The 2014 Ryder Cup video diary - Friday

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We soak in the atmosphere on the opening day of the 2014 Ryder Cup. Video by James Savage, words by Tom Irwin

My Ryder Cup record is not exactly Poulter-esque.  One practice day at the Belfry in 1993, aged 16, my only memory of which is watching Fred Couples miss the same 5 footer 10 times on the tenth green. So when the chance came up to attend this year’s renewal I jumped at it.  


We planned in some golf before the actual event, we always do. We conducted some planned and unplanned drinking in-between times, we always do. So by the time Thursday night comes round, we are not exactly ‘fresh’- still not to worry if we are in bed by 12 we should get a solid 4 hours kip.


Alarm is set for 4.30am. The journey to the 1st tee for the 7.35 start was not straightforward. 

1) We had to successfully exit our thoroughly locked up hotel 
2) We had to drive to Perth in the dark by 6am to get to the park and ride 
3) We had to deal with those people who wave you into car parking spaces, how would we park our cars without them? 
4) We had to make sure we had ID with us to get in 
5) We had to get across the course to the stand by the 1st tee, and we had to that before it was full.  

It was complicated, early, lengthy and stressful  – total journey time from bed to 1st tee: 1 hour 45 minutes.


But still, this was the Ryder Cup, this was once in a lifetime stuff, so we didn’t care we were having a great time, weren’t we?


We make it to the 1st tee by 7.10, wait half an hour in the gloom, watch all 16 players hit their tee shots, and from 400 yards away, complete the hole. 

Then they were off into the distance – total time watching golf:  40 minutes, less than  half the time it took us to get there. I can’t keep my eyes open, I am exhausted and all I want is coffee, a sit down and a TV to watch the golf on. All of which are freely available in my own house.


It is this balance of effort to get there, and what you take from being there that springs to mind nearly every time I attend a sporting event.


This summer alone, Tour De France in the Yorkshire Dales, camped overnight, sat on a hill for 3 hours – total amount of time watching bike racing: 2 minutes. Italian Grand Prix at Monza – walk from park and ride alone: 45 minutes, total amount of action on start finish straight: 0. Saturday of this year’s Lords test £200 train ticket – fell asleep for 4 hours.


Why do we do it? Why do we spend £1000’s on travel, accommodation, tickets, food, drink? 
The heightened sense of place, of being where it all played out, to even a tiny degree feeling what the players felt" Why do we tire ourselves out and cause ourselves great inconvenience to travel to watch sport which is undoubtedly best viewed from the comfort of your own sofa? 

Bragging rights? So we can say we have (literally and metaphorically) seen it, done it, bought the T-shirt. 

Surely we are not that vapid, that we hang our social hat on  the notion of ‘I was there’  like the bag tags of trophy courses on our golf bags. Maybe we do.


There is more too it though. As a spectator you are part of the event, your tears and cheers are what make it special, if you don’t care then what is the point. 

The hoards on the hills, and thousands through the turnstiles that is what separates an event like this from any other. 

You feel it more, you were there, it was in some small part yours, you will own that forever. It didn’t slip through your fingers and merge into just another Sky extravaganza this one was the one you were part of, that you felt as much as saw. 

The heightened sense of place, of being where it all played out, to even a tiny degree feeling what the players felt.


I giggled silently when Webb Simpson skied the opening driver, I saw Bubba whip up the crowd, I was there to be annoyed by the very odd choir on the 1st tee, I saw Poulter shank a fairway wood, Bjorn chip in and I got goose bumps when the 1st rendition of Euuuuuuurrrrrrrroooooooope went round.


So I am here, this is my Ryder Cup and we had better win, or I should have just watched it on telly.

For more on the Ryder Cup CLICK HERE

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