The announcement of London Golf Club as the host for the 2014 Volvo World Match Play Championship marks a momentous milestone in the special relationship between the Kent venue and The European Tour.
The European Tour, in co-ordination with headline sponsors Volvo and event promoters IMG, this week confirmed that 50 years after the inaugural World Match Play Championship the tournament will return to English shores and fittingly to London Golf Club – the jewel in the crown of the European Tour Properties Network.
As part of its exclusive Joint Venture Partnership with The European Tour, the venue became the first Destination in the Tour’s network of world class venues in 2009 after successfully hosting the 2008 and 2009 European Opens – the latter attended by a staggering 90,000 fans as Frenchman Christian Cévaër triumphed on the Heritage Course.
Located on the south-eastern reaches of the capital and within touching distance of Canary Wharf and the city, London Golf Club has recently received planning permission to expand its operations to also include a five-star, 130-bedroomed hotel and luxurious spa development, a nine hole European Golf Design ‘introductory’ course and a European Tour Performance Institute with a new academy and state-of-the-art driving range - further testament along with this week’s announcement to the club’s growth over a fruitful five-year affiliation with The European Tour.
George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “We are delighted the Volvo World Match Play Championship is coming back to the UK, to England and, more specifically, to London Golf Club – a European Tour Destination.
“The two tournaments we have held at London Golf Club have been very successful with large crowds in attendance while the courses and their conditioning have always been rated very highly by our membership.
“Our return to London Golf Club is sure to be welcomed by players and spectators alike, and will set the scene for a thrilling build-up to the conclusion of the 2014 season.”
David MacLaren, The European Tour’s Director of Property and Venue Development, added: “Our relationship with London Golf Club over the last five years has become a very special one and one which has allowed us to work together on a number of different projects.
“This partnership in some ways has come of age with this week's announcement of the Volvo World Match Play Championship coming to the International Course and to me that is a truly important endorsement of the quality of the venue and the strength of the relationship between London Golf Club and The European Tour.
“The location, the presentation and agronomic quality of both courses and the management of the venue – proven by the success of the two European Opens held there – ensure that the 2014 Volvo World Match Play Championship will be staged to the highest possible standard.”
Long a fixture in the heathland of Wentworth in Surrey before moving to Finca Cortesin in Spain in 2009 and latterly Thracian Cliffs in Bulgaria, the Volvo World Match Play Championship also returns to its traditional autumnal berth in The European Tour International Schedule and the stunning downland International course at the London Golf Club in Kent, ‘The Garden of England’.
Charles Fairweather, Chairman of London Golf Club, said: “Hosting the Volvo World Match Play Championship will be a proud moment in the special relationship between London Golf Club and our partners at The European Tour.
“Just as we at London Golf Club have taken giant strides forward in the five years since becoming the first European Tour Destination, the club is also most proud to have been instrumental in helping build such a widely respected global brand in European Tour Properties.
“We look forward to a very bright future here at London Golf Club with our planned expansions including a five-star hotel and spa and a nine hole starter course alongside the first UK-based European Tour Performance Institute. We have every faith that the International Course will provide one of the best settings and most exciting Volvo World Match Play Championships to date.”
This year celebrating the 50th anniversary since the maiden championship, won by Arnold Palmer at Wentworth in 1964, the 2014 Championship will be held from October 15-19 and will revert to a 16-man field with a prize fund of US $3 million.
Austen Gravestock, Chief Executive of the London Golf Club, added: “2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the club and we can think of no more fitting way to celebrate than the hosting of the prestigious Volvo World Match Play Championship in October.
“Our partnership with the European Tour continues to blossom and as we progress with our plans to build the South East's leading leisure destination, staging this remarkable Championship provides the ideal platform.”
Set to be contested on the stunning International Course at London Golf Club, a layout offering plenty of risk and reward, London Golf Club will indubitably prove warm hosts and its verdant links a perfect test of Match Play golf for some of the world’s finest.
For many, golf’s oldest and most celebrated Match Play Championship is returning to its rightful home and London Golf Club is ready.