Scotland business

Scotland Ryder Cup campaign stepped up

Ryder Cup
Image caption Scotland is keen to get its hands on the economic benefits brought by the Ryder Cup

Organisers of the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles are stepping up public awareness of what's coming our way, as the preceding tournament takes place near Chicago next month.

On Monday, the full European team playing the United States at golf will be announced by captain Jose Maria-Olazabal.

And one feature of the event itself will be the handover of the "friendship putter" from one host to the next.

But there will also be a passing of the commercial torch.

Alex Salmond, Scotland's first minister, is expected to attend the Ryder Cup at Medinah in Illinois, with a marketing team from Scotland hoping to reach spectators and to use the worldwide TV audience, estimated at 600 million, to promote what Gleneagles will have to offer in two years.

VisitScotland's presence is set to include cultural figures such as Julie Fowlis, the singer who features on the film soundtrack of Brave.

The pitch is part of the tourism agency's "winning years" strategy building around the Disney-Pixar animated film, a further Homecoming Year and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, which take place two months before the Ryder Cup dates of 26-28 September 2014.

Spectator spending

That's also the message being taken to Gleneagles this week, during the four days of the Johnnie Walker Championship, which starts today.

It will be a test of new technology being used on Gleneagles' PGA Centenary course that regulates the level of moisture on the greens, and also drains bunkers with the Billy Bunker membrane. Golfing great and course designer Jack Nicklaus is making adjustments to the course ahead of the 2014 event.

The claim from the Scottish government and from the organisers, the European Tour, is that the Ryder Cup can achieve £100m direct impact from the event.

That would be a big lift from the estimated effect of the Celtic Manor event in Wales in 2010, which was seen to have a £54m benefit.

Image caption The Scots government has already begun promoting Gleneagles ahead of the 2014 Ryder Cup

Of that, £37m was from spectator spending, with £6m more spent on hospitality by 170 companies hosting guests. Volunteers spent £1.3m on being at the event, and £9m came from contractors.

There was reckoned to be a wider impact on the rest of the UK worth an additional £28m.

Players compete for their team and the glory rather than prizes, but there's a big financial prize for the partnership of the European Tour, with 60% of the joint venture, the Professional Golfers Association of the UK and Ireland which has 20%, and a further 20% is held by the PGA of the rest of Europe.

The European organisers had turnover of £65m when the tournament went to Celtic Manor in 2010, from which they turned a £10m profit.

They have the rights to sell worldwide TV rights, with the exception of North America, where the Professional Golfers of the USA have sold them to NBC and ESPN.

Sky TV has bought the rights to UK coverage, with the BBC paying to broadcast highlights. Organisers are not saying what has been paid for that package.

The event also brings in major sponsorship deals, with three of the top six partners already named as BMW, Rolex and drinks giant Diageo.

Corporate hospitality is be made available soon, with 3,000 places each of the four days, in addition to 42,000 other spectators.

Image caption The 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris is tied to a pledge on building new golf courses

The next steps include a start to the process of recruiting volunteers, soon after the Medinah event.

Ryder Cup director Richard Hills said the experience of the London Olympics taught valuable lessons, and he hopes his organisation can work with the Commonwealth Games on co-ordinating volunteer activity.

He also said the organisation was seeking out local procurement for the goods and services it needs.

While the Olympics and Commonwealth Games are tied in closely with regeneration in east London and east Glasgow, the Ryder Cup does not offer the same built legacy.

The Gleneagles event is, however, tied in to a Scottish government commitment, with the Scottish Golfing Union, to ensure all Scottish children have a chance to try out golf.

Organisers say 220,000 children have already been through the schools programme, with more than 1500 volunteer coaches.

By contrast, the 2018 Ryder Cup, in Paris, is tied to a pledge to build golf courses close to the heart of France's major cities.

Infrastructure around Gleneagles is also being improved, including the condition of Gleneagles railway station, with better access roads for the A9 near the hotel and golfing resort.

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