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 - Andrew Grimstone

Andrew Grimstone

Serving the Ryder Cup team – and the individual

Posted: 28 August 2014

Andrew Grimstone is Managing Director of Level 4 Golf Ltd. Level 4 provides licensed Ryder Cup merchandise and supplies the European team with their golf bags. Andrew worked with Europe’s Captain Paul McGinley to design the bags for 2014.

Level 4 Golf has been involved with The Ryder Cup since 1997. As well as the bags, we make the matching club head covers, umbrellas, towels and headwear for the players, the caddies and the official party.

And we do a range of accessories for the players, such as pitchforks, ball markers, tees, pencils, anything that they need in the club room.
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In general, golfers don't tend to have any real influence over golf bags. It's the caddy who looks after them, and they're given a bag by their hardware sponsor.

They don't have any great experience or expertise on what's going to be best. So we offer as much advice as possible.

For example, there's a very good chance that it's going to be damp at Gleneagles, like it was at Celtic Manor. So we're going for a bag that's sturdy and will keep the water out.

Whereas at Valhalla, in 2008, there was a good chance that we were going to get good weather, so we had a lightweight nylon bag.

Our biggest challenge is the fact that there are 12 golfers in the team – and all of them are different. They have their own views about what hats they like to wear, what they don't like to wear, what a golf bag should and shouldn't do.

So for us to get accessories that satisfy everybody is a major challenge. But we do listen to everything that we hear. We have great feedback from players and caddies, and we try to be responsive.

For example, we’ll do six different fits of headwear for the team members. We need to cater to every player's personal style and preference.

So you may all see them wearing what appear to be the same white hats, but they will all be different fits. ↑ [... less]


EY Ryder cup - Roger Hawkes

Roger Hawkes

Healthy inside and outside The Ryder Cup ropes

Posted: 26 August 2014

Roger Hawkes is Chief Medical Officer of the European Tour.

I’ve been European team doctor for the last four Ryder Cups. Over this time, I’ve learned that it’s important to remember the basics.

As well as working to prevent infections, we make sure that players have diet advice, and we help them to enter the match in a fit and healthy condition.

We also pick up on local climatic conditions. For example, in Valhalla in 2008, it was very hot and humid, so we had to look out for dehydration. ↓ [... more]


Research shows that if an athlete’s hydration level drops 2%, it can lead to a 10% reduction in performance. So the relationship between dehydration and performance is clear.

At Valhalla, some of the players were sweating and losing four or five kilos in weight during a round. In addition, if you’re a high salt loser, you may become salt depleted gradually over the course of the week.

This can be crucial to the match result, when you consider that all the critical matches occur on the last day of competition.

We make sure that the players get carbohydrates soon after they finish their round. If you don’t load up on carbohydrates soon after exercising, it can take a lot longer to get your glycogen stores back up to normal.

And, if you’re playing a number of rounds over the three days, this delay may lead to reduced performance.

The Race to Dubai physio bus comes to most European Tour events. It’s got a treatment area with three physio beds, a warm-up area, a private room with diagnostic ultrasound and examination facilities, and a consultation area.

It will be stationed at Gleneagles for The Ryder Cup, and the players can use it to help them prepare for their matches. It’s an environment that allows them to have some private time, which is in short supply at a Ryder Cup.

Another part of my role is overseeing the medical provision for the crowd at the event. At Gleneagles, we’ll have three teams of fully equipped doctors and paramedics who can get about the course on buggies.

Our on-course facilities cater for minor injuries and general practice needs. We have a big medical center in the middle of the site and various posts out on the course, so we won’t need to transfer patients off site in most cases.

This is important because the medical facilities in the local area would have difficulty coping with such a large influx of people.

For about two years, we’ve been working with the local NHS, accident and emergency centers, the Red Cross, the ambulance service, the police force and local authorities to prepare contingency plans for any eventuality – from injuries that might occur from slipping over in wet weather and minor illness, right up to and including a major incident.

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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.  

www.glenmuir.com

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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]


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