EY - Team behind the team

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 - Ian Plumley

Ian Plumley

Up close to The Ryder Cup action

Posted: 25 September 2014

Ian Plumley will be a TV spotter at this year’s Ryder Cup – helping the production crew to understand exactly what’s unfolding out on the course.

I'm an English businessman who has been based in Dubai for the last six years.

Shortly after I arrived, I met a friend who was a marshal. I thought getting involved like that would be fun, so I signed up. ↓ [... more]


My first event was the Dubai Desert Classic in 2009. Since then, I've marshaled many events and taken on the role of TV spotting.

TV spotting is a bit more intense. It's more pressurized, which I love. And it’s closer to the action.

TV spotters are treated like marshals. For example, we're given marshaling clothing to wear.

But as the event starts, we join up with Sky TV and the Ryder Cup Europe communications team, and we’re with the TV crew for the whole event.

We have a briefing meeting on the day before an event starts. And then, each morning, we’re allocated the games to go and follow.

We get a few tips about what to do and what not to do with certain players. But generally, we just go out and do our job.

When we're told who it is that we are going to be following, the most important thing is to go to the driving range and watch your players. You need to see what they're wearing.

Because when you're standing 250 yards away, you need to know who that guy in the red shirt is – you cannot second guess it and risk giving the wrong information to the TV crew.

You've got to be absolutely on your game for the four hours or so that you’re on the course. You must concentrate on making sure that you've scored it properly, that you've fed back the right information on who is playing next and whose ball is lying where.

It's pretty intense, but it's really good to feel part of the TV team.

Over the years, you build up a rapport with some of the caddies. Before the round starts, I try to make a point of saying hello to the caddies whose players I’ll be following, and telling them I'm with their game.

We’re not allowed to talk to the players, but we can have a conversation with the caddies. They might be able to confirm a vital piece of information, such as whether one of the players took a drop.

I make my own pretty detailed scoresheet. Sometimes, during the round, I’ll get a call from the producer asking how many putts a certain player has had.

The statisticians back in the control room keep their own records, but sometimes we're asked for verification. So, I record not just how many shots each player took on a hole, but how many putts and chips they have taken too.

When you’re out on the course, you have to be aware of flying golf balls. I’ve not been hit, but once, a ball flew over my head and hit a lady in the face.

Because I was radioed up, I could give information that helped the medics get to her quickly.

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EY Ryder cup - Mike McClellan

Mike McClellan

In the eye of the Ryder Cup storm

Posted: 24 September 2014

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

Weather affects so many issues at a Ryder Cup.

Wet weather may mean that spectators have to use different routes to get around the course. The people in charge of hospitality need to know if the tents are likely to get flooded. ↓ [... more]


If the parking lots are flooded, the police need to change the routing of all the traffic coming in and out of the venue.

When the weather turns bad, all the organization hangs on it.

At Celtic Manor, in 2010, I had all these people in my office on-site, trying to get the very latest information so they could go out and do their jobs better.
At The Ryder Cup, the pressure is magnified. There is a tremendous amount of media.

So when the weather turns bad and it affects the competition, all of a sudden the media wants a piece of the weather person.

They want to ask every question in the world.

How much rain fell? How much rain is going to fall? Are we going to have bad weather throughout the week? Is there going to be fog? Is there going to be wind? Are we going to have lightning? How is the weather going to affect play?

Then they’ll turn to the greenkeeper.

What are you going to do if there’s a lot of rain? What are you doing to take care of the golf course? What preparations are you making?

And then, attention will move to the rules officials.

Are we going to start early? Are we going to start late? Are we going to have to alter the format?

At Celtic Manor, the tournament director David Garland faced the media regularly to give updates on the impact of the weather.

He would come to speak with me, take some notes. He would put them with all of the other operational information he had and then go and brief the media.

The broadcasters wanted to do an interview with me on the air.

So they came down to the weather office. I did live and taped interviews in which I told them what I thought was happening and what I thought was going to happen.

One of the broadcasters asked me to visit their studio.

I went live on air, with weather maps showing what was developing and what we were expecting for the day, so the millions of TV viewers knew what to expect too.

The last two Ryder Cups in Europe have been hit by wind and heavy rain. At Gleneagles, we are all hoping for nice weather.

When the weather is bad, it seems to affect the entire event. But if it’s nice, nobody even knows I’m there.

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EY Ryder cup - Andrew Grimstone

Andrew Grimstone

The Ryder Cup Seve Ballesteros silhouette

Posted: 23 September 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, which feature a silhouette of the the late Spanish golfer Seve Ballesteros.

It was amazing to see the interest around the silhouette of Seve Ballesteros put on the bag for Medinah.

It got more publicity than any golf bag that we can remember. There was a massive amount of pride in that. ↓ [... more]


I can’t quite recall where the idea came from. I'm pretty sure it was from [the Spanish golfer] José María Olazábal.

We decided early on with José María (Ollie) that we were going to go navy and white with the bag. This was because of the Seve connection. Then the silhouette idea developed.

The challenge for us was to get across a tribute to Seve while honoring, not diminishing, Seve himself. We didn't want to overplay it, or allow it to become too much of a Seve bag.

Getting the balance right was quite some challenge. It wasn't a question of just putting it on.

I think we probably did 20 or 30 visuals of the silhouette to try and get it as we wanted it to be, to get it the right size and in the correct position.

It had to go through a huge approval process.

In the end, Ollie just loved it. He was so proud of it, which was nice. ↑ [... less]


EY Ryder cup - Alan Gibb

Alan Gibb

Preparation areas at The Ryder Cup

Posted: 18 September 2014

Alan Gibb is the Executive Chef at the Gleneagles resort. She is responsible for coordinating the contingency plans.

My role is 80% management, but I still enjoy cooking very much. That’s my passion.

I still try to be involved in the kitchens wherever I can. So, as well as menu development, I’ll get involved in tastings and private dining events. ↓ [... more]


And I’m around in the kitchens, making sure that things are going well.

Being a chef is an all-consuming role. It’s not something you can do in a normal working week.

But we have a lot of fun. I learn new things every day, and so do the chefs around me.

People come from around the world to work in the kitchens, and you pick things up from them.

Catering for such a high-profile event takes careful planning. For example, we’ll have a team at the clubhouse who will prepare food for both sets of players and look after families and officials.

The first team of chefs will start at 4:30 a.m. They will be relieved by a second team that will come in and cover the late afternoon and evening.

And then, within the main kitchen of the hotel, we’ll have a similar setup. I’ve got head chefs and sous chefs who will take ownership of these teams.

My role is going to be making sure that everybody is doing their part, and all the chefs are up to speed and getting on with it.

The guys will have to dig deep to get the job done. I’m very lucky that chefs, generally, are self-motivated people. They really want to succeed.

I also look at the logistics of bringing products onto the site. Roads will be closed at certain times, so we’re arranging for suppliers to deliver at allocated time slots.

I will plan the operation and then trust my team to deliver. We are very much a team.

I think the most important things I do are listening to people, understanding their pressures and concerns, and making sure that each team member understands their role.

I’m very reliant on the team to make sure that we come through.

A lot of the chefs are very experienced. Experience in different kitchens, and of different events and situations, means that we should be able to get over any challenges that might arise.

But equally, we’ve got a lot of young, very keen staff who want to make their mark and be associated with The Ryder Cup.

We’re all proud to work at Gleneagles, and being here during a Ryder Cup is an absolute honor. Although it’s challenging, it’s very rewarding. ↑ [... less]


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