Peter Cook’s plan to bring the Ryder Cup to Hampstead

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THE Independent got in early with their Peter Cook tribute today, a few days short of what will be the 20th anniversary of the comedian’s death on Friday. It was fun to be reminded, however, by John Hind’s piece of Cook’s ‘Sven from Swiss Cottage’ calls to LBC and the time he put extraordinary effort into mapping out how Hampstead Heath should be used as the venue for the 2001 Ryder Cup, the golf showdown between players from Europe and the United States. Back in 1993, not that much more than a year before he died, Cook had six pages in Golf World magazine and further explanatory articles in the Evening Standard. There were diagrams and all sorts. Something about a dome covering the course to ensure perfect conditions.

Cook, who the legend has it  once thought about standing for parliament in Hampstead, insisted: “The Ryder Cup in Hampstead, while being anxious to maintain the traditions of the event, would be an innovative occasion. It would also compensate for the community’s disappointment in being denied the chance to stage the proposed Formula 1 Grand Prix through its streets. Hampstead is anxious to put on another major international event, having recently and successfully staged the Perrins Walk Morris Dancing Festival.”

And here was his explanation of the climax to his course, the final four holes:

The 15th: The North Circular. 701 yards, par five. Most professionals will play a one-iron off the tee to avoid Hendon and then take a taxi to Stanmore, which will afford them an interesting shot on to the green (Golders).

The 16th: The Tomb. 154 yards, par three. From Karl Marx’s grave in Highgate Cemetery, the green will be protected by bunkers and headstones. Anything short and you’re dead.

The 17th: The Spaniards. 449 yards, par four. There will be a distinctly Pedrena feel to this hole, with its gorgeous scenery and lack of room service.

The 18th: The Kenwood. 308 yards, par four. A glorious closing hole. The green will be within range of the big-hitters off the tee, but they will have to carry the lake, the orchestra and Edward Heath MP, who will be conducting as part of the overall leisure package available.


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