Just days after members of the common council of an English city announced they’re fully behind a bid to bring the world-renowned Ryder Cup golf tournament to the borough, one of the European stars from the most recent biennial event has announced he’s also a supporter.
A bid is currently underway to host the historic competition at the major Hulton Park development in 2035 as the current tournament gets underway in Rome.
The proposal to build a luxury golf course and more than 1,000 houses had sparked major controversy but the authority says it believes hosting such a high-profile competition there could be hugely beneficial.
Deputy leader Akhtar Zaman said: “We are fully behind the bid to host the Ryder Cup in 2035.
“The argument has of course been going since 2018 and while we fully understand the concerns of local residents we think that now is the time to back this proposal.”
He added: “First of all there are the benefits of the tournament itself, with 75,000 visitors per day and all the benefits that will bring to the hospitality industry.”
On Tuesday, Tommy Fleetwood announced that he, too, is behind the proposal.
“I’ve studied the proposals for Hulton closely and seen the site for myself – it is an amazing landscape and the prospect of a purpose-built stadium course here would be fantastic for everyone concerned – for golf, for the tournament and for the game in England,” Fleetwood said on his official Instagram account.
“But perhaps more importantly, I love what this proposal offers to my corner of the country. I can see that it would inspire more people in the North West to take up the game and for those who don’t play golf, it will also bringing jobs, investment and tourism to the region and open up a huge new green space for the community.”
Fleetwood, who went 3-1 in the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone, grew up about 30 miles from the site. The Hulton site is also about 20 miles from the birthplace of Samuel Ryder, the namesake of the event.
Zaman said that the tournament could also prove beneficial to the borough’s global prestige and economy for years to come.
“We know that events like Ironman and the Food and Drink Festival have already brought a lot of recognition to Bolton,” he said. “I think that the Ryder Cup will really put Bolton on the world stage, it will bring over 1,000 jobs and there are the 1,000 homes which will really help with our housing shortage.”
The plans to build the Hulton Park development, capable of hosting the Ryder Cup, had been through a long and contentious process before eventually being given the green light.
The historic biennial competition is currently underway in Italy and developers Peel L&P had originally hoped Bolton’s bid would be made in either 2031 or 2035.
Planning director Richard Knight says the company needs more time to complete the project and so it’s now targeting 2035.
Speaking to BBC Radio Manchester, he said: “The delay that we’ve had means that we’re now looking at 35, I think 31 would be a bit tight for us to build a new venue and clearly, we don’t want to rush a project such as this.”
The plan includes an 18-hole championship golf course with other facilities and more than 1,000 new houses in the Over Hulton area. Bolton Council planning committee members had voted almost unanimously to reject the bid at a special meeting held in February 2022. They cited concerns about the environment and effects on traffic and after campaigns by community groups like Hulton Estate Area Residents Together.
But since then, developers Peel L&P appealed against this refusal and a government planning inspector sharply criticized the planning committee’s decision.
In a scathing report published after a two-day inquiry held last October, inspector Dominic Young described the refusal decision as “unreasonable, irrational and injudicious to the extent that no reasonable authority would have made it.”
Inspectors ordered Bolton Council to pay just almost $500,000 in costs to the developers to cover the cost of the appeal, despite Peel L&P not having made any such request.
This sum of money was worth the equivalent of around $25,000 for every ward in Bolton.
But the council leadership has said previously that these costs could have been even higher if they had not held negotiations with the company.
The original figure is believed to have been in the region of around $750,000.
Joe Harrigan is a reporter for the Bolton News, part of Newsquest, which is owned by Gannett. Golfweek added reporting to this post.