Exploring the team behind the team

Meet the men and women who create the conditions for Ryder Cup success.

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In September, 12 golfers from Europe will assemble at Gleneagles, in Scotland, to take on their counterparts from the US. But building a winning Ryder Cup team, and hosting a successful event, involves more people than just the players. Many others provide the insight and expertise that create the conditions for success.

So, as we look forward to the 2014 Ryder Cup, EY will be meeting members of this “Team behind the team”. We will find out how they are contributing to Europe’s bid for victory and to the organization of an event that will capture the attention of sports fans around the world.

Connecting the community

Heather Edment ‎is Golf Business Manager at the Gleneagles Hotel, in Auchterarder. Since the hosting rights were announced, she has played a key role in the venue’s Ryder Cup preparations.

Heather Edment
Heather Edment, who is helping to link The Ryder Cup with the local community.

Since it opened 90 years ago, Gleneagles has staged a number of big golf tournaments and high-profile events. Part of our role is to make sure that local people enjoy it if they want to be part of it – but, if they don’t, to ensure that it doesn’t disrupt their life. Because, come the first of October, when The Ryder Cup has moved on, our neighbors will still be our neighbors, and our members will still be our members.

During The Ryder Cup, the people of Auchterarder will still be going about their normal business. It's a wonderful event for Gleneagles and Scotland – and people won’t mind a little bit of inconvenience. But if it’s on your doorstep you might feel some trepidation.

So, ahead of each Ryder Cup, a community engagement group is formed. And I represent Gleneagles on the 2014 group. I live in Auchterarder, I was born in Auchterarder. When I step outside my front door, people say: “Ah, the very lady. How is such and such going to work?”

The community engagement group has been meeting formally since mid-2012. We are having a conference call or a get-together every month through 2014. There’s a local police officer on the group, whose role it is to provide authoritative answers when people want to find out whether any roads will be closed, for example.

Local community councilors and business groups are involved too. We’re making sure that local people are as well informed as they possibly can be, so they know what the week of competition – and the periods before and after it – will be like.

The venue will start to be developed in July and the last Ryder Cup infrastructure won't disappear from Gleneagles until December. So we’re really looking at six months when there will be a large impact on a relatively small community.

Some people will be very happy, because their local shops and restaurants will be busy. But others may feel that our quiet little town has been taken over. So we’re talking to people and sharing with them what we know and consulting with them – reminding them that not everything is set in stone. We ask them to let us know their worries and fears – and then we build these concerns into the plan.

But there are lots of positives to talk about. The group discusses how local firms can maximize their business opportunities and how local schools can engage with The Ryder Cup.

The local school was involved a lot with the “year to go” event. The town was abuzz for weeks before that event, and the kids took part in various different projects.

The spin-off was that some people who probably wouldn't have otherwise been that engaged saw their seven-year-olds come home and say they’ve met The Ryder Cup captains. This really helped to take The Ryder Cup into the community.

Europe’s golf bag: drawing board to first tee

Andrew Grimstone is Managing Director of Level 4 Golf. The company designs and manufactures the golf bags that will be carried by Team Europe.

Andrew Grimstone
Andrew Grimstone, who has worked with Captain Paul McGinley to design Europe’s golf bag.

The process of developing the golf bag started with a short introductory meeting with Paul McGinley. We had that in early 2013. During the course of that meeting, I explained to Paul what our role is with the European Ryder Cup team and what we supply. We ran through the process of producing the bag so that he had a clear understanding of what we need to achieve and the time frames with which we've got to work.

Then I took a brief from Paul. The bag needs to be unique to him, so I found out what colors he likes to work with. The next stage was to sit down with my design team and put together a raft of visuals. We really went to town on this. I think we presented 28 different visuals to him. He looked through them, gave us his feedback and came up with a couple of great ideas himself.

From those designs, we narrowed it down to five that he liked most. We integrated his ideas into the designs and got some more feedback from him. We showed him the last two visuals by email. He signed off on them and then we made the prototype bags.

We presented these bags to him in May last year. Following Paul’s feedback, we went away and produced another version, which we showed to him in July. We repeated this process and presented the next versions in Hong Kong, in November. We made some more amendments before presenting the bags to Paul in January – when he signed them off.

During this process, we move the logos, put things in different places, assess how the bag will look on TV, how it will look on the course, from close up and from a distance. We liaise with the clothing and waterproof suppliers to ensure that we don't have any major clashes of color and fabric.

The next task is to manufacture them. There is a very limited run. The players get two bags each, the captain and the vice-captains get a bag each, and we do a couple of reciprocal bags that are signed by all the players and then swapped with the PGA of America. And, aside from a couple of spares, that's it.

We make them in the Far East. We have an office in Hong Kong that looks after some of the design process and also the manufacture. They are all handmade. We have quality controllers there too. During the process of manufacture, they will be on-site to check that the bags are being produced to the specifications. The small run keeps it very exclusive. You can't buy the bag anywhere. It's just for the players, and we've always kept it that way.

The bags will arrive in the UK in August. At that time, we don't know the names of the players. So the minute the players are announced, we start adding names to them. And then we’ll take them up to Gleneagles the Sunday before the event and put them into the European team room.

Processing the pairings

David Garland is Director of Tour Operations at the European Tour. He is The Ryder Cup tournament director and he’ll be managing events on the course.

David Garland
David Garland obtains the afternoon pairings from Europe’s Captain José María Olazábal during the 2012 Ryder Cup.

I manage the golf side of The Ryder Cup. For example, this involves working with the European team captain and the agronomy teams at Gleneagles and the European Tour to set the width of the fairways and the height of the rough. My remit covers anything that gets placed upon the golf course, such as the grandstands, the hospitality units, the TV towers and the rope lines.

One of my main responsibilities is collating the team selections. On the day before play starts, I get the European selections for the first morning from the captain. Then I meet up with my American counterpart, Kerry Haigh, and we put the team sheets together – so we can see the pairings.

These are kept secret until the opening ceremony. Until then, even the captains don’t know who their players are paired against. The only people who know are me, Kerry, one of the referees and the person who inputs the pairings onto the graphic for television.

I like the drama of the moment when the draw for Friday morning is announced. The players are on stage and they are eager to see who they will play. When the announcement is made, I look to see if the players are giving a little bit of eye contact to those who they’ll play against.

Halfway through the morning’s play on Friday, I will go out and find the European captain on the golf course so I can get his pairings for the afternoon session. He will be busy on the course, so I’m not expecting him to come and find me. I go to find him, to make sure he’s aware of the time. He’ll be discussing with his vice-captains who’s playing well, who’s not playing well. They might have had a plan of how they were going to play in the afternoon, and that may have changed because of results on the course.

I give him a pre-prepared sheet of paper with the start times on it. He will write in his choices for Match 1, Match 2, Match 3 and Match 4. Then I put it in a sealed envelope, which I take back to our office. Kerry will get a similar sheet from the US captain. We go into our office and put the sheets together, checking that no names have been written twice.

We type them out and put the names up on a board for television and the public to see. If the European captain is out on the golf course, the quickest way to inform him of the matchups is via the team radio. So, I would let our captain know what the American choices are.