The 2023 Junior Ryder Cup takes place this week in Rome from Tuesday September 26 – Thursday September 28 at Golf Nazionale and Marco Simone Golf & Country Club.
In a change to the previous format, the Junior Ryder Cup will now take place over three days instead of two with Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, the Ryder Cup venue, hosting the decisive singles matches for the first time, which will also be broadcast live on television.
Junior Ryder Cup 2023: When and where will the matches take place?
Golf Nazionale, which hosted the Italian Challenge Open earlier this year, will be the venue for the first two days of foursomes and fourballs between male and female juniors from Europe and the United States, on Tuesday September 26 and Wednesday September 27. The competition will then move to Marco Simone Golf & Country Club on Thursday September 28, the day before the venue hosts the Ryder Cup itself, providing an exciting curtain-raiser to golf’s greatest team contest.
The 2023 European Junior Ryder Cup Team, captained by 2014 Ryder Cup player Stephen Gallacher, consists of six boys and six girls. The six automatic qualifiers included three boys – Englishman Kris Kim, Ireland’s Sean Keeling and Germany’s Peer Wernicke – and three girls – Spain’s Rocio Tejedo, Swede Meja Örtengren and Germany’s Helen Briem.
Six players were then selected by Gallacher: Scotland’s Connor Graham, Ukraine’s Lev Grinberg and Italian Giovanni Binaghi for the boys, while Sweden’s Nora Sundberg, Spain’s Andrea Revuelta Goicoechea and Italian Francesca Fiorellini were selected for the girls.
European captain Gallacher expects “magical experience”
“It is a tremendous honour to be Captain of the European Junior Ryder Cup side and I am looking forward to working with and showcasing the most exciting future talent in Europe,” said Gallacher. “My uncle has captained the Ryder Cup team three times and I was lucky enough to play in 2014 so the Ryder Cup has always been a big part of my life.
“I’ve got a front row seat to watch the best players in the world at their level and golf’s future World Number Ones.
“We’ve got a very strong team and we’re looking forward to a robust but fair competition against the U.S played in the spirit of the game.
“Playing the final day at Marco Simone will be a magical experience for the teams who get the opportunity to compete in front of Ryder Cup crowds on the Ryder Cup course for the first time.
“Walking on to the first tee yesterday during our practice round and getting to meet Captain Luke Donald was an amazing experience for our team.”
The U.S. Team, captained by PGA Past President Paul Levy, is seeking its seventh straight victory and owns a 7-3-1 all-time record in the biennial competition. The team features six boys and six girls who are U.S. citizens and members of the high school graduating class of 2024 or younger.
The 2023 U.S. Team includes Junior PGA Championship winner Gianna Clemente, Leigh Chien, Kylie Chong, Anna Davis, Ryleigh Knaub, Yana Wilson for the girls. The selected boys comprises Junior PGA Championship winner Miles Russell, Jackson Byrd, Billy Davis, Nicholas Gross, Will Hartman, Jay Leng Jr.
“These are the greatest young players in America and they are ready to flourish on the biggest of stages this week. It’s going to be a special tournament for everyone involved. This is not just about wanting to win for your continent but it’s also about the fellowship, the friendship and the memories that the players will create.
“This is a very special experience to be in Rome. For a Ryder Cup, I don’t think we’ve ever had a better venue. It’s a special match play golf course.
“To be the U.S. Team Captain is an absolute honour and it is by far the proudest moment in my career.”
Spider-Man can not only place nets unerringly, but also a golf ball in the hole – or at least Spider-Man actor Tom Holland can. The 27-year-old Briton is quite respectable with his 6 handicap and is a regular guest at celebrity tournaments. It is unforgettable how he almost played his way onto the European Ryder Cup team in 2021 with a single stroke. On the 18th hole at the Pro-Am before the BMW PGA Championship, then Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington promised, “If you hit the green, I’ll take you on the team.” And he almost had to keep his word – but only almost. “For a moment I thought maybe I could become a golfer,” Holland joked after the moment.
Yet golf is more than just a casual pastime for the actor. “I’m addicted to golf,” he told People magazine in an interview a few years ago. “It’s a nice way to disconnect from what’s going on around you. I turn my phone off and I just enjoy being outdoors with my friends, my brothers and my dad.” Along with his brothers, he again competed in the 2023 Pro-Am at Wentworth.
Golf has another effect on him. “Golf is also incredibly humbling,” Holland said. “Over the last few years, I’ve been very lucky that my career has taken twists and turns, but all the kind of twists and turns that I could only have dreamed of. And very often, I’ll go out and play golf to celebrate, and it will very, very quickly humble me by destroying me.” “So,” he added, “that’s why golf is valuable.”
Whether athletes or actors, many public figures who can’t risk getting injured find a secure future in playing golf. That’s just as true for DFB soccer players as it is for Hollywood stars. For example, the first thing Holland wished for after the end of the Spider-Man trology with “No Way Home” was to go skiing. “That’s something I’ve not really been allowed to do because it’s obviously a dangerous sport. I’ve been very careful over the years, which is why I’ve become obsessed with golf because it’s the only sport I can play without getting injured.”
All the more reason for Holland to introduce the sport to his one friend and fellow actress Zendaya, The Hollywood Reporter knows. “I gave her a few lessons. She’s very talented by nature, a real athlete, so she picked it up very quickly.”
Superheroes on the golf course
But Holland may not be the best superhero on the golf course. Ant-Man Quantum Mania star Kathryn Newton also swings a club regularly and also plays with a 6 handicap. Both competed in the Pro-Am of the BMW PGA Championship 2023 in Wentworth, although not in a direct duel. That challenge is still open.
Genesis has been involved in golf in Asia and America for some time. In Europe, the carmaker has just sponsored the Scottish Open for the second time. Graeme Russell, Chief Brand Officer of Genesis, talks to Golf Post about different markets, long-term commitments and Korean hospitality.
Interview with Graeme Russell, Chief Brand Officer of Genesis
Golf Post: Hi Graeme, so we’re here sitting after the closure of the second Genesis Scottish Open. We want to talk more about Genesis the brand in general and not kind of golf as the tournament so much. So it’s kind of the second year in Europe and also in the same timeframe since you introduced your brand here in the market. What can you tell me about the connection between Genesis and golf? Why is it so important for you?
Graeme Russell: Yes, absolutely. Well, thank you. It’s a pleasure to have you here. It’s a sunny day in Scotland and the wind is blowing and we’ve just witnessed a great winner in Rory McIlroy at the Genesis Scottish Open. This is the culmination of many years of Genesis, involvement, investment and support for golf. The Genesis brand was launched in November 2015. Shortly after that, in 2016, we became a partner of the Korean PGA and their point system and really starting to support Korean golf. And then we went beyond that and started to become a significant partner and supporter of global golf. And that was with the Genesis Open at the time, and latterly, has become the Genesis Invitational. And then of course, with the Genesis Championship in Korea. So that was really our start in golf. And then two years ago, we became the title sponsor of the Genesis Scottish Open, now co-sanctioned, and that really completes a portfolio of three iconic, prestigious tournaments. For us. The rationale for Genesis in golf, I think we believe that as a premium luxury brand is introducing ourselves onto the global stage. Golf was a great platform for us. It aligns with our values to be audacious to be progressive, and that distinctly Korean element very much is, of course, Korea, Women’s golfing in Korea particularly and then naturally men’s golf. There’s a huge passion for the sport. So I think Golf was very much a natural fit for Genesis. And we’ve gone on since to enhance our portfolios, I’m sure we’ll talk about in a minute. We talked about R&D for audacious commitment, because I think there’s very few sponsors, there’s probably a handful, they’d be FedEx, maybe Rolex, to have this kind of prestigious portfolio and significant investment and commitment to the school. So we’re very proud. And today, especially when we’re talking about an hour and a bit after the conclusion of the Genesis Scottish Open with a fantastic winner, one of the best golfers of this generation, winning our tournaments.
Golf Post: So we are in Scotland, in Europe, and still Genesis as a brand in Europe is still quite new into the market, two years into the market by now. How would you describe the genesis brand for an European audience? What is the USP that you bring into the market?
Graeme Russell: I think very simply, we have a very strong design component, we have a world class design team, Luke Duncan, Volker Sanyo Lea, arguably two of the best designers in the global automotive industry, the technology that we’re able to incorporate into our vehicles into our Genesis models, and into our Genesis customer experience is right up there. It has been world class. And then I think the differentiator is our hospitality. This Korean philosophy of “Son-Nim”, how we look after people, whether it’s for the golf tournament, looking after the players and the caddies, holding them close, of course, or whether it’s looking after our customers, particularly warranty programs, who come to you to test drive programs, etc.That’s that feeling of “Son-Nim”. And treating customers as our guests is very important.
Design, of course, has led the Genesis brands since its launch. Technology is a very important part. And hospitality, the way we look after all people who are friends of the Genesis brand, is that combination that makes us, I believe, unique from the other brands, of course, in the premium luxury space.
Golf Post: What I noticed here is that there weren’t many big signs and claims of Genesis out there on the golf course. Is there any sort of claim that Genesis is going to put out there?
Graeme Russell: I think, we talk about our audacious commitment to golf, but I think we’re in that distinctly Korean philosophy, which I’ve had the pleasure of really learning since I moved to Korea 18 months ago. I’m a Scott. I’ve spent my family life in Edinburgh. This is my home tournament, but I live in Korea and work there with the team. And I’ve really learned that there’s a very thoughtful and mindful humbleness about Korea and Korean brands. And so for example, we didn’t want to put cars all over a beautiful golf course. We are very happy to let the golf course show its true design and natural beauty. We want the plenty of players and the spectators and the fans and everyone, really just to appreciate the golf course. And then we of course, can communicate with them in those sort of off course facilities. So I think you know, each brand takes its own approach, how they feel it’s right, we have a distinct thing for me and a philosophy and mindset that we apply to all of our tournaments. It starts with looking after the players from when they arrive in Scotland to the transportation experience, the accommodation experience, the partners that the renascence club, we look after them with great gym facilities, the player and caddies cafe on the land, which is a kind of unique feature and global goal. The fact that we look after the caddies if the player scores a hole in one, both the player and the caddy on 17. So I think it’s a unique mindset. It’s a unique philosophy, and it’s one that we’re very proud of. We have a lot of support within Genesis for this approach. It is a long term vision, this long term commitment. So, we’re very proud of how we approach the game of golf globally.
Golf Post: So from a brand perspective, how difficult is it to set up the brand properly at a golf tournament or the golf venue? So what goes through your mind when you think about setting it up?
Graeme Russell: I think we follow a very considered approach. We work with the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour. This is the only co-sanctioned event. So it’s very much an elevated event, there was a small number of global partners involved in the game, you know, FedEx, and Rolex, and then Genesis being the title sponsor. So we’re very considered about how we present our brand. For example, we want the look and feel the tonality to be right. Sometimes we will make our logos smaller, for example. So the aesthetic of the logos, we’re not overly present, it’s about fitting in with the environment. I mentioned that we haven’t put car placements all over the golf course, we kept them closer towards the clubhouse, because we wanted the natural beauty of the Renaissance, this modern links golf course, in a spectacular Golf Country, in East Lothian. Behind all of this we have two sets of objectives. Our first objective is to look after the players and the caddies, their families and the team around them. And we believe if the player and the caddy are well looked after that will enhance their performance, their ability to play well in the tournament. If they’re playing well, if they’re enjoying themselves, if they’re comfortable, they’re going to play better golf, and the fans will have a better experience, they’re going to see the world’s best golfers playing their best golf. And we saw that throughout the whole week. And then after that, definitely the fans are enjoying it here, the fans in person, but the spectators who are participating through TV and through media coverage.
And then of course, we have our hospitality facility where we’re sitting today. And we’re able to host a wonderful dining and hospitality. So it really is that sort of ecosystem or that complete experience that we’re looking to do. And so it’s the overall Genesis experience, not just the conventional marketing. Of course, our secondary objectives are those marketing KPIs, of course, it’s a significant investment to be a title sponsor on either the DP World Tour, or the PGA Tour or in the Co-sanctioned event. We have the Genesis Invitational on the PGA Tour, now designated event and one of the top events, we’ve got one of the leading events within the Rolex series on the DP World Tour. And of course, we’ve got the Genesis Championship in Korea, so it’s a significant investment. So there must be a very careful attention and due diligence on how these events perform for the brand. They raise awareness, whether it’s a new market like Europe, or whether it’s about reinforcing the appreciation for the brand and markets.
Golf Post: You already mentioned the Genesis Invitational. It’s also already known that you have an affiliation with Tiger Woods as the host. Are there any plans to have more players affiliated to the brand and have some of the best golf players as brand ambassadors?
Graeme Russell: Firstly, we’re very proud. The friendship, the partnership with Tiger Woods and the TGR foundation is very, very important to Genesis and we look forward to continuing that partnership. The Invitational has grown from the Genesis Open to the Genesis Invitational and I think we’ll continue to have an elevated status. In terms of beyond that, I think it’s a really interesting question, because we have a very long list of the most prestigious portfolios in global golf. As we mentioned, the Invitation on the PGA Tour, a co-sanctioned event here with PGA Tour and DP World Tour, a tournament in Korea, the Genesis championship and also the Korea Championship presented by Genesis, and then also a partnership with the APGA, partnership with the Presidents Cup of which we are the official automotive partner, and a series of other sort of secondary sponsorship. So our portfolio is pretty significant. We do always consider whether partnerships with individual golfers and athletes would be something we’re considering, but there’s nothing significant that I could share with you now, because I think we’re very much tournament focused. And when you’re tournament focused, you get to host the best players in the world. And again, the leaderboard that we saw today was one of the best. We had eight of the world’s top 10 golfers here with us this year. Last year, I think it was 14 or 15. At the Invitational last year it was 10 out of 10 of the world’s top golfers, and again, similar to that this year. So our events are attracting the best golfers. And then of course, you would have a really challenging decision, which golfer would you work with and everything else. So yeah, watch this space.
Golf Post: You mentioned your big investment into different globally important golf tournaments. There’s obviously a couple of tournaments left, the really big ones like the majors and the Ryder Cup. Is it something you might look into in the future? There are other competitors involved in those tournaments. Is there a master plan to also be involved in the very top level of golf?
Graeme Russell: I probably can’t give you an answer on that just now. I think I’ll go back to this very prestigious portfolio. And it would be very difficult to go beyond this. With the majors, I believe you are able to have title sponsorship, like official automotive partner. I think in the future, we may well consider it always. I think as one of the leading partners and supporters and sponsors of global golf, I’m sure if opportunities do come up, people will come to us with and present these opportunities to us. And as always, we would do our due diligence and understand if it’s the right fit for the brand. But at present, it would be difficult to top the portfolio that we’ve got. And as we just mentioned, you know, with the caliber of the winners, the caliber of the fields we’re attracting, I think we’re in a pretty good place right now.
Golf Post: So in the end, it’s about selling cars. You have some of the cars here promoted at the tournament. When you plan your marketing strategy, the branding strategy do you also think about the events where you will promote the cars and do you include the golf tournaments as an important element in your schedule for promoting new cars and product launches?
Graeme Russell: Yeah, absolutely. As I mentioned, we have the two sets of objective, the players and the caddies, the bands, the customers etc. And then obviously the marketing objectives. When ultimately our job is depending on which market we’re in whether Genesis has had a more established presence like in the United States, it’s a combination of using the golf event, the Genesis Invitational, as a platform for looking after our existing customers, some of our longest standing customers, also our dealer partners or investors, so it’s very much the hospitality element plays a part there. Then, of course, on the course we want to raise awareness so we have wonderful facilities at the 14th hole at Riviera (golf course which hosts the Genesis Invitational). We have a Genesis interactive experience. We have product displays, we have simulated golf, we have hospitality, Korean snacks. And of course, then the branding element is for that wider reach. So the significant prestigious golf tournament allows you to activate in many ways. And whereas here for example, in Europe, this is an interesting one to talk about, particularly because it’s co-sanctioned for the DP World Tour and formerly known as the European Tour that allows us to raise awareness of the Genesis brand into Europe and markets.
We’re in the UK of course which is hosting the tournament here in Scotland. In Germany, of course, there’s a growing golf market where we have other partnerships and activities. But then the other benefit, of course, is that broadcasting is all going back to the United States. So you really must feel that here in Europe, this is about introducing the brand presenting the Genesis brand, whereas for America, it is about awareness. But it’s also about perhaps a deeper relationship with our existing customers. So our organization’s commitment and our significant investment. Also, we were able to realize that value and the return on that in many different ways. So there are nuances, there’s different structures and opportunities. And that’s why Golf is a really, really valuable platform.
Golf Post: If you look down the line and let’s say in five years, what would you think a golf tournament needs to be set up and what kind of activities would need to be there? For example, different virtual hybrid strategies for an event. What would be your dream event in five years?
Graeme Russell: Very good question. I think, the game of golf is definitely evolving. If you look at the stats around the world, on the course, golf participation, those who playe nine holes or 18 holes, is growing. It’s becoming a more diverse sport with younger participants, more female participation, and more diversity. But also the off course golf is growing. So driving ranges, simulator golf, Top Golf, for example. We’re very optimistic about the future of golf. And I think also the way golf is played is changing. Golf is back to the whole new generation. And the way that golf is covered by the media has also changed. And I think there was a clear opportunity for technology, which I mentioned is one of our key pillars alongside design and hospitality, to really start to play a greater role in the experience that we create. For those who are, you know, participating in playing, or those who are watching and spectating golf, I really believe technology can enhance that, whether it’s on the TV screen, or whether we start to get into a place where you can be watching golf in person. But having that experience enhanced by your mobile device, or something else, I think goes a long way for technology to enhance the overall experience, and for Genesis that is really what we ultimately look to do we ultimately believe we want to use design technology and hospitality to create original experiences for our guests, for our customers and our future customers. So technology, and the way golf is covered, the way golf is broadcasted, these are all clear opportunities for the way we believe we can take our tournament portfolio and make it even better. We’ve had two years here today. It feels like how could we make this better, but we’ve got plenty of ideas. And I think working closely with yourselves and other media partners, I think we should take on that commitment to how we can enhance golf as a sport, whether you’re playing it, watching it, following, etc.
Golf Post: You set some pretty high standards this year. So you have big benchmarks to hit next year.
Graeme Russell: We do and we do. But the good news is, this is year two of this tournament. It’s year seven of the Invitational, year seven of the Genesis championship. And, you know, we still see we have great partners in all these events. We’re always looking at how we can find those improvements. Whether it’s 1% kind of marginal gains or fine tuning or whether the game fundamentally evolves into really interesting direction, then I think we’ll be there as a committed partner, and very much positive aspirations for how Genesis can continue to support the game and sport of golf, whether it’s in the United States, in Europe or elsewhere around the world.
Golf Post: Fantastic. Thanks a lot for sharing all this information.
About Graeme Russell, Chief Brand Officer of Genesis
Graeme Russell is the Chief Brand Officer of Genesis. Russell is responsible for leading Genesis’s global brand, product and retail communications and ensuring an engaging brand experience across all customer touchpoints. With a wealth of experience in the luxury marketing and communications fields, including Global Head of Brand Communications for Bentley Motors and Brand Ambassador for The Macallan, Russell leads a division consisting of customer experience office and retail experience office, with a focus on differentiated brand communications with customers.
Thomas Müller in particular should be extremely pleased about the spectacular transfer of English superstar Harry Kane to FC Bayern. Müller, who is known for his passion for golf, will probably not only provide the perfect templates for the new star striker on the football field in the near future, but will probably also enjoy one or two rounds of golf together with him. With the signing of Harry Kane, FC Bayern has not only gained one of the most outstanding goal scorers of the last ten years, but also brought a virtuoso golfer into the team. With a handicap of 0, Kane even puts the experienced golfer Müller in the shade.
Kane first ventured onto the golf course at the age of six or seven, but his involvement at that time remained rather modest. The true passion for golf only ignited in Kane at the age of 17 or 18. During one summer, he deliberately refrained from travelling and instead devoted himself to golf every day for five weeks. During this period, his handicap dropped from 18 to about 10, and from then on, his enthusiasm for the sport grew inexorably year by year. He began to follow golf on television, with Tiger Woods in particular inspiring him.
Nowadays, Harry Kane presents himself with an impressive handicap of zero. As a member of Wentworth Golf Club as well as Beaverbrook Golf Club in Surrey, he has made two renowned golf courses his sporting home. During his time at Tottenham Hotspurs, he often played with teammate Eric Dier. Now in Munich, he has probably already found a new playing partner in Thomas Müller, who will keep him company on the golf course. Since Müller is also a regular guest at the Pro-Am of the BMW International Open, fans may soon be able to admire Harry Kane’s golf game at the Munich-Eichenried Golf Club.
Golfing with Tiger Woods not a dream for Harry Kane
Harry Kane has already experienced several things in his golf career that remain a lifelong dream for most golfers. In 2017, the Englishman had the honour of playing four holes with golf legend Tiger Woods in the Bahamas, an experience he still looks back on with great pleasure. The list of golf courses on which the striker has already played reads like a poem: Augusta National, St. Andrews Old Course, Kingsbarns, Loch Lomond and many more. So it’s no wonder that golf has become a real passion for Kane.
Kane is well aware of his strengths on the golf course. The 1.88 metre tall attacker cites long tee shots as his greatest weapon and estimates that he can keep up with many professionals in this respect. But power is not his only expertise – his precise short game, especially when chipping, is testament to his remarkable talent. Striving for consistent performance on the golf course is a major driving force for Kane. But unlike on the football pitch, performance and perfection are not the only things that count for the 30-year-old when it comes to golf. For him, it is a way to enjoy the moment, switch off and leave the stress of everyday life behind. While he is on the golf course, he can focus on having a good time without the pressure he might feel on the football field.
In a golf challenge, Harry Kane has even taken on Tommy Fleetwood. A good opportunity to watch the new Bavarian play golf.
According to new research undertaken by the governing body, there are now 39.6 million on-course golfers (9 and 18 hole) in R&A affiliated markets. The research figures indicate that the growth trend began before the onset of Covid-19 and continued during the pandemic – up 34% from 29.6 million on-course golfers in 2016. The sport has since continued to increase in popularity post-pandemic, up 15% from 34.5 million on-course players in 2020.
Global Golf Participation Report
The data is provided in a new Global Golf Participation Report, which, for the first time, collectively measures The R&A’s affiliated markets in Asia, Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Oceania.
The report also highlights that 61.2 million adults (outside the USA and Mexico) engage with the sport in some format, which is the first time an estimate has been made beyond on-course activity to include alternative-only formats, such as par-3 golf, indoor simulator golf and driving range use.
Phil Anderton, Chief Development Officer at The R&A, said, “Golf’s popularity has surged in recent years, which is reflected in a notable increase in the number of people playing the sport in both traditional on-course and alternative formats.
“It is significant that ten million more golfers are playing on the course since 2016, but it is also important that millions of others are engaged in golf through many other alternative formats, such as driving ranges, which are so vital to the growth of the sport.”
“It also underlines why effective and impactful participation programmes are important for encouraging more people into the sport and retaining them in greater numbers. We are working closely with our affiliated national federations and stakeholders within golf to sustain this momentum. We thank them for their efforts as we aim to ensure that golf is thriving for years to come.”
The top five on-course adult golfer markets
The top five on-course adult golfer markets overall in 2023 are in Japan (8.1 million), Canada (5.6 million), Republic of Korea (5.4 million), England (3.4 million) and Germany (2.1 million).
Asia is the leading region for people engaging with golf among R&A affiliated regions, with total adult engagement of 22.5 million. Europe is next highest with 21.1 million adult engagement.
Women make up almost a quarter of adult registered golfers in R&A affiliated markets worldwide, demonstrating the positive impact of initiatives focused on promoting greater diversity and inclusivity in golf.
The R&A is continuing its commitment to invest £200 million over ten years in developing golf, including sustained work to encourage participation by promoting the health benefits of the sport through a global campaign.
Links golf courses exude a fascination for me that has stayed with me ever since I first got to know them. Now the time has finally come to travel to the country where our passion originated. As there is no direct flight to Aberdeen, we first take the plane to Edinburgh. From here we take a rental car and drive relaxed on the well-developed motorway with a maximum of 70 miles to the north-east of the country.
The region of Aberdeenshire is slightly larger than Muensterland in Germany and has about 250,000 inhabitants. There are about fifty golf courses. We will concentrate on three top courses during our one-week tour, because we want to get to know as many highlights of the region as possible in addition to golfing.
Manor house from 1225
As our first accommodation we choose the picturesque situated Maryculter House Hotel, which lies a little southwest of Aberdeen, towards Royal Deeside. The River Dee, which flows into the North Sea in Aberdeen Harbour, runs directly past it.
The manor house has its origins in the 13th century. It is a former domicile of the Knights of the Order of the Temple, stylishly furnished and with wooden panelling and beamed ceilings. The Knights’ Hall and the bar invite you to linger. Our Classic River View room in traditional style is comfortably furnished and offers a great view of the Peterculter Golf Club on the other side of the river.
After a delicious breakfast with fruit, yoghurt, porridge and scrambled eggs with Scottish salmon, we explore the west and south of the region.
We drive through the scenically impressive Cairngorms National Park with its heather-covered plateaus, numerous raised bogs and forests. We make our first stop in the pretty village of Ballater.
God save the Queen and the King
We continue to the most famous castle in the region, Balmoral Castle. It is the summer residence of the British royal family. Elizabeth II stayed here between August and October, where she also died in September 2022. In the only room open to visitors, the ballroom, exhibits and photos of the royals are on display.
Actually we want to visit the nearby Braemar Castle, but unfortunately it is closed for renovation. So we drive south-east to Lochton & Leys Farm. Here we meet about 250 specimens of the typical Highland beef breed with their distinctive pony and learn interesting facts about the animals and their breeding from the owner.
We continue to the coast to Stonehaven, a worthwhile little town with a beautiful long beach and a typical small fishing harbour.
Nearby, the most sought-after photo motif in Aberdeenshire is enthroned on the cliffs. Surrounded on three sides by water, the ruins of Dunnottar Castle captivate thousands of visitors every year. We can understand why and can’t get enough of it.
Eighth-oldest golf course in the world
Then, finally, golf is on the agenda. The Aberdeen Golf Club was founded in 1780 and is a links as it is written in the book. From the venerable clubhouse with its impressive ancestral gallery, the members enjoy their food and drinks directly in front of the first tee of the championship Balgownie Course, which also hosted the Scottish Open 2014.
Separated only by the thin pane of glass, we are not impressed by this and play our drives towards the sea. In front of us are several ships waiting to enter Aberdeen Harbour.
Together with the numerous wind turbines in the North Sea, they form the typical backdrop for the course. From the second hole, the front nine runs through the hilly dune landscape directly along the sea, whose holes are considered by many to be among the most beautiful of their kind. It leads to the furthest point of the course away from the clubhouse and back from there slightly above it in parallel. The ten bunkers on the eight have a magical attraction.
While the narrow fairways and the rough on the front nine make life difficult for us, on the back nine it is the mercilessly head-on wind. Although I follow the recommendation of the starter and tee off from red, I am on the verge of giving up. But I hold out until the end and, although I am completely exhausted, I am highly satisfied with this unique golfing experience.
This is not changed by the fact that I end up in the huge bunker on the 18th below the clubhouse and have trouble getting out of it.
Murcar Links Golf Club
The next day we get to know another great old-fashioned links, the Murcar Links, founded in 1909. It borders directly on the Royal Aberdeen at its southern end and is only separated from it by a low fence. Here we can clearly see that climate change has also arrived in Scotland. The drought of the past few weeks has resulted in the fairways being an unusual colour and hard as nails, but still very playable.
The great holes run through the dunes, some right along the sea. Seven is the signature hole and is not called ‘Serpentine’ for a reason.
The course is sportingly challenging and provides us with a wonderful day of golf in the best weather
Several national amateur championships and international professional tournaments have already been held here.
Seals within reach
After the round we head north. After a short while we come to Newburgh, where the Seals sign catches our eye. We pass the entrance to Forvie National Nature Reserve, whose car park is right next to Newburgh-on-Ythan Golf Club.
We take the short path through the dunes to the mouth of the River Ythan. In the completely deserted bay, we then see black moving dots in the water, which get bigger and bigger as we get closer. Numerous seals are enjoying themselves here and wonder about the strange figures on the beach. We have the impression that they notice us, but do not feel threatened in any way.
Castles like something out of a picture book
Castles worth seeing, such as Fraser, Fyvie, Crathes, Craigievar and Huntly are located on the Castle Trail, along which a total of 19 castles or their ruins can be found. Each one is different and impressive in its own way.
Breathtaking and unique
The conclusion of our great links trio is the championship course of Cruden Bay Golf Club, which opened in 1899. Unlike the other two courses, the front and back nine do not run parallel away and back, but in two loops, partly through the huge, high dune landscape.
The warm welcome culture alone impresses us. The original mention by name on the guest board and also the guest gift in the shape and size of a pack of balls delights us. When we want to bring them into play on the round, we can’t help smiling.
Only now do we realise that it is not balls, but a small bottle of Specially Selected Single Malt Scotch Whisky. We are happy to say Sláinte Mhath and enjoy the 12-year-old dram.
After that, we swing more loosely, which is necessary on the unusual holes 3-15. Each is an experience in itself. Among our favourites are the 8-10. The eight, a short par 4, has to be played uphill into the high green surrounded by huge dunes.
It continues steeply uphill to the highest point of the course, from where we have a fantastic view of one side of the course and the completely deserted bay.
The ruins of Slain Castle tower in the background. You can’t get more Scottish than that.
Turning around, we look from the tee of the nine across the other side of the course, also along the bay. The tee shot has to be played downhill over a deep ravine.
The ten is also a challenge. Here it’s hit and hope, because the landing zone of the tee shot deep below us is not visible. We wish each other good luck, sip the rest of the bottle once more and are glad to find the balls on the fairway after the descent. As a reward, the sun comes out and accompanies us back to the clubhouse.
But before that, we have to play the tee shot of the 15 from a mini-tee box above the low-lying green of the 14 blind through a narrow ravine. But only after the traffic lights have turned green.
Everything is just right here. The course offers a sporting challenge, a lot of fun and a unique links experience with incredible views. Top100 Golf Courses ranks it 67th in the world, just like the Royal Aberdeen (63rd).
From our second domicile, the stylish Chester Hotel, we reach the three golf courses in less than half an hour. The listed original building dates back to the 19th century and now combines traditional style with super-modern design. Our spacious, chic Grand Room offers ample space and a private terrace. Ample parking is available.
The great breakfast is topped by the excellent dinner offer. My salmon tartare and steak from the local Angus beef melted in my mouth. The Malbec red wine and the subsequent whisky nightcap in the cool bar round off a wonderful evening.
The next day we take a look around Aberdeen. We are particularly impressed by the modern Art Gallery, Provost Skene’s House and the buildings of Kings College and Aberdeen University in Old Aberdeen.
Since the weather gods continue to be kind to us, we also go to the beach. We haven’t had to use our rain gear all week and the thermometer even rises to 30 degrees Celsius.
At the end of the Esplanade, we reach the former fishing village of Footdee, which lies directly at the entrance and exit of Aberdeen Harbour. The original small fishing cottages have been lovingly restored by the current owners and now attract many tourists.
At the far end of the harbour pier is the popular seafood restaurant Silver Darling. Here, on the last evening of our trip, we enjoy the sunset not only with delicious oysters, mussels and freshly caught fish, but also watch the passing of the incoming and outgoing freighters with the same curiosity as the dolphins jumping in the bay.
The end of a wonderful trip to the north-east of Scotland could not be more beautiful.
What do you do when things at work get stressful? I have my own method: There’s always a golf ball in my blazer pocket. If the stress level rises, I put my hand in my pocket, turn the ball between my fingers, close my eyes for a moment and stand on the golf course. That’s the in-between method. The real knockout against deadline pressure and heart palpitations comes after the working day ends. That’s when I get into the car and drive out to WINSTONgolf. At least once a week, and preferably every day. I park the car and switch off daily life when I stop the engine. Time for my passion; golf. I’ve been playing since childhood and I know a few courses. But nowhere is like here. Let’s visit it together. Then I’ll show you why.
The Driving Range: How I begin the game
At work I need to be forward-looking. On the driving range, I just look at my ball and am pleased with how well and far it flies. Most of the time, anyway. Here I always experience this wonderful mixture of sporting ambition when teeing off, and contemplation amidst the peace and vastness of the landscape all around me.
Today the sun is shining, but I really like to be here in any weather. And now imagine the “clack” of your ball as it takes a wonderful trajectory, and a second ball flies alongside behind it, hit much further and more professionally. You look to see who it was. And suddenly there he is – Bernhard Langer. That’s more or less how I experienced it during the WINSTONgolf Senior Open, where golf legends from all over the world tee off together. But there’s also an opportunity to meet Bernhard Langer here. He has been a WINSTONgolf brand ambassador for many years. And by the way, so has Johannes Veerman. You know him, the likeable player of the DP World Tour. Although I haven’t met him yet.
WINSTONlinks: My “outgrowing myself” course
Are you fit for the next round? Then up onto WINSTONlinks and into a real challenge. I must admit it: I failed miserably when I played the course for the first time. Driving into the wind, missing the fairway on the first tee shot, and off into a bunker. But I still felt like a winner. Because this course is also an experience for the eye: Wind-whipped dunes with gorse and sea buckthorn curve up to ten metres high into the distance. Deep sand traps in between, as if from volcanoes. And a buzzard soars in the skies above me. Cranes have also been watching. Maybe they would applaud me if they could. Because by now I’m really good and have mastered this course designed for professionals. No wonder champions love it, and they’ll be spending time on it during the Legends Tour in September. If you’re here for the first time or the next time – go ahead and take its challenge. You’ll find it worthwhile.
Do you love a change as much I do? Then the WINSTONopen course will inspire just as much as WINSTONlinks. Classic, challenging, with well-guarded greens and putting characteristics at their very best. A real championship course. And the view across a masterpiece of nature is included free of charge.
The quality of the courses is also a masterpiece. As if the greens were pure velvet. It feels great and plays that way too. This carries on through to the WINSTONkranich par 3 course, where I like to hone my short game. It’s a great place to warm up in before playing some really serious golf. Like on the WINSTONlinks, which I’m playing right now – in a happy mood to send the ball straight into the 18th hole.
We made it! And only 5 over par. I really must congratulate myself. Of course, it’s nicer when praise comes from someone else. From my friends, for example, who sometimes accompany me. Or from people I meet by chance on the course, and who love golf as much as I do. They come here from all over, and have a wide variety of tastes. But they are all the same in one respect: they are all relaxed. Especially after a successful round. Or after a good meal. Speaking of which: are you hungry? Then follow me to the clubhouse.
The golfing clubhouse: Open Sesame
Off the green and into enjoyment. Although in fact everything here is green. The people here are highly environmentally conscious. Exactly my wavelength. My car, for example, recharges at the e-charging station in front, I scarcely see any plastic, and my mouth waters when I think of my burger with organic meat from Jersey beef directly from the region.
Hello golf clubhouse! Did you ever see such an entrance door? So red and so big, but without making me feel small. And the automatic Open Sesame. The only thing missing is a red carpet. They wave at me from reception and I wave back. We know each other, and I feel at home. Slow down. The hustle and bustle are far away. I’m not surprised that WINSTONgolf has already carried off so many prizes. Certificate here, certificate there. “Golf Post Community Award 2023 – Number 1 in the ‘Course Condition’ category”, and alongside them various first places in different rankings. I feel it’s all in very good taste. Incidentally, also in the choice of my favourite restaurant – the RESTAURANTkranichhaus in the clubhouse.
A relaxed community
The sun patio is especially popular again today. At least one seat is still free, although there are already three guests sitting at the table. Maybe they were waiting for someone just like me. And lo and behold, I win a triple smile. The trio is from Cologne. A man around 40, well-tanned, chin beard; a woman, similar age, freckled and sympathetic; the woman’s sister, blond plait that wiggles amusingly when she talks. Cheerful Rhineland folk who are up here for the first time, and rave about the romantic wilderness of the north every bit as much as about the WINSTONgolf courses. The husband says they’ve already played them all several times, you can’t tear yourself away from the course, and there’s still so much to discover in Mecklenburg. His wife adds that this is true, and fortunately she, who doesn’t play golf at all, has plenty of time to explore. Her sister, like me, loves variety. The tension of the game during the day and relaxation in the evening.
They have two rooms at Kaarz Castle. Each room has its own style there, and the sister would love to move into a different one every day. And the park with redwood trees – a dream.
I tell the trio that I often forget time there at weekends, and that there’s a similarly beautiful place right next to the golf course: VORBECK MANOR, WINSTONgolf’s golfing hotel. With a fireplace in the foyer, the rippling river Warnow outside the window and a charming little café called HerzensGUT, which has the most delicious cakes just like my grandmother used to bake.
The woman with the freckles says she knows right away where she’s going tomorrow. Meanwhile, the man lets his gaze wander over the WINSTONopen course in the evening light, watching the last flights coming down the eighteenth hole, and seems to be working up an appetite for tomorrow.
The RESTAURANTkranichhaus: Meets my taste entirely
But for a moment, the delicious evening meal satisfies our appetite. Our table turns into a burger paradise: pulled beef with smoked bacon twice here, ground beef with bacon jam there, and black bean patty with cashew sauce over there. Simply delicious! The 3 Rhinelanders are also delightful, with their well-balanced holiday spirits. Talking about golf or putting the world to rights, we chat a while longer. I often meet people like that here. They simply make time stand still here, enjoy the moment and forget about tomorrow. Just like me. My everyday life seems far away, as if on another planet. Back to work the next day? Never mind. WINSTONgolf is not far away. And just in case, I always have my golf ball in my blazer.
Want to enjoy some time off at WINSTONgolf? Book now!
Following her tie for 20th at the 2023 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, Jin Young Ko remains at No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings for the 159th week in her career. Ko has now outlasted Lorena Ochoa’s record of 158 weeks at Rolex Rankings No. 1, which Ochoa held consecutively from April 2007 to May 2010.
Ko has held the No. 1 position five different times since April 2019. With her sixth consecutive week since May 2023, she now sits on top of the record list ahead of notable names including Lydia Ko (125 weeks), Yani Tseng (109 weeks), Inbee Park (106 weeks) and Annika Sorenstam (61 weeks).
Weeks at No. 1
Jin Young Ko
Sung Hyun Park
So Yeon Ryu
Jin Young Ko only one of five Koreans at the top of the world rankings
At 27 years old, Ko has the most career weeks at Rolex Rankings No. 1 by a player from the Republic of Korea. She is one of five Korean players to hold the No. 1 position, alongside Inbee Park (106 weeks), Jiyai Shin (25 weeks), Sung Hyun Park (20 weeks) and So Yeon Ryu (19 weeks).
“It’s an honor people saying with Lorena and me in the same sentence. It makes me happy, but also it makes me humble,” said Ko, who has had Ochoa’s long-time caddie Dave Brooker on her bag for most of her time at Rolex Rankings No. 1. “It’s great to honor, to stand with Lorena.”
In 2023, Ko has claimed victories at the HSBC Women’s World Championship and the Cognizant Founders Cup. In addition, she has four top-15 finishes this year, most recently at the inaugural Mizuho Americas Open, and represented the Republic of Korea in this year’s Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown.
She currently ranks third in greens in regulation (75%), fifth in scoring average (69.34) and sixth in birdies (140) on the LPGA Tour for the 2023 season. In addition to being the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings No. 1, she also sits on top of the leaderboard in the Race to the CME Globe, an honor she previously won in 2020 and 2021.
Jin Young Ko’s achievements
A 15-time champion on the LPGA Tour, Ko has captured major titles at The Chevron Championship and Amundi Evian Championship in 2019. Just a year prior, she became a Rolex First-Time Winner at the 2018 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in her first event as an LPGA Tour member. Before her career on the LPGA Tour, she won 10 times on the KLPGA Tour and won the LPGA Tour’s 2017 LPGA KEB-Hana Bank Championship as a non-member.
Ko won Rolex Player of the Year in honors in 2019 and 2021 and was the 2018 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year. In 2019, she won the Vare Trophy, which is given to the player with the season’s lowest scoring average. That same year, she also won the Rolex ANNIKA Major Award, which is given to the player with the season’s best overall performance in major championships.
Women’s 13-piece and eight-piece club sets and seven-piece and five-piece junior girls club sets are now available for purchase in more than 1,200 Walmart stores and online at Walmart.com. All club sets include an LPGA-branded golf bag. Women’s club sets start at $199, and junior club sets start at $98.
“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity”
Complementing the club sets, LPGA-branded apparel items, including polos, skorts, a dress and visor are also now available in select stores and on Walmart.com — providing women and girls even more accessible, stylish options to wear on and off the course. Spikeless golf shoes in both women’s and girl’s sizes round out the collection.
“These fantastic new items will make it more accessible for women and girls to play golf and enjoy the sport,” said Corey Bender, senior vice president of hardlines – Walmart U.S. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the LPGA and I’m excited to get these products in the hands of our customers as golf season gets in full swing.”
The LPGA has been a longtime supporter of programs and initiatives for female beginners and juniors. Over its more than 30-year history, LPGA*USGA Girls Golf (Girls Golf), a partnership between the LPGA Foundation and the United States Golf Association (USGA), introduces girls ages 6-17 to the game of golf, empowering them with confidence, friendships and life skills. Today, more than 500 Girls Golf sites across the country run programs that impact more than 100,000 young women each year. The LPGA Professionals, the largest membership of women golf teaching Professionals in the world, help support the LPGA Foundation’s various grassroots programs aimed at increasing the engagement of girls and women in golf and serve as industry leaders in diversity, equity and inclusion. Additionally, the LPGA Amateurs program offers organized playing and learning opportunities for adults of all abilities through local and association-wide events.
“This incredible partnership with Walmart builds upon our organization’s commitment to empowering, inspiring, and transforming the lives of girls and women through the game of golf,” said Matt Chmura, LPGA Chief Marketing, Communications and Brand Officer. “We know that women comprise about a quarter of all golfers in the U.S.— and we also know there’s an opportunity to improve that ratio. By providing affordable, entry-level golf equipment, we look forward to helping even more women and girls experience the lifelong benefits of this great game.”
Heading to Oak Hill Country Club in good form following four PGA Tour wins in 2023, including The Masters at Augusta National in April, the Spaniard will once again be wearing a custom-painted pair of The Ringer golf shoes.
The shoe will be in a different colourway to the bespoke custom design white and green pair he wore at Augusta, with this week’s white design detailed with a blue and gold colour combination that pays homage to the PGA Championship logo and the word ‘Vamos’ along the outside of shoe, in reference to his “Vamos Rahmbo” tagline.
As part of his partnership with TRAVISMATHEW, Rahm will be wearing the custom Ringer shoes at Oak Hill this week as he looks to join an illustrious group of players to have won three major championships – with his first two arriving since partnering with TRAVISMATHEW in 2021, which has coincided with his rise to world number one.
Rahm sees the shoes as a gamechanger
Rahm said: “I think the game changer is the shoes I am wearing. They are a lot more comfortable. I have done some great work with the Cuater and TRAVISMATHEW team and I think it has allowed me to be a little bit more stable and up my ball speed and swing speed without being concerned. I can keep that speed up from the first tee shot on Thursday to the last one on Sunday a little bit more consistently.”
TRAVISMATHEW’s premium Cuater performance golf shoe, The Ringer delivers ultimate comfort with lightweight support, breathability, and moisture management in an attractive, waterproof style. The shoes come with layers of moulded foam for ultimate comfort to give golfers the most secure and responsive fit on the market.
Several other top professional golfers also wear Cuater footwear, including Ryder Cup hopeful Sam Burns. The five-time PGA Tour winner will be hoping to continue US dominance at the PGA Championship this week by becoming his country’s eighth consecutive winner of the tournament. In celebration of the PGA Championship, TRAVISMATHEW is running a Cuater promotion, with anyone purchasing a pair of Cuater shoes gifted a free pair of Cuater socks.