France will host The Ryder Cup for the first time in 2018. The historic announcement, which will see golf’s greatest team event return to the Continent of Europe for the first time in 21 years, was made by Ryder Cup Europe at Wentworth Club in Surrey, England.
Le Golf National on the outskirts of Versailles near Paris, the well-established home of the Alstom Open de France, will become only the second Continental venue – following Club de Golf, Valderrama, in Spain in 1997 – when the 42nd edition of The Ryder Cup between Europe and the United States is contested in the autumn of 2018.
A critical factor in favour of the French bid was the plan to build 100 urban golf courses, each with 6 to 9 holes, and to boost the number of registered French golfers from 400,000 to 700,000 by 2022. More than 400,000 members of the French Golf Federation agreed to support this bid.
Five nations – France, Germany, Holland, Portugal and Spain – had participated in an exhaustive and comprehensive Bid Process – the first conducted by Ryder Cup Europe – to identify the country best qualified to follow Medinah Country Club, Illinois, USA, next year; Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2014 and Hazeltine, Minnesota, USA, in 2016 as host of the biennial contest.
George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour – the Managing Partner of Ryder Cup Europe – made the official announcement at The Wentworth Club, a venue which in 1926 had staged an international match recognised as the forerunner to The Ryder Cup itself one year later.
Also in attendance were delegates from the five Bid Nations, the PGA of Great Britain and Ireland, the PGAs of Europe, high ranking officials from the world of golf and the media, as France received the seal of approval to host The 2018 Ryder Cup.
Richard Hills, Europe’s Ryder Cup Director, had led a four-strong Bid Committee, comprising 2018 Bid Director David MacLaren, Ryder Cup Match Director Edward Kitson and Financial Director Jonathan Orr, to examine and evaluate each Bid, including a series of thorough site inspections to the five countries who had confirmed their desire to stage The Ryder Cup in seven years’ time. A sixth, Sweden, had dropped out of the race in the spring of 2010.
The objective of the bid process was to enable Ryder Cup Europe to arrive at the correct sporting and commercial decision in terms of the host for 2018. To this end, the Bid Committee evaluated the five candidates on five specific criteria, namely:
(i) a commitment to the development of a world-class golf facility (new or existing);
(ii) provision of ancillary facilities, suitable access and infrastructure commensurate with the staging of an international sporting event;
(iii) demonstrable government , private sector and golfing community support;
(iv) commercial opportunities available to The Ryder Cup, and
(v) contribution of the bid country to the development of golf – for example: historical contribution to the professional game, golf tourism, development of levels of golf participation, professional tournament golf at all levels, player participation within past Ryder Cups, and legacy.
The Bid Committee was assisted significantly in their evaluation procedure by three prominent external advisers in Michael Payne, Jaime Byrom and Nick Bitel, who brought considerable experience from their specialist sporting backgrounds, namely the Olympic Movement, FIFA and the London Marathon respectively.
Earlier this year, all five nations signed Conditional Host Agreements and the fully binding legal contract with France was triggered immediately on the announcement that they have become the successful candidate for the 2018 match.
Hills commented: “We would like to congratulate France on becoming the host for The 2018 Ryder Cup, but more importantly, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to all the representatives of France, Germany, Holland, Portugal and Spain, who responded so diligently to Ryder Cup Europe’s bidding criteria and conducted themselves in a thoroughly professional manner throughout the most detailed evaluation process as we have ever embarked upon.
“At the outset, we gave the process the codename ‘Operational Level Playing Field’ and identified three key individuals in Michael Payne, Jaime Byrom and Nick Bitel, each of whom is highly respected in the business and sporting worlds. They brought their own unique brand of expertise to the table and we thank them for helping the Bid Committee identify the correct nation to host this prestigious match.”
Hills added: “We have one worthy gold medallist in France, who gave us the confidence to believe that they will stage a truly memorable Ryder Cup in seven years’ time. However, there are four impressive silver medallists involved in this extremely detailed process in Germany, Holland, Portugal and Spain, any of whom were also well positioned to host the 2018 event.
“France, as the successful nation, will now be entering into a multi-faceted relationship with Ryder Cup Europe, lasting a minimum of 12 years and benefiting many aspects of golf at all levels. All of us at Ryder Cup Europe look forward to working closely with the French Ryder Cup 2018 team in the coming years.”
France has hosted 118 European Tour, 60 European Challenge Tour and 12 European Senior Tour events. Ten French golfers have won 24 tournaments on The European Tour and 36 players have gained 51 wins on the European Challenge Tour while Thomas Levet and Jean Van de Velde have represented Europe in The Ryder Cup in 2004 and 1999 respectively.
Le Golf National, an impressive ‘stadium’ course which has received high praise over the past 20 years, will next month stage the 2011 Alstom Open de France for the tenth successive year and the 19th time in total since its inception 1991.
Le Golf National www.golf-national.com
Ryder Cup www.europeantour.com/rydercup/index.html