Vocational Education at the Ryder Cup 2014 – Gleneagles

Jamie Hutton (PGA Pro and Lecturer in Golf psychology at Merrist Wood College) gives us a brief look into what it’s like to be a golf degree student at The Ryder cup.

Golf degree students from Merrist Wood College were once again fortunate enough to be involved in the Ryder Cup, this time at Gleneagles Golf Club in Scotland. An ideal opportunity to fill out their work experience logbooks! Past students had previously worked at Celtic Manor in 2010 as volunteers in the Merchandising pavilion as part of their BA Hons Degree in Golf Management. This year they were involved as volunteers looking after on course scoring.

This is a short diary of their experience at this prestigious event;

Day one (Monday 22nd Sept)

It was a two day drive to Gleneagles from Merrist Wood College in Surrey, followed by some interesting attempts at tent erection by the students! ‘Independent learning’ at its best! Finally finished off by volunteer training at the course with ex-student Amy Watkins – in bed by 10pm – feeling very weary.

Day two (Tuesday 23rd)

All students on the morning shift were up and ready to go at 5am, all kitted out in their new volunteer uniform. Playing Highlight of the day - a Bubba Watson special on the 18 hole playing a 3 wood from a buried lie out of the rough to the par 5 green in two with a sensational hit of about 260yds uphill. Maybe one to watch out for this week! Work experience highlight – George sold 1,000 programmes! Rained from 5pm until 11pm – soggy tents and soggy students!

Day three (Wednesday 24th)

Spirits were lifted as the day started with beautiful early sunshine, framed by the gorgeous Perthshire countryside that surrounded the campsite. After a cold night the students managed to heat themselves in the early morning sunshine together with a hot cuppa before work started at midday. Those students with a day off managed to watch the teams make their way around the course in what they described as a ‘growing atmosphere’. Work Experience highlight – Ashley sold 1,500 programmes, currently in the lead on that one. Fish and chips for dinner in Auchterarder followed by an early bed.

Day four (Thursday 25th)

As we approached the course on this final day of practise we could see the crowds moving meaningfully towards the 1st tee stand to watch the Europeans’ tee off. Some of the students had to get into the stand 1.5 hours before they actually teed off – on a practise day!!

The students found it hard to take in the fact that the 1st hole was full to the brim with spectators the whole length of the hole on each side and on each end – on a practise day!! (with atmosphere thrown in!) We all commented that we had never seen anything like it even at ‘The Open’.

Work Experience highlight - must go to Ashley for his successful efforts at networking. Where he managed to get chatting to a manager at the European Tour who said that he would be interested in putting his details forward for work when he completed his degree. Gold Star for him! Rob managed to sell the most programmes in the week with 2,000 programmes. Fish and chip for dinner once again in Auchertrader.

Day 5 (Friday 26th)

After a stormy and sleepless night the students were up before the crack of dawn to make sure they made it into the enormous stand surrounding the 1st Tee. A fresh and sunny day awaited the contestants as they arrived in the amphitheatre of the first tee to the traditional chants of Europe, Europe. The 1st tee experience was like nothing else the students had seen or heard before and it certainly sums up the unique atmosphere of the Ryder Cup. The golf was certainly nip and tuck all day, but with Europe 5 and USA 3 we all felt quietly confident that the Europeans could keep their hands on the trophy again.

Day 6 (Saturday 27th)

Thankfully the wind abated and we all seemed to get a really good nights sleep. Several of the students made it to the 1st tee again at 5am! But for those of us who needed our sleep, we had the slightly surreal benefit of the atmosphere as the European chant rang out across the course at 7am, still cocooned in our sleeping bags! Walking into the venue with the sun shining and the large crowds framed by the Glen of Eagles stretching away from the course, you really had to pinch yourself. It was certainly turning out to be an amazing experience for all involved. Once again the Europeans dominated the Foursomes finishing the day with a commanding lead 10-6. The students discussed the possibility of at ‘Miracle at Gleneagles’ – although this time for the USA. The ‘No’s won it in the end’!

Day 7 (Sunday 28th)

Having packed away all the tents, we made our way down to the course with great expectations for our final day. Luckily all of the students were once again manning the score boards on the course, so they could really savour the extraordinary atmosphere. With Europe really on cruise control with McIlroy on a birdie/eagle blitz, the win for Europe seemed secure. We all agreed that it had been a fantastic week as we made a quick getaway from the venue, heading for the Travelodge in Carlisle. A text from the European Tour saying that the students had been fantastic and a credit to the college was the final icing on the cake.

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