. I played my first Ryder Cup here in 1969 when I witnessed one of the sport’s finest and most enduring gestures. Jack Nicklaus conceded a short par putt to Tony Jacklin on the last green of the final match, which meant the match was drawn for the first time in the history of the competition. It was an iconic moment which summed up what a gentleman Jack is.
UK Golf Guy Review, Fine Golf
4. ROYAL CINQUE PORTS - DEAL
This is a course I play regularly to this day. On a breezy day, the bumpy fairways and fast greens offer a tough challenge for even the most accomplished golfer.
UK Golf Guy Review, Top 100
5. ROYAL PORTRUSH
Royal Portrush has been neglected as an Open venue since Max Faulkner, my former teacher and mentor, won The Open there in 1951. This Harry Colt-designed course will host next year’s Open and is already a sell-out, such is its popularity.
UK Golf Guy Review, Royal Portrush Website
6. WENTWORTH WEST
Wentworth will always hold a special place in my heart, as I was head professional there for a quarter of a century. The extensive modernising changes to the course in recent years means it is one of the finest inland courses in the world. Every hole offers a difficult challenge and Wentworth West is a worthy home for the BMW PGA Championship, the flagship tournament of the European Tour.
UK Golf Guy Review, Course Flyover
In my opinion, Carnoustie is the toughest course on the Open rota. It’s the only Open Championship course which finishes with water, and where there’s water involved, this becomes a mental barrier for players, as we saw with Jean van de Velde in 1999.
UK Golf Guy Review, van de Velde at Carnoustie
8. SUNNINGDALE - OLD COURSE
Sunningdale is a course I am privileged to play often, as I live nearby. A true heathland course which is comprised of ball-catching heather, pine trees and fast greens, Sunningdale is the perfect golfing venue. Playing there is one of the most pleasant experiences you can have as a golfer.
UK Golf Guy Review, Golf Club Atlas
9. ROYAL LYTHAM AND ST ANNES
Paradoxically, this a seaside course, but you can't actually see the sea! Royal Lytham and St Anne’s is a difficult, heavily bunkered course that has hosted many Opens, top amateur events and women’s major championships. I played there in the 1977 Ryder Cup and memorably (for me anyway!) I defeated Jack Nicklaus in the singles. I got off to a flying start – I was four up after four holes and then I just hung on! It was nervy to say the least.
UK Golf Guy Review, Golf Empire
10. WEST LANCASHIRE
West Lancashire is a hidden gem. I played an Open qualifier there in the 80's and thought it was one of the best seaside courses I have ever played. No architect takes credit for this wonderful layout because it has naturally evolved over time, but it stands out for me. The members are also very friendly, which is another reason to play there.
West Lancs, Youtube guide,
Bernard Gallacher represents Golf Care, a specialist golf insurance provider which covers golfers against common incidents such as injury, equipment theft and property damage. A big thanks to Bernard for taking the time to share his insights.