As entries open for the Sport Industry Awards 2020, we're going Behind the Awards to take a look back at the winners over the last few years. What made them successful? How do they stand out from the crowd? And what has life been like since they picked up the award?
This time we’re talking to Guy Kinnings, Ryder Cup Director, European Tour. The 2018 edition of the Ryder Cup won Event of the Year at the Sport Industry Awards 2019.
What did it mean to the European Tour to win Event of the Year at the Sport Industry Awards 2019?
We were extremely proud to receive the Event of the Year Award at the Sport Industry Awards earlier this year. It was a reflection on the incredible effort of the many people who were involved in the remarkable success that was The 2018 Ryder Cup - from the players and backroom staff, to the event team and every single person who helped make it a truly world-class sporting occasion.
What work do you think helped The 2018 Ryder Cup stand out among the crowd?
It was only our second time hosting The Ryder Cup in continental Europe and we knew Paris was going to provide an iconic backdrop. But the atmosphere created by the fans – helped by the incredible golf on show – and the reaction from fans around the world watching on broadcast television, digital broadcasts and social media just served to underline what a global event this has become.
From the first tee shot, to the final putt, The 2018 Ryder Cup was a record-breaking and memorable occasion for all those present.
This was the first ‘home’ Ryder Cup under Keith Pelley’s tenure as CEO, what were the big changes made for the event?
It was Keith’s first home Ryder Cup as CEO, but he was of course in charge for our visit to Hazeltine in 2016. From day one Keith has been passionate about making the game of golf more exciting and accessible and that vision really came to fruition at The 2018 Ryder Cup.
The 19 jumbotron screens across the entire complex were an incredible addition for the spectator experience, as was the breathtaking first tee-18th green wraparound grandstand which was the biggest ever seen at a Ryder Cup. With two separate Spectator Villages, world-class entertainment, shopping and food, it was undoubtedly the greatest fan experience The Ryder Cup has ever seen.
The buy-in from the French public was incredible, but what did hosting a Ryder Cup in a non-traditional golf country teach you before Rome in 2022?
There is no doubt that hosting a Ryder Cup in France for the first time made it extra special and the buy-in from the French public was a huge factor in the event’s success as was emphasised by almost half the tickets sold going to a French audience, which helped create an extraordinary atmosphere.
Going to a non-traditional golf country lets you look at our sport and the whole occasion with fresh eyes and that is something we will definitely be looking to develop in Italy in three years’ time.
The Ryder Cup is arguably the European Tour’s biggest and most important property – how difficult is it to be innovative with such an important event?
We do not see the magnitude of The Ryder Cup as a barrier to innovation, but an opportunity. It is one of the biggest events in world sport, watched by millions upon millions of people around the globe and showing golf for what it is – thrilling, emotional and memorable.
Last year, we used this opportunity to introduce our GolfSixes format with the Junior Ryder Cup teams in the build-up to the main event. As well as having an event on our European Tour schedule in GolfSixes Cascais, this short, fun and inclusive format has also been embraced by grassroots golf throughout Europe and beyond.
The Ryder Cup is a vehicle for everything that is great about golf and we intend to continue capitalising on its popularity to build on our guiding principles of being innovative, inclusive and global.
What advice would you give to organisations thinking of applying to Event of the Year?
We would say go for it – anyone involved in the events business knows just how much tireless work goes on behind the scenes from so many people to make it a success. Winning this award provided a real boost to our whole team, a fitting reward for their herculean efforts.
Describe your Sport Industry Awards victory in 5 words…
Honouring a remarkable team effort.