Team behind the team

The stories of experts and organizers who help
the European Team and make The Ryder Cup happen

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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.

EY Ryder cup - Scott Crockett

Scott Crockett

Teeing off into the Twittersphere

Posted: 31 July 2014

Scott Crockett is Communications Director of the European Tour.

As we get closer to the 2014 Ryder Cup, media interest grows and grows. So, working alongside Paul McGinley’s personal support staff, I monitor the interview requests.

Sometimes we have to say no, because there is simply no time for Paul to do them all. He’s still playing events on the Tour and, of course, he’s planning for The Ryder Cup, so we need to strike a balance for him. ↓ [... more]

Another part of my role is working with colleagues to set up the Media Center for Gleneagles. We need to make sure that the media people have a facility that enables them to do their jobs properly. We meet regularly with the Association of Golf Writers and with the Photographers’ Association to get their feedback. And we speak with their American counterparts too.

Paul is the only person from the European team who will be in the Media Center every single day. He will give an interview every day from Monday to Sunday.

During the preview days, there’s a lot to be done. We must make sure that Paul's appearances at the opening ceremony and the gala dinner are fully planned. But of course, on the match days themselves, his main focus will be on how things are going on the golf course.

The Ryder Cup attracts a huge media contingent. There will be about 450 people seated in the Media Center but, when you add in TV personnel, the number  is beyond 1,000. So we will bring in extra staff, PR resources and volunteers to help us.

You can imagine that every single member of the media corps would like to have a one-on-one with the top players – but that’s just impossible. So, beforehand, we structure a rigid interview schedule.

In the three days before the action starts, we give players an hour of media work, split between the media center and our main broadcasters in Europe (Sky Sports) and in the US (NBC).

The majority of the players will have agents who help them deal with the media throughout the year. But The Ryder Cup is different.

In the week of The Ryder Cup, the job of looking after the media side of things is down to my team. Otherwise, you could have 12 different representatives looking after 12 different players. It just wouldn’t work. So we help the players in attending to the press and move them through the media areas.

Nowadays, the slightest comment made by a player or somebody around the team can, within minutes, travel around the world via social media. Things can be taken out of context – especially when you’ve only got 140 characters to express yourself.

Journalists are looking for instantaneous stories. In the past, when there were only daily newspapers, you had a 12- or 18-hour gap to think and get things into perspective. Not now. The immediacy means that these stories can have an effect on what's happening on the course.

I need to follow all this so I can make Paul aware of what’s important – while allowing him to concentrate on looking after the team. ↑ [... less]

EY Ryder cup - Mike McClellan

Mike McClellan

Reading the line at The Ryder Cup

Posted: 22 July 2014

Mike McClellan is a meteorologist advising on weather conditions at Gleneagles.

The Ryder Cup organizers get opinions on weather patterns from different sources, including the Met Office [UK's National Weather Service].

I take a very detailed look at the weather, specifically at the golf course, for the three- or four-week period prior to The Ryder Cup. I go back in history, as far as I can, and put together a climate summary of how many sunny, cloudy or rainy days there have been, and how much rain is expected at that time of the year. ↓ [... more]

For the week of the tournament, we drill down as closely as possible to look at exactly how much rain we’re anticipating, and what days are going to be the worst. The organizers can then adjust their plans.

We’ll have two meteorologists on-site: myself and another from my staff. One of us will arrive on the Sunday prior to the tournament, but we will be monitoring the Gleneagles weather remotely for three weeks prior to that. We will be watching it day by day, producing weather forecasts a couple of times a day, talking regularly with the greenkeepers and officials, letting them know what’s going on.

Sometimes the weather, and the effect it has behind the scenes, seems like the main focus. But we must never forget that we’re all there for the competition. So the biggest reason I’m there is to let the captains, the rules officials and the tournament director know exactly what’s happening weather-wise.

And we advise the ground staff on what weather to expect. We always look as far ahead as possible so they can plan. They do a lot of planning – whether it’s putting certain chemicals on the greens or mowing the greens certain ways – weeks and even months before the competition.

During the week of the tournament, let’s say we discover that it’s going to be very windy on a particular day. They might mow the greens just a little higher than they would have done to help prevent the wind from moving the golf balls on the green. That’s just one example of how we can use forecasting to help the players and officials.

Weather can interrupt the competition or even have an effect on the rules. The rules officials have to be ready for certain situations that they might not have had to deal with before.

They might have a pin placement set up in a low spot on the green for Friday’s play. If I’m predicting heavy rain for that day, they’re going to ask me: “Now wait a minute. I’ve got this pin set in a low spot. A puddle will develop on the green in that spot first. So how sure are you that it’s going to rain? And when is it going to rain?”

Then the official will have to make the call. “Okay, we’re not going to put the pin there on Friday. We’ll maybe put it there on Saturday. For Friday, we’ll move it up on top of a hill so it doesn’t flood as quickly.” ↑ [... less]

EY Ryder cup - Alan Gibb, Executive Chef at the Gleneagles resort speaks on his task ahead at The Ryder Cup 2014.

Alan Gibb

A taste for success at The Ryder Cup

Posted: 14 July 2014

Alan Gibb is Executive Chef at the Gleneagles resort.

I oversee a team of 80 chefs across five kitchens. At the 2014 Ryder Cup, our task is to prepare food for both sets of teams, officials and their families.

There are two eating areas at the clubhouse for the players, for the practice days and during the matches. There are also two areas at the hotel for dining after practice and then, later in the week, after the matches. ↓ [... more]

We’ve been working with the European and US teams to develop the menus. We drew up an initial draft and sent it off for feedback. Following their comments, we tweaked a couple of things before getting the menus finalized. The menus have been guided by our previous experience of hosting the Johnnie Walker Championship. We’ve seen what the golfers generally like and need.

The players are there to work, so we need to give them the right fuel for what they’re doing. Essentially, the two teams need the same high-protein, high-carbohydrate food. But there are some differences in tastes between the teams. For example, on the American menus, we have pretzels and peanut butter sandwiches, things like that.

We’re going to be serving food for the players at the clubhouse all day from 5:00 a.m. For breakfast, we’ll serve porridge, cooked breakfasts, fruit and juices, and service will run until 10:30 a.m. This will be followed by lunch and then afternoon snacks.

In the evenings, we’ll serve the players food up at the hotel. Again, timing is crucial. For example, continental Europeans tend to eat a bit later than the British players. So our presumption is that we’ll have the dinner buffet ready from 6:00 p.m. and it will run until 9:30 p.m. They tend to eat healthily. They will have a lot of white meat, fish, pasta and salad.

We will remain receptive to the needs of the players. We’ll be ready to react if last minute requests come in. We’ve got a very good supplier from Manchester who imports a lot of American goods. And equally, we’ve got very good links to a lot of the European markets.

We’re looking to source local produce as much as we can. We are very fortunate that a lot of our key suppliers are local. Our butcher is only 6 miles away and our fishmonger about 15 miles away. We’ll also be featuring local berries and cheeses from around Scotland.

I’ve been to the last two Ryder Cups in America, observing the work that went on in the kitchens. So I know the task ahead. ↑ [... less]

EY Ryder cup - A family affair at The Ryder Cup

Laura Gordon

A family affair at The Ryder Cup

Posted: 3 July 2014

Laura Gordon works on the help desk at the Gleneagles Hotel.

I have been working at the hotel since 1986. I started in housekeeping as a holiday job before I went to university. Then I worked for the jewelers in the front hall before transferring to the communications department. I did four years in facilities before housekeeping, communications and maintenance was merged to form the help desk – where I work today.

My family’s association with Gleneagles goes back to the late 1940s. That was when my grandmother came up from Glasgow to work in the hotel’s laundry. My grandfather was a shipbuilder on the Clyde, but he also did a stint as a plate washer in the 1950s.↓ [... more]

My mother came to work here in the housekeeping team in the 1960s. At the time, Gleneagles was part of British Transport Hotels (BTH), and it was only seasonal. So my mother would work here for part of the year and then at another BTH hotel, mostly the Adelphi in Liverpool. It was a work pattern followed by most of the staff who worked here then.

My father was a waiter in the lounge from 1971 to 1974. He left, but returned in 1983 when the hotel started to open all year round. He worked as a luggage porter until his retirement five years ago. My brother worked in banqueting and then housekeeping. Later, he worked with my father as a luggage porter. Today, he’s the head porter in the front hall.

My sister was the assistant florist for 10 years. Her husband started at Gleneagles as a wine waiter, and he now works in food and beverage purchasing.

I just love it here. I’m a local girl, and the hotel has always been part of my life. The surroundings are just stunning. And there’s a great team mentality.

My role at the help desk includes the switchboard. Generally, we are the first point of contact for Gleneagles, and it’s our responsibility to ensure that the customers receive efficient, friendly service. During The 2014 Ryder Cup, I expect the volume of calls will increase, and the nature of the external calls will be predominantly golf-related.

We’re going to be very busy with enquiries from spectators. They’ll be asking about trains running from their hometowns and the tee times of their favorite golfers.

With a high-profile event such as The Ryder Cup, we’ll be getting members of the public thinking they can just call in and speak to a golfer directly – but that’s not going to happen!

Part of my job is to deal with communications between the hotel and the emergency services. If, for example, there’s an accident, a fire alarm or a breach of security, I’ll be working alongside our in-house security team and our risk manager.

Our little town of Auchterarder is going to be in the news every night. I know what to expect because we have held very high-profile events here before, such as the G8 summit in 2005. The town was very busy then, and there will be that buzz around again. It’s going to be fabulous. ↑ [... less]

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