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.

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EY Ryder cup - Mikhel Ruia

Mikhel Ruia

Knitting the Ryder Cup team together

Posted: 21 August 2014

Mikhel Ruia is Managing Director of Glenmuir, suppliers of shirts and knitwear to the European team.

Glenmuir has been crafting golf wear in Scotland since 1891. As a Scottish company, it’s important for us that all the knitwear is made in Scotland.

Glenmuir is a family-run firm, and our Scottish heritage is something we value highly. So with The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland, the home of golf, it’s a special year for us. ↓ [... more]

Being involved in The Ryder Cup really motivates the team at our headquarters in Lanark, Scotland. Many of our staff are going to be attending the event, given that it’s so close to home.

A lot of planning, precision and passion go into creating the team shirts and the knitwear. We are all excited to see the final output at Gleneagles – and we’ll all be rooting for the European team.

It is imperative for the Glenmuir team that we get the team shirts and knitwear just right. Every little detail counts.

It’s a lot of hard work, but it really is worth it in the end. It’s very satisfying to contribute, in our own way, to the European team and to the wider game of golf.

There is always a lot of interest in what the teams are wearing, so it’s important that we keep the designs under lock and key. It’s a very special moment when the players go out on the first tee and the uniforms are revealed.

A great bond is created when all of the players are in the team kit – and we truly believe the team clothing can inspire too.

Of all the European Ryder Cup team outfits we’ve been involved with over the last 27 years, the one that gives us the most satisfaction is the navy sweater and white shirt that the players wore at the final day in Medinah, in honor of Seve Ballesteros.

There are iconic photographs of the players kissing the Seve logo. And for us, bringing the team together in that way symbolized what The Ryder Cup is all about. To be part of that was very special.

It’s a real team effort among all the European suppliers. We support each other and get behind the team.

As suppliers, we keep each other updated, and share ideas and designs so that the players look coordinated and at their best.

There is a bit of friendly rivalry with our US counterparts, but it’s all in good spirit. There is no animosity at all.

We do wonder what the US team will be wearing, because we don’t want the teams’ clothing designs to clash on any day. The organizers cooperate to make sure that the teams don’t wear identical colors on the same day.

All of the team suppliers, whether they’re Scottish, from continental Europe or America, come together to support The Ryder Cup.

It’s a testament to the very nature of The Ryder Cup matches. Being part of this truly global sporting spectacle is a great honor for Glenmuir. And given that The Ryder Cup is in Scotland this year, it’s just that bit more special for us.

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EY Ryder cup - Edward Kitson

Edward Kitson

Past experience, future success at The Ryder Cup

Posted: 13 August 2014

Edward Kitson, Europe’s Ryder Cup Match Director, discusses learning from experience and long-term planning.

The first Ryder Cup I worked on was back in 1989, when I was a runner. My abiding memory of that week was getting up at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning and going to bed at about 11 o’clock that night. The whole thing was a haze of running around and doing so many different jobs throughout the day.

It was a great start and the beginning of a steep learning curve. My role has developed gradually and, from 1997, I have worked under Ryder Cup Director Richard Hills as the main operational person. That was the first year The Ryder Cup was staged in continental Europe, which was a tremendous challenge. ↓ [... more]

Learning from experience is extremely important. So, when The Ryder Cup is all over, I coordinate a process where each key member of the team writes a review. We ask them to focus on what good things happened, what bad things happened, what should receive closer attention in future and what can be improved upon.

This process takes the best part of three months. After The Ryder Cup, a lot of our people are exhausted and some are rushing off to do other events. So we need a little time to reflect.

When the reports are submitted, I pick out the key elements and make sure that we implement the changes we identify when it comes to organizing the next Ryder Cup.

Of course, we’re working hard to prepare for Gleneagles, but we’re also looking ahead to 2018, when The Ryder Cup takes place at Le Golf National in France. We’ve been focusing on Le Golf National, looking at the course, evaluating what needs to be done.

It’s a great test of golf, but some drainage and irrigation issues need to be looked at. There is a lot of scrub and mounding that is not particularly spectator-friendly, so we’re preparing a program to get that thinned out.

We’re already planning where all the structures will go around the site – such as the hospitality, the public village, the media center and the TV compound. And we’ve started the transportation planning, working out how people are going to get to and from Le Golf National, and how we can maximize the use of hotels in Paris and trains from the capital.

So I’m dealing with a number of French agencies. I do speak a little bit of French. My wife is fluent, which helps. But, once this year’s Ryder Cup is over, I have a definite plan to take French lessons.

At the moment, we are fortunate that a lot of the people we deal with in France speak good English. But it is important that we are respectful and that French rather than English should be the language in which we converse during meetings.

The importance of speaking the local language is something I learned in 1997, when The Ryder Cup was held in Spain. I didn’t speak Spanish. We employed a couple of people in Spain who had some event experience and who could speak both Spanish and English.

But, in the end, the decisions we had to make came down to me and the core team. If you cannot understand the full conversations that are taking place, then you never get the full picture. And so I think it’s vital that, to fulfill the role as best I can, I need to speak really good French in 2018. ↑ [... less]

EY Ryder cup - Antonia Beggs

Antonia Beggs

Ryder Cup: 3-day event, 7 years in the making

Posted: 8 August 2014

Preparations start before the venue is announced. We started to plan for the 2018 Ryder Cup in 2011. That was when I joined colleagues from the European Tour on a visit to the sites that were bidding to host in 2018.

We looked at the various courses and considered whether, from a purely operational perspective, a Ryder Cup could be staged there.

We looked at the challenges and thought: what do we need to do to overcome them and make The Ryder Cup happen here? ↓ [... more]

To be honest, with time and investment, you could stage pretty much anything anywhere, if the will is there to make it happen. We have to consider how much it will cost to get a venue ready.

Once the host country was announced, I went to France to scope out the venue. Already, we know where the tented village is going to be and we’ve got a summary of the transportation plan.

At Gleneagles, we’ll have to cater for 250,000 spectators. We liaise with Event Scotland to make sure there are enough places for them to stay.

We will have airport-level security. We appoint a security company to provide around 600 on-the-ground personnel.

As well as the general spectator ticketing, there is all the accreditation. We work out who’s allowed to go where; who has access to what structures.

In all, around 7,000 temporary staff will help to turn the golf course into a place that can safely house 250,000 people over the week. All these staff members must be recruited, trained and accredited.

Attending the Ryder Cups that are played in the US is an extremely valuable experience. I go around with my opposite number from the US and look at everything they do, all the behind-the-scenes stuff.

This is so useful. Because I'm not involved in staging it, and therefore not running around with six radios, I get the chance to observe, consider what they’re doing and think about whether there are things we can learn back in Europe.

Then they come over to us and we show them what we're doing. So there’s a real exchange of information and ideas.

You learn a huge amount working with a different organization, especially from across the pond. We're all good friends and, while it’s competitive on the course, we all pull together as organizers. ↑ [... less]

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]

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"The chemistry has to be there. It’s important when you have two players and they feel comfortable with each other on the golf course or they think the same way on the golf course, and they’ve known each other for many years. But on the other hand, it’s not just that. It’s the way they play golf, it’s the way they see the game, and I think it’s a combination of those little things that create a good pairing." ↑ [... less]