10:07pm Saturday 25th September 2010
By Michael Duffy
By late Spring 2000 we were preparing for our first test, by staging the inaugural Wales Open with a field of 168 golfers, £1.25 million prize money and big names including Seve Ballesteros, Ian Woosnam & Sam Torrance.
I had been heavily involved with responsibilities for arrangements for the players accommodation and social programme, the corporate hospitality complex, social programme for the media representatives and staging the gala dinner for 700 the night before the tournament started.
As representatives from the PGA & Europeantour were attending alongside a Who`s Who of Welsh Government Ministers and Welsh sporting legends like Gareth Edwards were attending the gala dinner we made sure the menu included lots of leeks and other local produce and I had a 40 strong male voice choir to welcome the guests and Welsh legend Max Boyce to entertain.
The dinner went well though Max was a tad enthusiastic and we practically had to hook him off after 50 minutes.
The following 4 days of the tournament I survived on adrenalin from an early morning start to check over the hospitality units, re-arranging table plans so last minute VIP`s were allocated window tables overlooking the 18th green, welcoming guests throughout the day, spending time with my 4 sales managers and their invited guests and après golf finishing by sinking pints with journalists like Tim Glover & David Facey……….I loved it
The first tournament was deemed a success with over 40,000 attending though there was some fairly strong criticism from the players on some aspects of the course and its abilities to host an event like The Ryder Cup.
The course was long at 7,200 yards and in addition there was a further 1,000 yards of walking between greens to the next tees. It was also a tough course as the last 5 holes were all uphill and as tournament golfers and their caddies are not allowed to use golf buggies there were major concerns about the first 2 days of The Ryder Cup where players have 2 matches ie 8 and a quarter miles to cover.
We also realised that we had logistical problems as though The Wales Open hospitality complex easily fitted alongside the 18th green with plenty of space to expand and take on more marquees it just wouldn`t work for The Ryder Cup.
Most tournaments are stroke play where the winner is the golfer who takes fewest shots or strokes over 18 holes, however The Ryder Cup is matchplay where each hole is decided on the basis of fewest strokes played on that hole.
In theory one player could win the first 10 holes and it would be game over as even if the opponent were to win the remaining 8 holes he couldn`t win the match, in this case the result would be 10 and 8 ie 10 holes up with 8 to play.
We analysed results from previous Ryder Cups and learnt that in practice the majority of matches finished on the 16th green, in other words that`s where we needed to focus attention on having spectator stands and hospitality marquees.
Only problem was the 16th played uphill and onto a green that was surrounded by woodland, there was also literally a hop skip and a jump onto the 17th tee with no space to handle spectators who like to walk round with the golfers
One last small problem was the other countries who were bidding were becoming aware of some of our drawbacks and were starting to mount a media campaign highlighting them.
Tomorrow I`ll tell you about the tactics used as the gloves came off.
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