By Jim Ward President of Premier Golf
Unfortunately, not all of my Ryder Cup memories are good
ones. On September 10, 2001, we had already mailed out all of the travel
documents, including tickets to the Ryder Cup which was to be held in a little
over two weeks, beginning September the 28th.
The next morning, we watched, along with the rest of the world,
as that terrible tragedy played out. We say we will never forget, but I’m not
sure people can really remember how shocked and scared we all were during those
first hours. And that certainly included those people who were to go to England
with us in a few days. Our phones wouldn’t stop ringing. I can remember members
of our team, with tears in their eyes, trying desperately to answer questions
of frustrated clients with answers they did not have. Has the Ryder Cup been
cancelled? The Ryder Cup was not officially cancelled until four days later.
Almost all of the money for hotels and ground transportation
was prepaid and non-refundable. Although they were unwilling to offer a refund,
these vendors finally agreed to no additional charges for 2002. Those wanting
to attend the Ryder Cup in 2002 were able to do so. For those people wanting to
cancel, we agreed to re-sell their package and refund their money, which we
did…every one of them.
It was a terrible time but I do remember a positive…the many e-mails and hand written notes of support as we struggled through a difficult
Following the events of 9/11, 2001, the Ryder Cup was postponed
until 2002. Moving forward, it would now be held in even years. By agreement
with the PGA Tour, the President’s Cup would now be held in even years. This
meant, of course, that we would have a total of three years since the last
Ryder Cup. Frankly, we were looking forward to getting this one behind us.
|Lee Westwood & Sergio Garcia|
I remember thinking at the 2002 matches at The Belfry that
the world was a different place. There was heavy security with men carrying
machine guns, screening thousands of spectators, conducting searches and taking
no chances. No one objected. The opening ceremonies were very emotional, jets
overhead, the many speeches and prayers, even the fluttering of the flags
seemed to take on a new meaning.
The 2002 Ryder Cup didn’t have the same fire and “in your
face” competitiveness we witnessed in
the previous ten years. After 9/11 it was as if the players and fans alike
needed a breather. They got it; The Europeans dominated the singles matches and
cruised to a 15.5-12.5 victory.
time with one of the greats
I did take away one fond memory of that Ryder Cup. We had
hired Billy Casper to serve as a host for our guests. Billy was terrific. He
made several private group appearances and had dinner each night with a
different group, sharing some wonderful old stories and memories from a hall of
fame career. My wife Sandy and I served as escorts for Billy and his wife
Shirley, making sure they made it to functions on time and were properly
introduced. The story of getting lost on the way to an after dinner speech, I
will save for another time. Both my wife and I will cherish the memory of those
few days with Billy and Shirley Casper. They are wonderful people.