The Ryder Cup golf tournament ranks among the world’s biggest sports by TV audience and in 2014 a predicted 250,000 visits will be made to watch the action – between teams from the USA and Europe – at Gleneagles in Perthshire. On each of the three days of competition (26-28 September), some 45,000 people will be admitted to the PGA Centenary Course at the famous hotel to see if Europe can hold on to the Cup.
These statistics were presented to a group of STGA guides during their recent CPD visit to Gleneagles in order to emphasise the importance of Scotland hosting the Ryder Cup in such a busy year for the country’s tourism. Our guides may or may not be involved directly in delivering golf fans to Gleneagles but they all need to be aware of the scale of this event which will obviously affect accommodation and transport in the central Highland region in September.
In addition to the practical information, guides were inspired by videos and photos of previous Ryder Cups, especially the most recent “Miracle at Medinah” in 2012 when the European team staged a thrilling come-back to take the Cup on the final day. The Cup has been held since 1927, crossing the Atlantic every two years, and was last held in Scotland at Muirfield back in 1973.
As a famous golf hotel, Gleneagles has a pedigree similar to the Ryder Cup, and a review of the hotel history was an important – and fascinating – component of this CPD which was organised by the STGA’s Highlands & Islands Branch with the help of Iris Marhencke, an executive at Gleneagles and herself a Blue Badge guide.
Iris traced the “vision” for a golf resort in the Highlands.
back to founder Donald Matheson and the grand opening of the hotel (with its unique train station) in 1924. She then brought us up to date with recent developments which have turned Gleneagles into a fully fledged, international resort offering many sports and outdoor activities to a mixture of domestic and international guests, with an increasing emphasis on families as well as adults. We were given a tour of the latest facilities and rooms which have been refurbished to celebrate the hotel’s 90th year as well as preparing to host Ryder Cup participants.