Following the huge success of the 2015 British Masters supported by Sky Sports on its return to The Race to Dubai after a gap of seven years, Luke Donald has accepted The European Tour’s invitation to become the tournament host in 2016.
Donald, who succeeds fellow Englishman Ian Poulter in the role, has selected The Grove, in Hertfordshire, as the venue for next year’s tournament, which will take place from October 13-16, 2016.
It will be only the second time The Grove has held a European Tour event, having hosted a World Golf Championship tournament in 2006, which was won by Tiger Woods, with Poulter joint runner-up alongside Adam Scott, and Donald in a share sixth place.
“I’m very delighted to say we are going to The Grove, which of course hosted a WGC back in 2006, said Donald. “I was lucky enough to be able to play that event and I’m excited we are going back there. It is a world class facility, a great hotel and I think all the players will really enjoy playing the golf course.
“The Grove is a parkland course, and it has some elevation changes. It is always presented in great condition. It has a really nice variety of some longer holes, and some drivable par fours. I think it will also be a fun course for the spectators, so it will be a great venue for the 2016 British Masters supported by Sky Sports.”
Nearly 60,000 fans were part of the return of the British Masters at Woburn Golf Club, with supporting sponsor Sky Sports and The European Tour teaming up to provide innovative coverage aimed at engaging a new audience with the game. Fittingly, it was the youngest player in the field, 21 year old Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick, who lifted the trophy, while former European and World Number One Donald finished in a share of fifth position.
Donald’s last three European Tour victories have come on British soil, at the 2011 and 2012 BMW PGA Championship and the 2011 Scottish Open, and he is looking forward to building on the exemplary work of Poulter as tournament host.
“Ian did a fantastic job at Woburn,” said Donald. “It was nice to see this tournament come back and have some life. We had great crowds, great support and obviously a big thanks to Sky Sports for helping to make it a big success all round.
“We knew the British Masters would get great crowds. The British people love coming out and supporting their events and supporting the British players. It was a fun and successful week.
“Woburn was a tremendous venue and Ian did a brilliant job as the ambassador. It’s my turn next and I will be looking forward to coming back and hopefully having even more success and bringing even more people to this amazing tournament.”
Keith Pelley, The European Tour’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We were delighted with the success of the British Masters supported by Sky Sports on its return to The Race to Dubai, and in Luke Donald we have another terrific ambassador to take on the role of tournament host in 2016.
“Ian Poulter did such a wonderful job at Woburn, attracting outstanding crowds and working with The European Tour and Sky Sports to help engage a new audience, and we are very fortunate to have a former World Number One in Luke to now take on the baton at The Grove, which I am certain will be another magnificent venue for this prestigious tournament.”
Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports, said: “Everyone was delighted with the return of the British Masters with packed galleries, fantastic golf and the players behind our drive to attract new audiences. We can’t wait to start working with Luke Donald and The European Tour on next year’s event at The Grove and making it even better.”
Chris Andrews, Director of Ralph Trustees Limited, owners of The Grove, said: “We had the honour of hosting The European Tour back in 2006 and remember well how popular and accessible the event proved to be. We are delighted, ten years on, to have an opportunity to play our part in re-establishing the British Masters as a truly global event, as befits its heritage.
Michael Helling, General Manager of The Grove, added: “Kyle Phillips designed this course to be enjoyed by players and spectators alike and we, together with Luke Donald, look forward to welcoming you all next year.”
The Grove, which is located only 18 miles from the central London, opened in 2003 and has a luxury five star hotel and golf course set in 300 acres of Hertfordshire countryside.