The Ryder Cup is the biennial golf match contested between teams from Europe and the United States and this year the 2016 matches will take place at the Hazeltine National Golf Club, Minnesota at the end of September. However, preparations for the 2018 Ryder Cup, to be played at Le Golf National in Paris, are already well advanced, perhaps not surprising when one considers that the Ryder Cup is one of the biggest sporting events in the world.
It is not always appreciated just how much goes into hosting an event like the Ryder Cup. There is a huge commitment required from the host venue and the organisation, and the political support that is needed at local, regional and national levels is substantial. The requirements for a Ryder Cup bring a lot of different factors into the equation, over and above the typical needs for any other golf tournament. The design, or re-design, of the golf course is only one part of an extremely complicated and lengthy procedure that often requires years of planning.
The biggest difference between the Ryder Cup and any other golf tournament or championship is the scale of the operation and space, both inside and outside the golf course, is a vital factor for any potential venue. The Ryder Cup has more spectators, more hospitality covers, a greater media presence and a massive TV audience which needs a vast broadcasting operation. Tournament staging takes months to set up and usually a new or upgraded road network is needed to allow trucks, cranes and other vehicles to access and move around the course.
At Le Golf National they have already installed or renewed twelve kilometres of paths and roads in readiness for the Ryder Cup staging and space has been prepared between holes to accommodate all the hospitality and refreshment areas which are part of the Ryder Cup. For the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor Resort some 600 metres of platforms were constructed to house hospitality units looking across the final three holes with additional units in and around the spectator village supplying a total of 12,000 guests daily.
Spectators at the 2010 Ryder Cup
During the Ryder Cup there is expected to be 50,000 or more spectators watching only four matches at any one time over the first two days. As a comparison, at an Open Championship there are around 35,000 to 40,000 spectators a day but they have the opportunity to watch upwards of fifty matches on the first two days. At the Open this means spectators tend to be more spread out across the course while at a Ryder Cup they are concentrated into a smaller area.
Because of the numbers of spectators there is a great deal of thought put into planning spectator movement around the golf course during the Ryder Cup matches whilst giving them every opportunity to see as much golf as possible, particularly over the last few holes where the excitement is reaching its peak. Providing good natural viewing areas is a considerable advantage and it also saves having to erect a large number of grandstands. On the Twenty-Ten Course at Celtic Manor the last three holes were laid out along the edge of a hillside which allowed huge viewing areas to be created on the high side of these golf holes. The Albatros Course at Le Golf National has mounding along both sides of many its fairways and I am certain that it will also provide an excellent spectator experience.
2010 Ryder Cup Staging
At the two most recent Ryder Cup matches in Europe, at Celtic Manor and Gleneagles, a park-and-ride scheme operated and most spectators arrived at the course on buses from off-site parking areas. This makes it much easier to control traffic flows near the venue and improves the arrival experience for spectators. However, it does require an appropriate road network and space on or very near the golf course for at least one large bus terminal to serve as a drop-off and pick-up area. Additional preparations also have to be made to transport the thousands of staff who are required for a sporting event of this scale.
Since 1997 the staging of the Ryder Cup has also put sustainability at the heart of the process and it is now recognised as one of the world’s leading sustainable events. Ryder Cup Green Drive is led by GEO and aims to make every effort to integrate sustainability across the venue, staging and legacy and also generate significant benefits to both the community and the environment.
Staging a Ryder Cup is huge undertaking but can bring substantial rewards in terms of raising golf’s profile, bringing economic benefits to the local region and putting the golf course venue on the sporting map.
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