On the back of a memorable 146th
Open Championship, Royal Birkdale Golf Club will be adding to its impressive
armoury of golfing events by playing host to the prestigious Simpson Cup, which
will be staged at the Southport course from 24-27th September 2017.
The annual competition, now in its sixth
edition since the inaugural event at TPC Sawgrass in 2012, pits 13 injured servicemen
and veterans from the United States against their British counterparts in a
Ryder Cup-style tournament that raises funds and awareness for the On Course
Foundation - a charitable organisation
which is registered in both the USA and the UK.
All competitors involved are members of the
Foundation, which helps men and women who were injured, sick or wounded in the
line of duty rebuild their lives; both through being given the opportunity to
play the game, and attaining employment in the golf industry. The Foundation
also has Patrons which include the Duke of York, and formerly the late Arnold
Palmer, who won the Claret Jug at Birkdale in 1961.
The Simpson Cup is the marquee event for
the charity, and, in addition to Sawgrass, has graced esteemed golf courses
such as Royal Lytham & St Annes (2013), Congressional Country Club (2014),
Royal St George’s Golf Club (2015) and Oak Hill Country Club (2016). Team USA
will arrive at Royal Birkdale as the defending champions, having lured the Cup
away from Great Britain at Oak Hill last year in a thrilling match. It added to
Team USA’s previous triumph in 2014 at Congressional, although it is the Brits
who hold the overall lead with wins at Sawgrass, Lytham and Royal St George’s.
The tournament is named after its founder,
John Simpson, former Senior Vice-President of International Management Group
(IMG). Simpson, who himself only has one fully-functioning leg as a result of
suffering polio as a child, is also the Chairman and Founder of the On Course
Foundation, and has managed players such as Sir Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Vijay
Singh and Bernhard Langer. And for Simpson, the opportunity to see this event
grace a course as esteemed as Birkdale represents a significant coup.
“I am truly humbled that the Simpson Cup
will be taking place at such an historic and glorious course,” Simpson
commented. “The recent Open Championship is still fresh in our minds, and
Birkdale raised the bar, drawing in record crowds, and attracting widespread
acclaim for its superb layout.”
He continued: “Each year we’ve seen the
most moving and inspiring stories emerge at the Simpson Cup. I’m very much
looking forward to seeing what the class of 2017 has in store for us, and it
will be a privilege to watch these guys put on another terrific spectacle at
this, one of my favourite golfing venues in the world.
“The competition, and the events leading up
to it, encapsulate what the On Course Foundation is all about, and giving these
incredible veterans the opportunity to shape their futures, both in terms of
playing golf and building a sustainable career, is the very least they
The 128-year old Royal Birkdale Golf Club
has hosted the Open on 10 occasions, along with the Women’s and Senior Opens.
It has also played host to the Walker and Curtis Cups, although it is arguably
its second staging of the Ryder Cup in 1969 which evokes the most vivid
memories, when Jack Nicklaus famously conceded a short putt to Tony Jacklin to
halve both theirs and the overall match. It is that spirit which the Simpson
Cup epitomises, and despite it being a fiercely competitive contest between the
two sides – each of which boasts a professional (amputee) golfer among their
ranks – the levels of camaraderie and friendship continue to endure.
“We have been closely involved with the Foundation since 2012, and were delighted to offer John the opportunity to host the Simpson Cup in the same year that we hosted The Open,” said Michael Burns, Captain of The Royal Birkdale Golf Club. “Aside from the heroic performances on display from the players, this tournament offers something so profound and inspiring, and it is truly a great honour for us to be a part of the fantastic work the On Course Foundation is doing.”
The Simpson Cup commences on the evening of
Sunday 24th September with the Opening Ceremony and subsequent
fundraising dinner at the Royal Birkdale clubhouse. The following day sees the
player/sponsors’ competition taking place, before the tournament then begins in
earnest on the morning of Tuesday 26th September with six four-ball
matches (two against two, better ball) at the famous old links.
then concludes on the Wednesday morning with 12 singles matches – again at
Proceedings will be rounded off later that day
with the Cup being presented to the winning team, before the Closing Ceremony
brings the curtain down on what will undoubtedly be a memorable week for all