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Ryder Cup, not just sport but excellent business opportunities

The 42nd edition of the Ryder Cup started on 25th September 2018 at the Le Golf National course in Paris. The Ryder Cup, irrefutably the most famous and exciting golfing event in the world will this year see Italian Francesco Molinari on the field, after his amazing victory at the British Open.

Fans will certainly already know about the history of this high-profile event, but it is worth giving a basic overview before moving on to an analysis from a business point of view. The Ryder Cup was started in the 20s with the help of Samuel Ryder, a wealthy English businessman who was passionate about the sport. He essentially formalised a similar contest that was already held between British and American golfers.

Samuel Ryder, helped by his teacher, Henry Abraham Mitchell, better known as “Abe“, decided to make this contest between different golfing cultures an official regular event, by offering a cash prize (which then became purely symbolic as the competition gained prestige) and creating the famous cup in solid gold with the figure of a golfer inspired by Abe.

Samuel Ryder and Abe Mitchell
Samuel Ryder and Abe Mitchell

The Ryder Cup, like all major sporting events, has over time modified its rules and the format of the game as it is played today has largely stayed the same since the 70s – 18 holes every two years with 3 actual days of competition, no longer English against Americans but 12 Americans against 12 Europeans (in addition to the captains and vice captains, who don’t play) in 3 different types of competitions: 8 foursomes (2 pairs of players who compete against each other by playing the same ball per team), 8 fourballs (pairs compete against each other, always playing the best ball of the two played by the team) and 12 classic direct challenges (1 on 1).

The 28 total points available are then assigned as follows: the winner earns one point for his team; in the case of a draw, half a point is awarded to each of the contending teams. In the case of a total draw in the entire competition (14 to 14), the Ryder Cup stays with the team that had it since the previous edition of the event.

The selection of the respective American and European players is managed differently, according to the results of different “national” championships. The captains, who in addition to managing the team during the tournament can choose some of the players to complete the two teams, are defined by the respective golfing federations.

Crowd at the 2014 Ryder Cup
Crowd at the 2014 Ryder Cup

But let’s get down to “business”: how important is the Ryder Cup today?

It is hard to say how much the 2018 edition will bring in to the French capital, also because we must obviously wait until the end of the event. However, we can predict some things from the previous European edition of 2014 (the Ryder is played alternately in Europe and USA), also because the number of American players is always decidedly higher, and it is not at the moment possible to draw a comparison between Ryder tournaments on each side of the Atlantic.

We know for example that the revenues of the 2014 edition held in Gleneagles in Scotland they have indicated around the 120 million euros including related revenues (from restaurants, hotels, transport, etc.). The investment has certainly been far from minor – it is estimated to be 20 million, but with almost 50,000 spectators a day and 500 million viewers of live TV in 183 countries around the world (which make it the third most followed sporting event on the planet), you could say this is more than justified, even if you only consider the tickets, merchandising and broadcasting rights.

Consider also the returns in terms of image for the players, who get large cachets from sponsors, the Ryder Cup being on par with if not superior in terms of prestige to an Olympic event, and for the resort that hosts it: practically every golfer will want to play on that field forever, whose price of green fees will rise inexorably and regardless of the conditions of the venue.

For the Ryder Cup in Rome in 2022 the profits are estimated to reach an astonishing 200 million euros, as long as the event is adequately managed to optimise profits.

What is certain is that the French are currently better prepared than the Italians, with 410,000 registered golfers and 800,000 players in total. The French federation invested in the development of golf in the late 90s and 2000s, especially among young people, in contrast to the evolution of the game on the rest of the continent. The initiatives to encourage participation in the competition are no less significant, having created 30,000 new golfers and 45,000 new golfers aged between 8 and 10, a strategy that aims to continue to grow the game and to promote related businesses.

Henry Abraham Mitchell, Le Golf National, Ryder Cup, Samuel Ryder

Experiences Ryder Cup 2023

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