Four Scottish Golf Clubs have been rewarded for their efforts in building a legacy from The 2014 Ryder Cup by being awarded the title of Sky Sports ‘Ultimate Venues’.
St Fillans in Perthshire, Lothians club Pumpherston, Sandyhills in Glasgow and North East club Inverurie have been selected from the country’s near 600 golf clubs thanks to going the extra mile to stage Ryder Cup activity and develop the game at local level.
With Ryder Cup fever sweeping the nation ahead of next week’s contest at Gleneagles, clubs across Scotland are hosting numerous events, with the four clubs named ‘Ultimate Venues’ in conjunction with Sky Sports, the competition’s official broadcaster.
Each winning club is to receive a state-of-the-art 3D TV for their clubhouse, ensuring their club is the alternative place to be for those not attending at Gleneagles in person.
The Ryder Cup will also visit the four clubs, offering members and visitors the rare chance to have their photograph with the iconic trophy and attract more golfers to their club for the day.
Earlier this year, the Scottish Golf Union (SGU), Scottish Ladies’ Golfing Association (SLGA) and ClubGolf, in association with tourism agency VisitScotland, revealed that Scotland’s golf clubs would be given the opportunity to receive at least two tickets for The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, as well as the chance to be named an ‘Ultimate Venue’.
The ‘Ryder Cup Ready’ toolkit provided clubs and ClubGolf facilities with a guide featuring ideas on how to maximise the countdown to Scotland’s first Ryder Cup in 41 years, including building junior membership, retaining members, generating more clubhouse revenue, attracting new golfers and increasing visitor numbers.
Clubs were invited to apply for the tickets, which have been awarded by The Scottish Government as part of Scotland’s host nation allocation, based on running Ryder Cup-themed activity.
St Fillans, a picturesque 9-hole club situated in Perthshire, grasped the initiative last year, hosting an inter-club Ryder Cup-style competition with near neighbours Comrie. The match was again held this season and has cemented relationships between the clubs and driven media coverage for the club.
“We’re in Ryder Cup ‘county’, 20 miles from Gleneagles,” said Gordon Hibbert, Club Manager. “For us, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and we’ve sought to get into the Ryder Cup spirit as much as we can. It’s been good fun for both clubs, created excitement and a little bit of rivalry.”
In the East of the country, Pumpherston are hosting a series of Ryder Cup events, rounding off a successful season which has seen 131 new members join the West Lothian club, aided by their work with the SGU & SLGA on Business Planning.
“Last Saturday we held an informal Ryder Cup match with a local whisky company, 16-a-side, and then on the Sunday of The Ryder Cup we have a 50-a-side shotgun start, with Pumpherston Europe dressed in blue and Pumpherston America in red,” explains Richard Fyvie, General Manager.
“Our caterers are then doing European and American menus, with a raffle draw every 30 minutes for Ryder Cup memorabilia. For the tickets the club received for The Ryder Cup through our work, we held a prize draw with £150 of the money raised going to The Seve Ballesteros Foundation, which for us was a nice Ryder Cup link too.”
Over in the West, Sandyhills are hosting a Ryder Cup event for the third year in-a-row. A progressive club who have moved away from traditional methods, the day also involves two teams of 50, including men, women and juniors.
Carole Mason, the Sandyhills Captain, said: “We have a captain and vice captain for a European team and an American team, with team shirts and team rooms with music playing. It’s a fantastic day and we actually have a replica Ryder Cup trophy. We then have various activities in the clubhouse afterwards and have donated funds to our junior development.”
At Inverurie, a club who have staged ClubGolf junior coaching since 2007, there is also a real Ryder Cup buzz. As well as an eagerly-awaited team match on the Sunday of The Ryder Cup, the club will be showing the live action from Sky Sports in the clubhouse, with special European and American menus for the week of the event.
“We’re encouraging as many people along to the club as possible,” said Inverurie’s head professional, Steven McLean. “Our members are also looking forward to a Europe v America match on the Sunday morning of The Ryder Cup. It’s all about enjoying a great occasion for Scottish golf.”
Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, lead agency for delivering The 2014 Ryder Cup on behalf of Scotland, said: “I’m delighted to see these four golf clubs, as well as many more throughout Scotland, participating in fantastic activity to celebrate and welcome The 2014 Ryder Cup.
“It is vital that we use The Ryder Cup to build a strong and positive legacy of participation in the game and this kind of activity will help drive new interest in golf and hopefully translate into more members at clubs up and down the country.”
Hamish Grey, Chief Executive of the Scottish Golf Union, added: “The SGU and SLGA would like to thank the golf clubs all across the country who have participated in Ryder Cup activity, capturing the spirit of the event during a wonderful time for Scottish golf.
“We hope members and visitors alike have enjoyed taking part in events at local club level, helping leave a legacy of the Ryder Cup across Scotland. Well done to the four club winners, St Fillans, Pumpherston, Sandyhills and Inverurie.”
Scottish Golf Union www.scottishgolf.org