#TravelTuesday: Teeing Up a Golf Bucket-List Trip

by Sue Durio on October 19, 2021 in Travel, Sports,
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Is the Ryder Cup on your travel wish list? Start your game plan now

There’s no better venue than the Ryder Cup, golf’s preeminent biennial global match up, to see the best golfers in the world up close. With the 2020 event a victim of COVID, golf enthusiasts – like our group of eight – had to wait an extra 12 months to fulfill this bucket list item. The September 2021 tournament at Whistling Straits Golf Course in Kohler, Wisconsin, turned out to be well worth the wait, with a record USA win that even non-golfers could cheer.

The 2021 United States Ryder Cup team celebrating at being presented with the winners’ trophy at Whistling Straits. Photo Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Ryder Cup returns to the U.S. in 2025 and it’s not too soon to start gathering your red, white and blue and making plans. Here’s a taste of what to expect from our three days on the course, and how to tee up your own Ryder Cup dream trip.

The Name Of This Game Is: Planning

Scoring Ryder Cup tickets takes formidable planning skills. 2020 Ryder Cup tickets went on sale in October 2019, but we began planning long before that. Your first step: Sign up for the Ryder Cup email list, to stay in the know and be eligible for selection into the ticket lottery. If selected, you’ll be sent an access code a day or so beforehand; be sure you’ve already reviewed ticket options and prices and act quickly when/if your turn to buy arrives. 2020 tickets sold out in less than an hour.

Want Ryder Cup tickets? Put the best planners in your group on it, far in advance of tournament dates. Random lottery selection begins about a year before each tournament. Photo Sue Durio

No luck with the lottery? Try the resale market, but expect much higher prices.

Hook Up Housing Early

The estimated daily crowd of 50,000 attending this year’s Ryder Cup put a significant strain on accommodations in the 2,049-population host city of Kohler. To say housing was limited is like saying the fairways at Whistling Straits Golf Club are narrow. Fans looking to attend the 2025 tournament at Bethpage Black Golf Course, on Long Island, New York, may have more options but don’t expect bargains.

Comfortable shoes and lightweight binoculars are must-have gear for enjoying the Ryder Cup. Photo Sue Durio

We opted for one of the only two houses that could accommodate our group, and paid a premium. But with morning tee times starting at 7am, and play ending at 6:30pm, we had limited time to enjoy its beauty. You can potentially save dollars by booking a hotel or house with fewer amenities and/or farther from the course. Expect to do as much legwork finding accommodations as finding tickets.

Have a Daily Game Plan

The Ryder Cup is unlike any other golf tournament – and so is the way to watch it.

Arrive two to three hours before tee times to get a seat in the first tee grandstands, where you’ll be entertained during the wait with rousing impromptu crowd renditions of patriotic songs, the pledge, Go U-S-A chants and innovative versions of the “wave.” Photo Keith Durio

Don’t expect to follow a favorite player or pairing; the crowds make that virtually impossible. Instead, scope out the course for a good vantage point for each morning and afternoon round of play. If your tickets include practice rounds, use those days to familiarize yourself with the course layout and make a daily plan for your group. Best bets: Greens with large screens so you can watch action on all the holes without relocating. Even so, expect to log several miles each day (we walked more than 18,000 steps daily) just maneuvering the course.

With crowds lining every hole several rows deep, watching the Ryder Cup requires a good daily game plan. If you can score grandstand seats with big-screen television viewing, you can watch play without leaving the comfort of your chair. Photo Sue Durio

Two tips your feet will appreciate: Grandstands and hospitality areas. Grandstands fill fast and once seated, you can leave for no more than 30 minutes or lose your seat. We also invested in upgraded tickets that allowed entrance into the International Pavilion, a great late afternoon gathering spot.

Grab a spot along the sidelines to watch the best pro golfers in the world go through their practice warmups. Caddies like Texan Jordan Spieth’s Michael Greller arrive a couple of hours before their players’ tee times, followed shortly by players. Photo Joan Collier

Summon Your Patriotic Best

At the Ryder Cup, no outfit is too outrageous. We encountered a “flock” of human bald eagles, two astronauts in full NASA gear, several George Washingtons and a band of rowdy patriotic American Marshals who far outshone our red, white and blue. Tip: Scour Fourth of July sales for bargains.

You’re likely to encounter everything from eagles and astronauts in costume to George Washingtons among the enthusiastic spectators at the Ryder Cup. The more outlandish, the better. Photo Joan Collier

Top Three Ryder Cup Experiences

1. Arrive several hours before tee off to snag seats at the #1 tee grandstand. Be ready to belt out your best God Bless America and America the Beautiful with a few thousand fellow golf enthusiasts. Don’t be surprised if, like this year, a player or two chugs a beer with the crowd or even jumps into the grandstands to sing along.

2. Check out the player practice areas a couple of hours before their tee times. While no autographs or interaction are allowed, you get front-row viewing of how the pros and their caddies prepare.

3. And don’t miss being on the final holes for Sunday’s play. From our #9 grandstand seats which also overlooked the 18th green, we comfortably enjoyed the full day of golf. And, best of all, watched Colin Morikawa’s putt there to clinch the USA win.

Go USA will be the theme again when the Ryder Cup returns to the US in 2025. Photo Chelsea Donovan

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Cover photo of Texan Jordan Spieth courtesy Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Freelance writer Sue Durio is a regular contributor to Texas Lifestyle magazine, where she shares her love for adventure travel and unique destinations. As a novice golfer, she loves watching the best of the best play in major tournaments across the US and now has a closet full of red, white and blue. Contact her at www.linkedin.com/in/suedurio.