By Jim Ward President of Premier Golf
Now the Ryder Cup competition was getting intense. After a tie in
1989, the last three matches were decided by just one point each. For the first
time ever, in 1997, the Ryder Cup was held on the European continent at
Valderrama Golf Club in Sotogrande, Spain. Premier Golf had some additional
challenges with this one; language, culture and limited accommodations. In
order to accommodate the incredible demand for packages we chartered two large,
luxury cruise ships.
|Seve with the Cup |
On the Concorde
In 1997, Premier Golf was also given the responsibility of chartering
the Concorde to transport the Ryder Cup team to Spain. By agreement with the
PGA, we provided 50 seats for the official Ryder Cup party. The remaining 50
seats we packaged with luxury hotel accommodations, rounds of golf and a black
tie dinner with the Ryder Cup team. My wife and I were on board to serve as
hosts for our guests.
We met in the British Airways first class lounge at Kennedy Airport
prior to departure. The Ryder Cup team came in and they couldn’t have been more
sociable, chatting with our guests and posing for photos. About halfway through
the flight, Tom Kite, Ryder Cup captain, got on the intercom and announced;
“Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention. We’ve been doing some
calculating up here and we’ve decided that if we were to putt a ball from the
front of this plane to the back, as fast we’re traveling, the ball will have
gone over 20 miles. I’ve got Brad Faxon, my best putter, up here to prove it”.
Well, that’s exactly what they did. Faxon putted a ball down the aisle
and passengers were using hands and feet to keep it moving all the way to the
back. Afterwards, Kite retrieved the ball, signed it and presented it to
European Captain Seve Ballesteros who greeted us when we arrived in Spain.
Pretty hard to top that Ryder Cup memory.
|Team Europe 1997|
Another one point
The U.S. was down by 5 points after the first two days. They staged a
furious rally in the Sunday singles matches but came up one point short, 14.5
to 13.5. Now, it’s back to the U.S. and the Historic Country Club in Brookline,