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The Ryder Cup is coming to… Bolton! £200m plan to convert estate into world-class golf course

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Bolton. For people of a certain age, it will forever be known as Nat Lofthouse’s home. Younger generations may think of Peter Kay. The Ryder Cup? You are joking.

Only they are not. In April, the three UK venues bidding to host golf’s famed transatlantic tiff in 2031 or 2035 will be announced. The Belfry, in Warwickshire, and the London Club – believed to be in the frame – are in all likelihood going up against a new northern lad nearby.

If all goes according to the £200 million plan, the Miracle at Medinah and the Battle of Brookline may well be joined by the Hammering at Hulton Hall.

It’s not as crazy as it sounds.

There’s a new Northern Kid on the block hoping to win the Ryder Cup hosting rights

There is a £200m plan for Hulton Hall in Bolton, to be converted into a golf course

There is a £200m plan for Hulton Hall in Bolton, to be converted into a golf course

Peel L&P, the Manchester-based development giant, is ready to spend huge sums on the transformation of an 800-acre historic estate on Bolton’s rural border with Wigan.

They’ve already hired famed designer Ross McMurray to plan for an 18-hole championship course, along with a hotel and cabins for players, like in Augusta.

A building permit has been obtained, but after opposition from some local residents, new proposals will be submitted to the town hall in January. The government has given the green light to the plan, which includes 1,000 new homes, as long as the Ryder Cup bid is successful.

In short, by the decision day of May or June, what sounds like a dream may become reality.

A trip to the site soon reveals that the idea is far from outlandish. Behind long walls and an innocent gate, a rolling expanse of mature forest seems poised for a course.

Renowned designer Ross McMurray has designed a stunning 18-hole course for the venue

Renowned designer Ross McMurray has designed a stunning 18-hole course for the venue

“The aim is to host what we would call the People’s Ryder Cup,” said PGA professional Pete Styles, who runs an academy at the nearby Peel-owned Trafford Center and has been heavily involved in the project.

“We would be looking at 75,000 people a day (about 45,000 attended each day from last month’s US romp in Whistling Straits). This golf course can accommodate a lot of people.

“It’s got the connectivity, it’s close to international airports and it’ll have the hotel beds in and around, with Manchester down the road. As long as Ryder Cup Europe is hungry, we think we can hit 100,000 a day, but we want to make sure it continues to be a good viewing experience.”

McMurray, who has worked at previous sites Celtic Manor and Le Golf National in Paris, has been given a blank canvas and the result looks set to be a stunning 18 holes. There is plenty of water and an abundance of signature holes on the back nine, overlooked by a massive amphitheater from which the thousands of fans can get into the action.

No shortage of history either. The land belonged to the Hulton family for over 1,000 years, a member of whom was responsible for the Peterloo massacre when he sent the army to arrest one of the speakers. The tragedy lies elsewhere. Across the road from the site is the scene of the 1910 Pretoria Pit Disaster, when an underground explosion killed 344 men and boys. It’s already a storyline and the next chapter may not be far away.

The track would take three to four years to build and could accommodate 100,000 fans

The track would take three to four years to build and could accommodate 100,000 fans

“We think it’s the backdrop to creating something really special,” said Peel director of land and communities Richard Knight. “Not only would we open 800 acres to the public, but we think there would be a total economic impact of £1.6 billion at the UK level with the lion’s share in Bolton and Greater Manchester in 20 to 30 years. With 1,000 jobs created, the first impact is huge.’

Construction would take three to four years. A major championship should be organized before the likes of Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm head into town.

They are enthusiastic, and they have every reason to be. Growing up less than a mile from Hulton Hall, PGA pro-turned-YouTuber Rick Shiels is wholeheartedly in his support. “I’m really excited,” he says.

The Northwest is crying out for a quality trail away from the coast. This is one place you don’t get used to and it would be incredible to host one of the world’s greatest sporting events.”

Shiels, who knows a thing or two about the planet’s best orbits, is impressed by what he’s seen.

Sportsmail's Mike Keegan manages to carve one out of bounds at the Hulton Hall estate

Sportsmail’s Mike Keegan manages to carve one out of bounds at the Hulton Hall estate

An activist from a local residents group says there is strong opposition to the plans

An activist from a local residents group says there is strong opposition to the plans

“Some of the signature holes look out of this world,” he says. “If you get the chance to custom design a Ryder Cup course, you can really go into town and make it a spectacle, and Ross has done that. You can imagine where the dramatic holes will be, where the excitement will end and make sure those places are surrounded by amphitheatres. You want the fans at the key moments.’

Not everyone shares Shiels’ enthusiasm. Hulton Estate Area Residents Together (HEART) has raised concerns about traffic problems, the impact on local services and greenery development.

HART activist Sandra Hesketh said: “We strongly object to it. There is no demand for a new golf course – the existing ones are struggling.

“Developers cannot continue to destroy farms to build lucrative residential areas. With Brexit, we need our farms more than ever. Demolition of the old Hulton Park Estate would greatly contribute to the loss of habitat and wildlife. We should help save our planet.’

Knight hopes they will one day be won.

“We hope the people who live here will be proud to have one of the world’s best golf courses on their doorstep,” he says.

“People who say, ‘Why Bolton?’ don’t understand the northwest and the hunger for big sporting events here,” Styles says. England are desperate to get the Ryder Cup back. It would be fantastic for the country and the North.’

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