Team behind the team

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

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Ryder Cup 2014: Team behind team blog archive

Alan Gibb | Andrew Grimstone | Andrew Jowett | Antonia Beggs | Chris Sells and John Franks |
David Garland | Edward Kitson | Heather Edment | Ian Plumley | Laura Gordon |
Mike McClellan | Mikhel Ruia | Roger Hawkes | Scott Crockett | Scott Fenwick

EY Ryder cup - Alan Gibb

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 - 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.
↓ [... more]

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]

Pride and passion at The Ryder Cup

Posted: 25 June 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. Working on something like The Ryder Cup is an amazing experience and something I really cherish. To deal with the captains and the Tour has been an amazing experience for me, personally. They are such a loyal, committed bunch of people.

I think that over the years, all the players, organizers and companies that work on The Ryder Cup have one thing in common: they want to win. And we certainly deal with every European captain on the basis that we make some sort of contribution. It may just be a golf bag or a hat, but we look at it from the perspective that if we make a golf bag or a hat and the players like it and feel good about themselves, then that's helping. That's contributing to a positive environment for the players to be in. ↓ [... more]

Anything that we can do that induces a positive feeling in the camp has got to help. And that goes right through our supply chain. All of us who are involved with the design and manufacture share this common goal.

The Tour and external suppliers know each other pretty well. We've worked in that environment for some time now. And I think that anyone who comes in is welcomed into it in the same way and shares those same goals.

The sheer magnitude of the event itself is motivation enough. It's a massive shop window for everyone involved. Every supplier that has the opportunity to get involved has so much pride in the fact that they've been chosen that they will always go that extra mile.

Given the stature of the event today, the way it's portrayed around the world, and the drama of Medinah and Celtic Manor, who wouldn't want to be involved with it? It's not difficult to raise your game.

Without a doubt, working with The Ryder Cup team is a real source of pride and motivation for our people. It's a great motivator internally. It's sad that no one sees the golf bag before the event. It's a huge secret that we have to keep for some time. But when it’s actually unveiled, it's a great feeling.

I will be at Gleneagles on the Monday or Tuesday of the week itself to make sure that everything, in terms of our team supply, is sorted. But once play starts, there's very little I can do. There's no real reason for me to be there. I’ll probably prefer to watch it on TV anyway and see how my bags are looking. ↑ [... less]

Europe’s golf bag: drawing board to first tee

Posted: 28 February 2014

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

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 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.↓ [... more]

We presented these bags to him at the BMW Championship in May last year. Following Paul’s feedback, we went away and produced another version, which we showed to him at the Scottish Open 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 clothes and waterproofs 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 Tour. 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 players’ room. ↑ [... less]

EY Ryder cup - Andrew Jowett

Andrew Jowett

The Ryder Cup: atmosphere and anticipation

Posted: 1 September 2014

Andrew Jowett is the Head Golf Professional at Gleneagles.

Gleneagles was announced as host of The 2014 Ryder Cup before I came here. So the event has been on my mind all the time I’ve worked at Gleneagles.

Preparing for a match of this size is a bit awe-inspiring, given the audiences that it attracts in person, on television and through social media. ↓ [... more]

Paul McGinley has played here in the Johnnie Walker Championship for a number of years and has a good understanding of the golf course and the resort itself.

His team record, whether playing or being a captain or vice-captain, is phenomenal. So I think in that respect he’s got all his ducks in a row. But if he wants any local advice, I’m more than happy to help.

The European players will have a good insight into how the golf course plays. I’m sure there will be an opportunity for them to play the course before the event, just to make sure that they know exactly how it’s set up and how it’s going to play.

At the beginning of Ryder Cup week itself, my team will be running the driving range for the players.

We’re relocating the range for the actual event. We’ll use the first hole of the King’s Course as the range.

I will have a few media commitments to fulfill during the course of the week. And I’ll be assisting with any operational or logistical questions and jobs that might crop up.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to be a professional at such an iconic resort during such an exciting time. I’m looking forward to the atmosphere.

We’re exceptionally fortunate to sit within grounds that afford some of the most stunning views in the world of golf. When you combine the views with 45,000 knowledgeable spectators each day, I think the atmosphere is going to be absolutely spine-tingling.

I’ve been to a couple of Ryder Cups before. I first experienced it at The Belfry.

As a young fan at the time, I just loved every element of it. The fact that it’s a different style of event – a team match play event – gets the passion going and the juices flowing.

The atmosphere at each Ryder Cup that I’ve been to has been fantastic. And I’m looking forward to being that little bit closer to the action when it’s happening within our grounds. ↑ [... less]

Getting into the swing of things at The Ryder Cup

Posted: 13 May 2014

I didn’t start playing golf properly until the age of about 13. When I was 16 and 17, I wasn't particularly proficient. I had an OK handicap of around 12. Then I just happened to meet the right coach at the right time, and we worked together to get my handicap down from 12 to 2 in the space of just two years.

This put me on the path to getting the opportunity to be a professional at Gleneagles during one of the most exciting times in the resort's history.

As the head professional, I’m part of a team that services a wide range of people – hotel residents, members, day visitors and corporate guests. The services can be anything from individual or corporate tuition to running events for those groups. We also sell golf equipment and custom fit golf clubs.

We have a team of eight PGA professionals, five fully qualified and three who are currently going through their training. I help the trainees to prepare for their exams. They study various aspects of the industry, such as coaching, sports science, business management and the rules of the game. And those of us who are already qualified are also involved in further development. ↓ [... more]

At Gleneagles, we don’t promote a certain style of coaching that all our coaches will administer. It’s very much tailored to the individual. Each of the coaches will make sure that they take time to engage with the member or the guest, to get to know them and to get to know their attributes.

Then we make sure that the coaching sessions are tailored to that individual, so we can work on the things that they want to address. And we work at their speed. We coach every level of player – from those who have never held a golf club before to somebody who has aspirations to earn a living in the game.

We like to make sure that the skills of the people we coach are improving and developing all the time – but also that they have fun. Golf needs to be something that people are keen to go out and work on and enjoy, both on the range and on the course.
At Gleneagles, we try to give all guests the “wow factor.” We make sure that our staff members are as engaging and personable as possible, so that it’s a very special experience every time somebody comes to Gleneagles.

All the developments that we’ve introduced to Gleneagles over the last decade or more have had one eye on The Ryder Cup. It’s going to be a massive highlight for Gleneagles to host such a prestigious event. But we’re also determined to make sure that whatever we do is sustainable beyond September – because we want our members and guests to keep on getting that special experience. ↑ [... less]

EY Ryder cup - Antonia Beggs

Antonia Beggs

Preparing for the unexpected at The Ryder Cup

Posted: 16 September 2014

Antonia Beggs is Operations Director for the 2014 Ryder Cup. She is responsible for coordinating the contingency plans.

I sit on 12 different sub-groups of contingency planning. It sounds like a lot, but when you think back to 2001, you remember that The Ryder Cup was postponed just a week before it was meant to happen.

People forget the bad weather we had in Ireland at the 2006 Ryder Cup. That is because it was so bad in Wales four years later. ↓ [... more]

But in 2006, two days before the start of play, we had a hurricane. The only hurricane Ireland seems to have had in 120 years, and it happened on the Wednesday evening of The Ryder Cup.

We had caterers and builders on site, fitting out structures so they would be ready to open the following day.

But they all had to be evacuated, because any building higher than one story was deemed unsafe. We had to evacuate the media center – that became unsafe.

I remember going onto the site at 4:00 a.m. on the morning after the hurricane and looking at the tented village that had looked so lovely 24 hours before.

All the signs and facades had come down, tents were hanging in trees. It was complete chaos. But we pulled together to make it safe and did what we could to make it look smart.

The high winds carried on. Play was delayed for a couple of hours on the Friday morning. We had to hold many spectators at the park-and-ride center, and then it just rained for three days.

That experience prepared us well for what was to come in Wales. The amount of resilience we had in place for bad weather at Celtic Manor was enormous.

We invested in walkways so that spectators could get around safely if it rained. And we booked an extra 200 double-decker buses, in case play stretched into the Monday – which it did. We had the Monday contingency plans prepared six months beforehand.

The contingency plans for Gleneagles were written in 2013. I wanted them to be written in the clear light of day, before we got too operational.

We have a crowd safety management and contingency plan. It's 160 pages, but none of it is waffle.

Every page has a sub-heading, which will say something like Lost Child Policy or Grandstand Collapse Policy. We must know what to do if the unthinkable happens.

The most important element of the plan is communication. Who tells who, and who says what to the outside world. There's nothing more frustrating for people than not getting information.

In the years between Ryder Cups in Europe, we refine our policies and learn from these other events. Thus we augment and enhance our Ryder Cup contingency planning.

We use outside experts, such as crowd safety consultants, health and safety consultants, and our insurers and risk assessors.

They sit on our risk assessment group and help us to write our contingency plans. My role is to take advice from around 40 trained experts and then bring it all together.

We test various scenarios. These sessions examine how we would react and show up any gaps in our contingency plans. ↑ [... less]

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]

Perspiration and inspiration

Posted: 14 March 2014

Antonia Beggs is Operations Director for The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. Her remit includes spectators, caterers, staff, television, security, transport and other outside-the-ropes issues.

I coordinate the unglamorous side of staging The Ryder Cup. There are many important preparations to make, and you have to make sacrifices. But it is so rewarding.

I chair the transport group, which includes the police, Transport Scotland, the Government and the emergency services. Each day, we expect 45,000 people to come to The Ryder Cup. Many will want to be on the first tee at 7:30 a.m. on the Friday morning, which presents a challenge for the rest of Scotland’s commuters. So the transport group must come up with a scheme that allows spectators to get to the course on time – and then get back to their homes or hotels on Friday evening when, again, the roads will be busy.

We’ll have 2,000 volunteers for The Ryder Cup from 26 different countries. They will do anything from ball-spotting to being on a park-and-ride bus, or briefing people about the glories of Scotland. ”↓ [... more]

Then there’s the tented village to design and build. On the course, we'll have five double-decker hospitality structures that need to be constructed, furnished, lit, powered and taken down again.

But it’s a truly inspirational sporting event. You can see the passion that spectators, players, volunteers, staff, everybody has for this event. It is truly magical.

When you go into meetings for the first time with stakeholders, such as local councils and the police, and say, “Right, we're going to deliver The Ryder Cup to Scotland,” you can see the passion it generates in them.

I wish I could bring the captains, Paul McGinley and Tom Watson, to one of the group meetings that I chair. I know Paul is very much aware of all the work that goes on behind the scenes but, nevertheless, I’d love to bring them in and say, “Guys, just have a look at this. See what it means and what these people are giving and how much they want to make it work for you.”

The team is so strong among the people from Ryder Cup Europe and the outside stakeholders. We all come together because we all have the same aim. It’s all about delivering and safeguarding the event and its incredible sense of sportsmanship.

What fosters this sense of teamwork among the organizers? We spend huge amounts of time away from home. It's a bit like working on a film set. We call it the “event bubble.” We start the build-up for The Ryder Cup in July and it finishes in November. Some of our operations team members are going to be there the whole way through. You’re sharing houses. You’re hanging up each other’s washing. Sharing and overcoming adversity – like the postponement of The Ryder Cup in 2001, the hurricane in 2006 and the torrential rain in 2010 – always brings people together.

Working on The Ryder Cup, people become genuine friends, not just colleagues. And I think that level of friendship is seen by all the other agencies with which we work. And, funnily enough, they end up becoming part of it too. ↑ [... less]

EY Ryder cup - Chris Sells and John Franks

Chris Sells and John Franks

A Ryder Cup numbers game

Posted: 8 September 2014

Chris Sells and John Franks run, a system that records and analyzes golf statistics. They are part of Paul McGinley’s backroom team before, and during, the 2014 Ryder Cup.

As golf performance analysts, we help players to understand their strengths and weaknesses in relation to their peers, and to build their game around their strengths.

Statistical data is gathered using and broken down into the different game areas – tee shots, approach shots, short game and putting, ready for analysis. ↓ [... more]

Patterns and trends are identified, and equipment performance is also checked carefully for potential defects.

Due to the complex interrelationships between the statistics, analyzing the data is a manual task.

And in providing feedback to players and their support teams, a number of variables are considered. This includes course management, fitness, psychological issues, pre-round warm-ups, and eating and drinking out on the course.

The keys are to identify slight improvements that may benefit their scoring, streamline tournament preparation. The intent is to remove the bias of opinions and emotions that so many players and coaches may have about their game.

Very importantly, each individual likes to receive and process information differently.

Some like to be bombarded with lots of data, while others like to be sent a short email telling them the three things they need to work on. And this tailor-made feedback is one of the keys to our long-standing working relationship with Paul McGinley, Europe’s 2014 Ryder Cup captain.

At The Ryder Cup, in our role as part of the captain’s backroom team, we know not to bombard Paul with lots of useless data.

He is likely to ask quick questions, potentially when the pressure is on. We will need to be ready with specific answers, based on evidence and facts.

We are well prepared, though, and have the expertise, experience and support of our long-standing IT partners, Logibase, behind us.

One thing is for sure, we are very much looking forward to the challenge. ↑ [... less]

Stats, not just instincts at The Ryder Cup

Posted: 29 April 2014

Chris Sells and John Franks run, a system that records and analyzes golf statistics. They will be part of Paul McGinley’s backroom team before, and during, The 2014 Ryder Cup. enables golfers of any standard to record and analyze their statistics. It is unique in its depth, flexibility and ease of use. It enables users to input full shot details, including the club used, intended target, approach distance, direction and end lie of the ball – as well as the length of putts. It’s almost like playing a computer game.

But there is a second side to the business, the consultancy, which is where the real expertise lies. We use, together with various other resources, to help professional golfers identify their strengths and weaknesses and prepare better for tournaments.

Since our establishment in 2003, we are proud to have worked with dozens of high-profile golfers, including several who have played for Europe in recent Ryder Cups. And the key to our success has been to tailor our service to the individual. ↓ [... more]

Some players require an in-depth understanding of their game, while others prefer simple instructions on what they need to do on the range. In addition to the players themselves, psychologists, fitness trainers, swing coaches, putting coaches, caddies and management companies all take an interest in the data and feedback.

We have worked with Paul McGinley for many years and, as European Ryder Cup captain, he has asked us to do three main jobs.

The first is to provide Paul with feedback on how the players are performing during the qualification process. We work hard to analyze data behind the scenes and then provide him with clear, relevant information. This enables Paul to use evidence as part of his considerations rather than relying purely on instincts – an approach that served him well in the past as a successful team captain at the Seve Trophy.

The second job starts once the teams are picked. At that point, Paul may request statistical information on how the players are performing and how they might match up as potential pairings. Again, this enables him to use evidence-based information as part of his considerations.

When the action starts, job number three is us being on-site at Gleneagles, performing numerous tasks and being ready to answer any questions that Paul may have.

So these really are exciting times, with anticipation growing as we draw closer to The Ryder Cup. ↑ [... less]

EY Ryder cup - David Garland

David Garland

Ryder Cup rules of engagement

Posted: 3 September 2014

David Garland is Director of Tour Operations at the PGA European Tour.

A captains’ agreement sets the rules and regulations under which the match is played. It is a public document that both captains sign.

It establishes the order of play on the Friday and Saturday mornings – it’s the home captain’s choice whether it shall be fourballs or foursomes first. ↓ [... more]

The agreement sets guidelines on issues such as what happens if a player is late onto the tee, when the players can practice on the golf course, the pace of play and how we deal with bad weather.

The first draft is drawn up by Ryder Cup Europe and the PGA of America early in the year of the match. There’s a lot of dialog so we’re sure what each is proposing.

Once we have agreement, we then pass it on to the captains. If they’re unhappy with anything, or they want to change something, we have a debate about it – and eventually we reach a document that both captains agree to and sign.

Each venue in recent years in Europe has hosted a big tournament in the years running up to The Ryder Cup – like the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

These tournaments assist greatly in setting up the golf course for The Ryder Cup as we have had many years’ experience from the tournaments.
Paul [McGinley, Europe’s 2014 Ryder Cup captain] likes our normal European Tour set-up, that our guys play, week in, week out. And he understands that you can try to second guess yourself and make things too complicated when it comes to setting up the course.

Ultimately, the best players are going to win on the day – those who hole the putts and play the best. There’s very little between the teams, as we’ve seen in the results of the last few years. ↑ [... less]

Strength through adversity at The Ryder Cup

Posted: 13 June 2014

David Garland is Director of Tour Operations at the PGA European Tour.

The Ryder Cup is the European Tour’s major event. It’s a massive sporting occasion. To be involved in something like this is the pinnacle for those of us who organize it. And I think there is a strong team ethos that drives us to get the job done. This ethos has become even stronger in the last couple of home matches, when we have been hit by bad weather.

In Ireland, in 2006, storms came through on the Thursday night. It was so strong that some trees came down. So we had an important meeting at 5:00 a.m. with the police and the health and safety officials. We had to decide whether or not to open the gates and let in staff and the public. Were the tents safe? Should we delay things? ↓ [... more]

Four years later, there was a huge amount of rain at Celtic Manor. Should we close down some of the spectator walkways because it’s too muddy? Is it safe for the spectators to be on the side of the hills?
It’s difficult when you’re putting your boots on at 4:00 a.m. and they’re still wet because you only took them off at 11:00 p.m. the night before. But you go back out into the rain because things have to get done, and you want to pull together with your colleagues and go that extra mile.

It’s hard work.

I don’t know whether I would describe it as very enjoyable at the time – especially Celtic Manor, with all the bad weather – but it’s great to look back. But even at Celtic Manor there was a beautiful last day on the Monday. The sun was shining and we had a wonderful Ryder Cup spectacle, irrespective of the result.

We overcame the adversity. But nobody can do it themselves. No single department within the Tour can do it. You’ve all got to pull together in one direction. There’s a huge sense of achievement when you get through something like Celtic Manor. It is intense, but it is rewarding. And many of the people who have experienced these challenges are still involved. This is wonderful, because when you look around you are reassured to see very experienced people who have done it all before. We thrive off each other’s confidence and experience.

We diverted the money into putting a sub air system into the greens. They are just over 20 years old, and weren’t draining as well as they used to because they were getting older. The new system gives us the ability to pull moisture through the greens a lot quicker. And that’s made a big difference to the drainage.

Ultimately, I’m responsible for all the greenkeeping staff here. But the head greenkeepers manage their teams on a day-to-day basis. Knowing the guys here, the pride that they take in their work will be motivation enough. They all know what a thrill it is to work at a Ryder Cup venue. They’re getting excited about it. ↑ [... less]

Processing the pairings

Posted: March 2014

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

I manage the golf side of The Ryder Cup. For example, this involves working with the team captain and the agronomy teams at Gleneagles and the 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 Europe’s 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.
↓ [... more]

Halfway through the morning’s play on Friday, I will go out and find Europe’s 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 American 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 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 the captain know what the American choices are. ↑ [... less]

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]

Bringing it all together at The Ryder Cup

Posted: 7 April 2014

Edward Kitson explains his role as Europe’s Ryder Cup Match Director.

My role is to work under Ryder Cup Director Richard Hills and oversee all the operational and management details of putting the match together. I cover a number of different areas. For example, I’m the key person dealing with the venue at Gleneagles, and I’m one of a number of people who work closely with Visit Scotland and the Scottish Government. I also liaise with my American counterparts over the opening and closing ceremonies, the gala dinners and security.

One of my most important tasks is to coordinate the work of Ryder Cup Europe’s planning – such as the operations, sponsorship, media, merchandise and championship management teams. It’s my job to know what everyone is doing and make sure that they all work well together.

In 2001, the whole Ryder Cup site was built and ready for action. But, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, The Ryder Cup was postponed for a year. I was involved in dealing with all our different contractors and suppliers so we could rebuild the match for 2002. That was a unique experience. ”↓ [... more]

The Ryder Cup is a team match and we, as Ryder Cup organizers, work as a team. When there are competing demands, we look to make adjustments to find a solution. For example, the merchandise team might want to have the biggest possible tent on-site, but that might not be achievable because of all the other demands that we have on the space around the course and tented village. So I work on finding a solution that satisfies all parties. And this comes from negotiation and sensible discussion.

All of us who work on The Ryder Cup try to create the same atmosphere of team spirit that the players enjoy. And sometimes, we have to help each other out in different areas, prior to the match or during the match, when the stresses and strains are put on us.

I suppose others can judge, but if I've got a couple of good qualities, one is remaining calm under duress. I try to maintain an internal calmness when things get very difficult. Another is keeping the morale of the team up when some have had long and tiring days. It’s important for me to be chatty and give everyone some time and encouragement.

This applies not just to the team that works for The Ryder Cup, but also for all the contractors and suppliers. There are 6,000–7,000 contractors working behind the scenes at The Ryder Cup. So, for example, I need to keep in contact with the person who is running the catering, and make sure they are up to speed with all the information. I listen to them and provide support and encouragement.

The adrenaline I get when the week comes is enormous. The excitement and passion comes from years of hard work. I’ve been working on The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles for the best part of eight years. Seeing that come to fruition when the first ball is struck on the Friday morning will be an amazing experience. So much work, and so many sleepless hours, over the years culminate in that special moment.

And then comes Sunday evening, when the closing ceremony is concluded Again, hopefully, there is a sense of relief that the week has gone well, that all the team has worked together and that we’ve delivered a successful Ryder Cup. And, obviously, it’s always great if Europe can win! ↑ [... less]

EY Ryder cup - Heather Edment

Heather Edment

Connecting the community

Posted: 3 March 2014

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.

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?”↓ [... more]

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. ↑ [... less]

EY Ryder cup - Ian Plumley

Ian Plumley

The Ryder Cup’s eagle eye

Posted: 10 September 2014

As a TV spotter, the benefit of Ian Plumley’s work at this year’s Ryder Cup will be felt in living rooms across the world.

I’ll be at Gleneagles for the 2014 Ryder Cup working as a TV spotter. We follow the action closely and identify where each player has hit their ball.

We stand around 250 yards down the fairway on a long hole and watch the players drive. We’re wired up to the TV director, and we give them information that is crucial to the TV coverage. ↓ [... more]

We tell them who is next to play, so that the cameraman can focus on that particular player.

Then we move to the green, and we repeat the process. But here, we're identifying whether there's a birdie or eagle opportunity and, again, telling the TV control room which player is first to putt.

At the end of each hole, we report the scores back to the control room. Of course, there are scorers with each group, but sometimes the scorers come to us to double check.

Another part of the role is to make sure that balls from wayward shots are found. So, we have to rush across and identify or try and find the ball, often using the crowd to help us.

It’s hard work. You have to run ahead, so you can keep in front of play. Once the players you’re watching have hit their drives, you run on to the next vantage point.

It's quite intense, and you've got to get it right. You've got to feed accurate information back to the director so that the TV viewers can get the best possible coverage.

When you’re watching on TV and you see Sergio Garcia, for example, on the green, and the caption says, “Sergio Garcia. Birdie putt,” it’s because of people like me who tell the TV producer what to put on the screen.

So it’s a fairly important role. And we get a buzz from that.

The work is voluntary. It's just a hobby. You get great camaraderie with the other spotters and the marshals. It's hard work, but great fun. You don't get paid for it, but you do get pleasure.

After the round, we often sit with the commentators, some of whom are very famous ex-players. So it’s nice to be in that environment.

To do the job well, you need to be a golfer. You need to understand the game, its rules and technicalities. And you need to know the course you’re working on.

However, I’ve never been to Gleneagles. I’ve been preparing by watching fly-throughs. I’ve been thinking about which side of each fairway to walk up so that I can get the best view of the drives.

I'll be at Gleneagles on the day before play starts, so I will go out and walk the course. I’ll work out the little shortcuts that will help me to get to the next vantage point without hitting the crowds and getting stuck.

So, I'll walk the course – then probably have a sleepless night. ↑ [... less]

EY Ryder cup - Laura Gordon

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]

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]

Braving the elements at The Ryder Cup

Posted: March 2014

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

I started the Mobile Weather Team in 1991. We provide on-site weather forecasts and storm tracking to outdoor sporting events.

Golf has always been a passion of mine. I knew that the sport was in need of minute-by-minute storm tracking and weather information. Officials need to know when lightning and other dangerous situations are likely to hit, so that they can make sure the players and spectators stay safe.

We have worked on all the major Championships, first in the US, and then at the Open Championship. Golf has been our primary focus, but we’ve also done NASCAR racing, tennis, baseball and soccer – and the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996. ”↓ [... more]

We bring our own lightning prediction system on-site at The Ryder Cup. This sophisticated equipment measures the buildup of electrostatic energy in the atmosphere, prior to lightning striking the ground. It gives us 10 to 20 minutes advance warning that lightning could strike the golf course. We can then notify the officials so that they can evacuate the course.

Our ability to predict lightning gives us a competitive edge. In addition to our lightning warnings, we can also predict heavy rain and flooding, strong winds and frost.

In 2010, when we were at Celtic Manor, heavy rain was the issue. We had so much rain that some parking areas had to be closed. It affected the spectator walk areas outside the ropes. The organizers had to bring in wood chips and build bridges over little swales due to the standing water. They had to rope off certain areas so people wouldn’t walk through them. And they had to bus people in because the parking lots were flooded.

By knowing in advance that heavy rain was coming, the organizers were able to get truckloads of wood chips and gravel standing by. Everything was waiting, ready for action. The green staff had extra people on-site. They brought in extra squeegees to remove the water from the greens and pumps to get water out of the bunkers.

All this was done behind the scenes, and nobody ever really thought about it. If they only had the regular green staff, the course would not have been prepared in time. With the extra people and equipment, they were able to get the course ready for action. ↑ [... less]

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.

↑ [... less]

Style and substance at The Ryder Cup

Posted: 15 April 2014

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

For 27 years, Glenmuir has supplied the European Ryder Cup team’s shirts and knitwear. Our design team in Lanark, Scotland, has worked with successive European captains to design and craft the shirts and knitwear for the teams. The first tournament we were involved in was back in 1987, when Tony Jacklin captained Europe’s first winning team on American soil.

We are working to produce garments that not only look good but also perform in the intensity of one of the world’s greatest sporting competitions. First, our design team has to consider the technological specifications. When the event is in Scotland, the requirements are different from those in the US. Ultimately, the fabrics are more performance-based, with the shirts having superior characteristics. This makes them quick-drying, breathable and highly moisture wicking, so the European players are kept comfortable when they are out in the heat of competition.

Our knitwear is made from pure and resilient Scottish cashmere, with natural characteristics that make the garments breathable, lightweight and warm, so the players are kept insulated in the cool Scottish climate.” ↓ [... more]

So it’s not just style that’s important. It’s also comfort and playability. All three factors lead to performance.

We’ve worked with successive European captains since 1987. Some of them take a laissez-faire approach, while others are more hands-on. We’ve had a lot of invaluable input from Paul McGinley. It’s been a collaboration since the design process started at the beginning of 2013. He has a lot of ideas about the overall looks he’d like to achieve, while he takes Glenmuir’s own design expertise on board.

It’s an iterative, back-and-forth process, with our design team liaising with production and sampling, and then sharing the designs with Paul for his feedback.

The first stage of manufacturing is getting the yarns together and ordering fabrics so we’ve got enough raw material. Then, once the team members have been confirmed, we take part in a fitting session with the players, and get the sizing requirements. Then we finalize the process of putting the garments together.

For all the meticulous planning, there are always last-minute issues for which you must be prepared. For example, in 2012 we had to fly our finest embroiderer out to Chicago to do some amendments to the embroidery.

We produce six different polo shirt designs and six different sweater designs, so each team member will have a fresh new outfit for each day. Depending on the captain’s requirements, the sweaters are supplied as V-necks, zip necks and slipovers, in the selected design for each day. So the players can choose which garment to wear depending on their individual preferences and the weather.

We’re keeping this year’s designs very much under wraps. But we can safely say that, together with Paul, we have taken great inspiration from Scotland. ↑ [... 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.

↑ [... less]

Fit for purpose at The Ryder Cup

Posted: 21 May 2014

Roger Hawkes is Chief Medical Officer of the European Tour.

I’m responsible for the medical issues that arise on the European Tour. My team and I provide specialist sports medicine cover at most Tour events. And, for The Ryder Cup, I’m the European team doctor.

One of the most important medical issues to deal with during the week of competition is trying to stop the players from getting so called “trivial” infections. This might sound minor, but if you’re ill and you can’t play in your singles match, that might be the difference between winning and losing The Ryder Cup.

And many players have their family with them, including children, so infection is a real worry. We take a lot of preventative measures. We use lots of hand gel and make sure that those with infections are kept well away. There’s also real medical interest in how Vitamin D deficiency can reduce resistance to infection. So we’ll look at Vitamin D levels in the players. ↓ [... more]

As well as my involvement in golf, I work for the National Health Service, Derbyshire County Cricket Club, the military and a private clinic in Staffordshire. I have also worked with Birmingham City Football Club, and I was in the Polyclinic sports medicine department at the London Olympics.

It is important to be experienced if you’re going to deal with big names in sport. You also need to know the sport and the sportsmen, as well as being very competent at examination and clinical assessment.

At The Ryder Cup, we try to create a relaxed environment for the players. The physios are familiar to the players. Many of the physios are a similar age to them, so there’s a good rapport. There’s often a lot of laughter and jokes. The players, who are in a stressful situation, know that they can come to the physio room and just relax and let it go for a bit.

When it comes to players’ lifestyles, like most other sports, in golf today there is much more professionalism than there used to be. They keep fit – they’re in the gym, they’re doing warm-ups, they’re practicing in a much more scientific manner. As for the players who make the team, they understand their responsibilities. They’re very professional.

I’m in close proximity to the players during the match. There are only a small number of people in the team area, including the physios and me as team doctor. There’s great camaraderie and team spirit. I’ve seen the importance of team spirit, such as the Saturday night in Medinah when Ian Poulter made all those crucial putts and the whole match changed. To be part of something like that is very memorable.

When you see the power of that team spirit, you are inspired to try and put something similar in place wherever you work. And that’s what I try to do in my other places of work. ↑ [... 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]

EY Ryder cup - Scott Fenwick

Scott Fenwick

Setting the Ryder Cup stage

Posted: 11 September 2014

Scott Fenwick is Golf Courses and Estate Manager at Gleneagles.

We brought an architect on site to look at redesigning some of the holes, to bring them more into line with modern-day golf. We worked with that architect for five years or so, and then we went back to working with Jack.

It was great to work with Jack. He came over to see us in June 2011. First, he quickly surveyed the course to refresh his memory of what was here. ↓ [... more]

He looked at the work that we had already done with the previous architect, and he was happy with what had been carried out.

Then, he went all the way around the course again, looking at all 18 holes in more detail. And from that, he came up with his thoughts on what we needed to do.

The biggest, most dramatic, of his proposals were the changes to hole number 18.

As it was, the par five 18th didn’t offer any real strategic options. You simply teed off, laid up with your second shot and then it became a pitching competition.

Jack wanted to make a dramatic change to 18, to make it more of a challenge. We all agreed. We left it as a par five, but totally changed how the hole plays.

We brought the tees forward 20 meters and raised them by 2.5 meters, which created an elevated platform from which to play.

We added a bunker at the right side of the landing zone to define the turn of the hole. If you hit the right shot, you would carry over it and land in the perfect spot on the fairway.

From the landing zone toward the green, we dug the fairway out five meters, shifting 50,000 tons of soil. We put it all down the left-hand side to increase the spectator mounding.

We created a slightly elevated green, moved it further forward and turned it 90 degrees across the hole, so it now plays up and down the hole.

It’s on a little plateau now, with big swales off to the left and right, and it’s heavily bunkered.

The effect of all this is to give the player the option of attempting to reach the green in two. But, unless you hit the perfect second shot into the green, you catch the swales and bunkers on either side.

In recent years, The PGA Centenary Course has hosted the Johnnie Walker Championship on the European Tour. From speaking with players who took part, they have had really good things to say about the changes made.

Dropping the fairway down and building up mounds to the side has created a big amphitheater around the hole.

The players are quite low down. And, in contrast, once all the grandstands are set up, we’ll get even more height for the spectators. There should be quite some atmosphere when the players come up the 18th. ↑ [... less]

Team for the greens at The Ryder Cup

Posted: 04 June 2014

Scott Fenwick is Golf Courses & Estate Manager at Gleneagles.

I’m responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of all the outside areas at Gleneagles. This includes the three golf courses, the gardens and a lot of grounds on the estate.

I came into the business as an apprentice greenkeeper many years ago, and I’ve been working at Gleneagles now for 34 years. If you want to go all the way through college, then you’re talking the best part of six years in total to qualify. There’s a lot of on-the-job training. We use specialist, high-tech kits, and it takes a lot of skill to operate it. Attention to detail is critical in this job.

We have a team of 54 greenkeepers, 8 gardeners and 2 estate workers. The greenkeepers are split into two teams: one looks after the King’s and Queen’s Courses, the other works on The PGA Centenary Course and the Golf Academy. The latter team is led by Steve Chappell, who is head greenkeeper of The PGA Centenary Course, where The 2014 Ryder Cup will be played. ↓ [... more]

In total, there will be 80 people working on The PGA Centenary Course during Ryder Cup week. That’s members of our team, along with 40 volunteer greenkeepers. Volunteers are coming from all over the world. We’ve got people coming from Iceland and Barbados, for example, and some all the way from Australia.

One of our previous head greenkeepers is now a golf course manager at St. Andrews. He’s coming back to help us. In fact, we’ve got quite a few ex-Gleneagles guys returning for the week.

We’ve carried out a lot of drainage work on the golf course, not just on fairways and greens, but in areas where spectators will move about. We’ve put a lot of heavy sand in, and that’s helping to improve the drainage of the course.

We’ve looked at how we can improve our bunkers. And we put a product into them that is basically a gravel liner sprayed with a polymer. All the water travels through the gravel, and that stops washouts in the sand. It prevents contamination, and it also stops the bunker from flooding. So we can take a lot of water in our bunkers.

A few years ago, we looked at putting a new irrigation system into the golf course. It was almost signed off but, given the changing weather patterns, we made a conscious decision to improve the irrigation system that was there.

We diverted the money into putting a sub air system into the greens. They are just over 20 years old, and weren’t draining as well as they used to because they were getting older. The new system gives us the ability to pull moisture through the greens a lot quicker. And that’s made a big difference to the drainage.

Ultimately, I’m responsible for all the greenkeeping staff here. But the head greenkeepers manage their teams on a day-to-day basis. Knowing the guys here, the pride that they take in their work will be motivation enough. They all know what a thrill it is to work at a Ryder Cup venue. They’re getting excited about it. ↑ [... less]