I will not be watching the Ryder Cup from the upper tier of the 2010 clubhouse at Celtic Manor this year. I will be watching the Ryder Cup in the equally salubrious surrounds of the Old Arcade, or ‘The Goat’. I will probably tell some that this is my choice. I will point to all the drawbacks of watching the match wandering around a field in the company of 49,999 other souls; “You won’t be able to see anything”, “You’ll never get a drink”, ”The queues to the toilets will be horrendous,””What. I’ve got to park in Tredegar Park and take the bus in?”, “What if it rains?”.
In truth it all comes down to one thing… money. As a Saturday Morning Ball School colleague put it, “£130! I’d want to play in the Ryder Cup for that amount of money.”
It will be expensive. Aside for the entrance fee and the £20 parking fee there’s the food and drink (you’re not allowed to take your own food and drink you know) and all the restriction on cameras, phones etc..
Is this too much? Couldn’t billionaire Terry, sorry multi- billionare Sir Terry lower the prices a little in these harsh times? There’s an argument on both side here. On the one hand ‘why should he. It’s his game and he can charge what he likes. If you don’t like it you can go to the Old A with Byron and watch it on tv.” On the other hand how much does Sir Terry need another million or two.
GB and Europe have already given up home advantage to play at a golf club few of the players have even driven past let alone played before so why not at least have a really partizan, working class crowd. In rugby a large proportion of the tickets go to the rugby clubs. Wouldn’t it be excellent if that happened in golf and hoards of everyday golfers descended on the Celtic Manor – now that would be a home advantage. I hardly think 50,000 champagne-swilling, blue-blazered, televison-golfers will put Phil Mickelson off his swing. The combined might of Bargoed, Castell Heights, Caerleon , etc. golfers may well do.
And what about after the Ryder Cup? Is it possible Sir Terry will stay? Why would he – he’s done it now. He’s had the supreme monopoly / fantasy golf game, played it and won. What could be next? Getting Wales to hold the 2020 Olympics, Canada to hold the 2022 World Cup? There were rumours of the Celtic Manor becoming a centre for sporting excellence – tennis in particular was mentioned. I can’t see it myself. Where is the motivation for Sir T in that. Having climbed Everest what did Sir Edmund Hilary do next? Neil Armstrong? Captain Webb, Chuck Yeager, Ricky Valance. Exactly. No-one knows. For golf in Wales it’s been good. Newport has a new road. Golfers now know, at least that Wales is not part of England, and by the end of the week they will have found out the hard way, that Newport is not part of Cardiff.
As for the match itself Tiger Woods will win all his matches. It’s inevitable. It’s all part of his master plan. Why do you think Tiger’s been out of action for so long – exactly, he’s focusing on the Ryder Cup. Anyone who has bought Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 for the Wii will know this. The game features the most accurate depiction of the course at Celtic Manor that you will ever see. It’s more accurate than being there – say some. Tiger has obviously been busy all summer learning the nuances of the course from the comfort of his armchair and will be a certainty for all points – mark my words.
So, I’ll watch Tiger Woods and the US team narrowly win the Ryder Cup from the discomfort of the Goat Major and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Unless of course someone were willing to offer me a free ticket.
This article first appeared in ‘The Wales on Sunday’ September 2010