The Ryder Cup: Sport's Greatest Event Experience

Richard Dodgson
6 October 2014

There is nothing quite like the Ryder Cup in the sporting world; it only happens every two years, it unites people and it always delivers. The atmosphere is absolutely electric, driven by the team nature of the competition, and as a spectator you can't help but get drawn into the event, heckling, cheering and becoming extremely partisan, but in a generous and genuinely fun way that has no unpleasantness attached to it at all.

The pace of the three day tournament means that onlookers are hooked from the beginning. Rather than being drawn out over weeks, like the rugby, the Ryder Cup is over in just 72 hours leaving you wanting more. Naturally, the world's eyes are all fixed on the event and there is big pressure on the event organisers to ensure that everything runs smoothly especially with today's 24-hour news and the ever prevalent social media.

Personally, as an event, I think the Ryder Cup was a great success. There was a lot on offer for visitors including a huge shop, outdoor screens and seating areas as well as bars and food concessions stalls both in the village and on the course. The official Ryder Cup App made it easy for spectators to navigate the course and I also thought that the various interactive experiences, including those from Rolex and Johnnie Walker were a nice touch.

However if I was running the event, I would bring back the party tent that the Ryder Cup had at the Belfry in 2002 to unite people further. The tent was a great place to go to let your hair down for a couple of hours after walking round the course, watching the golf. The loud music and lights that played every time a putt went in was a great addition.

I would also cut down on some of the pomp and ceremony which did get in the way of the golf and the celebrations. The opening ceremony, although traditional, was a little longwinded with perhaps an unnecessary speech from Alex Salmond and performance from singer Amy McDonald. While it's clear that the opening ceremony is a major production, I think most people just wanted the golf to get underway!

Similarly the closing ceremony was a little drawn out. By this point, people just wanted to celebrate so it would have been better to save the talking for the press conference. If I was organising the closing ceremony, I would plan two ceremonies depending on whether Europe or the USA wins. I would have a system more similar to football where both teams are celebrated; the losing team would collect their runners up medal, followed by winning team who celebrate with the trophy and champagne - rather than having the losing team just slink off like at Gleneagles.

It was also rather awkward to watch the European team standing during Beethoven's Ninth for the European anthem. The players' faces really said it all and it just didn't work because it had no obvious relevance to the European team.

As Tom Watson said about the Ryder Cup: "As captain you are the stage manager. You set the stage for the players, for the actors, to go and perform."

This is exactly what the Ryder Cup is, an incredible event that unites countries.

Originally published by The Huffington Post
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