Ryder Cup course architect reveals design for drama

Dave Sampson

With just six months to go until The 2023 Ryder Cup in Rome, course designer Dave Sampson says fans can expect great drama on the all new Marco Simone Golf & Country Club golf course.

Speaking on the Syngenta Growing Golf podcast, Sampson reveals the thinking behind a course fit for the world’s best players – and the need to create back nine drama.

“When you’re designing a Ryder Cup course, you’re not just trying to find an 18-hole golf course or the best 18 holes on that land, you’re trying to find the best 18 golf holes for fans and spectators,” he explains.

“In laying out the golf course we consciously tried to factor in key vantage points to add to the drama.

“The back nine especially is laced with risk-reward holes, drama and everything that a Ryder Cup course we feel should be.”

Sampson’s design maximizes the land’s natural elevation changes, showcasing views which, on a clear day, extend to St Peter’s Basilica.

The designer, born in England and raised in South Africa, also tells host Gary Firkins how his interest in design started, the unconventional breakthrough that sparked his career and reveals the inner workings behind preparing a course for an event of such magnitude as The Ryder Cup – including the importance of his relationship with Golf Course Superintendent Lara Arias and her turf team as they diligently fine-tune the course over the coming months.

Making courses sustainable and accessible

As golf courses come under increased scrutiny for their environmental credentials, Sampson also details the proactive steps they have taken at Marco Simone to create a vibrant, sustainable environment. This includes choosing a grass type requiring 30% less irrigation inputs than the typical strain.

Away from Marco Simone, Sampson speaks of the growing importance of accessibility and routing, from efficiency with land use to creating course designs which allow for loops of 3, 6 or 9 holes, creating different playing options for customers.

Listen now

Episode two of the Syngenta Growing Golf podcast, ‘Designing for Drama’ is available to listen to now via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and other major streaming platforms. For more information and to listen back to the first episode, 'Golf & The Great Divide', click the link below:

Syngenta Growing Golf Podcast | Episode 2 | Designing for Drama