Ryder Cup: Signed, sealed, delivered

Team Europe took back the Ryder Cup title beating Team America in an unforgettable finale, Meanwhile, the organisers of the 2010 event fought their own battle – the weather

Team Europe battled through the elements last month, declaring war on their American counterparts and regaining the prestigious Ryder Cup. Despite Team Europe’s brave and victorious win, event professionals watching the highly anticipated golfing action would also declare Team Event the winner, with its organisers, suppliers and hospitality providers pulling out all the stops to ensure minimal disruption and a safe event.

Unforgiving periods of torrential rain crashed down on spectators at Celtic Manor Resort, Wales; the redesigned Twenty Ten course taking a battering from the elements, and on occasions looking more like a paddling pool.

The relentless downpours and decision to cancel play on more than one occasion led spectators and pundits to raise just one question, over and over again. Why did the Ryder Cup choose to play golf in Wales, in October? It was bound to rain, they said. Now, professionals are beginning to question the Ryder Cup’s choice of Gleneagles in 2014, when the tournament is scheduled to happen later in the year.

George O’Grady, chief executive of the European Tour, says that the decision of when to hold the event is based upon the availability of the players, an issue which is more of a problem in the USA and one that the PGA and TV schedulers have promised to address.

Scheduling issues aside, the inclement conditions failed to dampen the spirit of the spectators, despite being told to wait in their cars for hours on end at the East and West park and ride venues when the site was closed to golf fans over fears for health and safety.

For the first time in the event’s history, the weather forced organisers to extend into an extra day, with suppliers pulling out all the stops to accommodate extra hospitality requirements and rearrange load out schedules.


Owen Brown erected three Absolute double deck pavilions totalling over 5,000sqm on the Twenty Ten Golf Course. The structures were used for The Kidwelly private hospitality suite located above the 16th green and fairway as well as The Caerphilly private hospitality suite and The Conwy Club, a shared restaurant facility, both located above the 17th green.

All of the Owen Brown structures being supplied were constructed on raised platforms to guarantee guests unrivalled views of the action on the course.

The Arena Group also distinguished itself supporting the organisers in delivering a memorable 2010 Ryder Cup, shining through the rain, wind and mist to install a wide range of temporary event overlay at this international sporting spectacle.

Arena Group event teams installed pristine triple and double decker hospitality structures overlooking the 18th green, media facilities, all 19 temporary spectator seating grandstands, over 60 on-course event structures and furniture to all areas of the Celtic Manor.

Arena Structures’ 18th green triple deck Harlech Pavilion, with adjacent double deck Horizon Past Captains and Captains lounge, was the courses’ facility overlooking the 18th green. This exclusive 7,375m² hospitality structure hosted the Ryder Cup and partners, BMW, Citi, Rolex, Emirates, KPMG, and Past Captain Club, providing luxurious hospitality environments with unrivalled views onto the 18th Green and the stage housing the opening ceremony and closing presentation to the victorious European team.

Arena Structures project manager James Thomas says: “Since securing the contract I have worked alongside project director Ron Smith in fulfilling the requirements for the Ryder Cup and the tournament partners, with Arena Seating’s Bradley Merchant managing all temporary spectator seating on the course. Environmental considerations were a key priority for the Ryder Cup, and in addition to preserving the integrity of the course we are very proud to have been part of the team to deliver the greenest ever Ryder Cup, introducing a range of environmental initiatives.

“We began building 10 weeks ahead of the tournament and our experienced team displayed their logistical prowess in following a carefully planned logistics schedule through some testing weather conditions, to install the 150 artics of equipment required to construct this most extensive overlay project of the year.

“The European Ryder Cup team spirit was amazing to clinch the exciting last day, and when the weather forced the tournament into an extra day the team spirit within the suppliers was also evident. Spaceworks and Arena Structures staff joined the PGA team working into the night to reconfigure hospitality areas ready to receive guests on the extra Monday.”

The Ryder Cup was transmitted into 680 million homes worldwide, and with coverage so important to the sport and its sponsors, looking after the media was a key priority. Arena Structures supplied the main media facility, a 30 x 50m TFS structure that housed 1,000 international media feeding the global passion for live scores and stories following this unique sporting occasion.

The Ryder Cup project required months of attentive advance planning, with Arena Seating’s project director Bradley Merchant and newly promoted project manager Sam Feaviour walking the course to consider grandstand positioning with the Celtic Manor, Sky and Ryder Cup management in 2009. A range of spectator grandstand designs were clearly required, but the weather made its first impact on the tournament when Feaviour was due to survey the course in January; and with the whole of the UK under a blanket of snow it was March before that was feasible.

“We were comfortable the delay wouldn’t affect things, says Merchant. “At the earliest opportunity Sam plotted the topography at all of our sites around the course, achieved in one day using our new GPS survey tool. This new technology constituted a considerable investment for Arena Seating, measuring and recording to within 1cm accuracy to save a considerable amount of manpower at the time and subsequently. The information is used by our in-house CAD team of engineers to design each temporary grandstand with accurate calculations and place structures in the context of the course with 3D visuals for clients. This makes a significant difference in ensuring designs are appropriate and approved by everyone. The GPS mapping was key in improving efficiency in several areas such as minimising journeys and undoubtedly contributed to our reduced carbon footprint.”

Arena Seating’s crew chief Robert Green started the build six weeks ahead of the tournament, with a team of 14 experienced seating professionals building a very diverse range of Ryder Cup spectator grandstands. The gargantuan 1,900 capacity located at the back of the 18th green was built on a slope which meant the rear right corner was 17.5m high, while the 1,500 capacity 1st tee horseshoe shaped grandstand was designed to create the atmospheric cauldron that surrounded the players starting their rounds. Around the course, tiered seating was located near lakes and on steep slopes, all carefully planned to give fans optimum viewing experiences overlooking the greens and tees.

Screen stars

Creative Technology (CT) also supported 2010 Ryder Cup organisers in producing a ground-breaking international sporting event, introducing innovative technology to enhance the experience for the players, live audience and international media transmitting the tournament to 680 million homes worldwide.

CT has supplied every European Ryder Cup since 1985, but this was the first time the organisers have contracted the company to provide all of the on-course video facilities. This extended from the 16 screens and 450 plasma screens in offices and hospitality suites to the generation and distribution of real-time graphics and scores, mixed with live camera action and other event critical data, all tailored to each screen via a 30km fibre optic cable network running through the course.

In the two weeks prior to the commencement of play, CT project manager Jilon Miah with a crew of eight engineers installed 15 LED screens around the course, with a total screen area 569 square metres. From compact 10 square metre to giant 120 square metre screens, CT selected the most appropriate equipment ranging from Lighthouse, Mitsubishi, Panasonic and Barco.

Safe and secure

G4S Events was appointed to provide a comprehensive range of security and crowd management services for the event too. The contract saw G4S commit 650 highly trained specialist event personnel as part of an integrated suite of stewarding and security services. G4S has been at the Celtic Manor site since early July preparing for the tournament and provided manned guarding and perimeter patrolling services since then. G4S is proud to report that approximately two thirds of its employees have been drawn from the local area.

When the competition teeed off the company provided a wide range of security solutions including ticket checking, bag and scanner searches, management of left luggage and mobile phone ticketing.

Midlands based security company, Detectnology was appointed to provide security equipment and technical support for this year’s event, working alongside G4S.

It installed Archway Metal Detectors, hand-held scanners and X-Ray equipment, which was deployed at key locations around The Twenty Ten Course and at the event Park & Ride sites, and has worked with the Ryder Cup previously, supplying equipment and technical support to the Ryder Cups both in 2002 at The Belfry and 2006 at The K Club in Ireland.

Dressed for the occasion

360 Creative Event Services has a long standing relationship with the PGA. For the Ryder Cup 2010, 360 were responsible for the design and creation of the International Pavilion, which was designed to offer standard ticket holders the choice of upgrading so that they had access to a dry venue to watch the matches on TVs, to sit down, to have a drink and something to eat. The double deck De Boer structure catered for 2,000 people and measured 60m x 20m.

The atrium of the International Pavilion was furnished with a four-metre high scale model of the Ryder Cup. The exact measurements were obtained by 360 – by contacting the company in New York that had made the original cup in1927. These measurements were loaded into a C&C routing machine and the cup was carved out of a polystyrene block and then painted. The atrium was also furnished with 3m x3m cubes with graphics depicting the captains of both teams.

The Pavilion had over 40 TV screens and a large theatre style screen to ensure that everyone could watch the golf in the dry. Bespoke seating was created to cater for groups of two, four and eight ­– based on the fact that most people would be with their golf partners, or in groups of eight (two car loads) to ensure that fans could sit together to watch the action. The circular “American dinner” style seating was custom built and positioned to allow fans to sit together and watch the action on their TVs.

360 also dressed around all of the hospitality structures and supplied over 600 planters and 400 table centres. Each of the table centres were replaced at least once (some every evening – depending on each customer’s requirements) so a minimum of 1,000 table centres would have to be supplied in total. Replacements could only be made once the day’s activities are finished so the 360 team were busy between 9pm and 7am.

In control

Also working on site for over three weeks were staff and engineers from Radio Links Communications, who were once again awarded the contract to provide radio, audio and CCTV facilities.

As well as providing a hotline for Colin Montgomerie and his rival captain Corey Pavin, as Europe took on the United States, radio communication kept both captains informed of the progress of their respective teams while out on the course. Engineers from Radio Links’ event division, Onsite Communications, were responsible for the installation of all two-way radio networks covering the challenging Celtic Manor course, which was specially designed to stage the 2010 Ryder Cup.

Radio Links MD, Barrie Litchfield, said: “The co-ordination of multiple radio channels for this exceptionally large event took the best part of six months to plan, with frequency co-ordination being an essential ingredient in keeping all radio communications at the event interference free.”

Radio Links also invested in new digital technology, which enabled it to install a wide area digital radio system and a network of wireless Panasonic CCTV cameras to beam back live images from all parts of the course, to the security control room.