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It is good to be able to have this short debate to mark the spectacular success of the Ryder cup, which was summed up in yesterday’s Scotsman:
“It provided drama aplenty over three days, during which there was not a squeak of complaint from any of the 24 players. In terms of spectator viewing, it was quite possibly one of the best we have seen, not just for an event that had 45,000 spectators attending each day but for any tournament ever staged in this country.”
On Sunday evening, Sky Sports broadcaster Butch Harman commented:
“This is by far the best organised Ryder Cup ever. It has been phenomenal.”
It was also a success because of the stunning victory of the European team, led by captain Paul McGinley, which means that Europe holds the title for the third time in a row.
The television audience across the world was more than 500 million people, and for the 250,000 fans who came from 96 different countries to watch the best players from Europe and the USA it was an amazing experience. Many of them enjoyed events such as the fantastic gala concert that was held last Wednesday at the SSE Hydro. The Falkirk kelpies and Edinburgh’s air traffic control tower were also lit up in gold in celebration of Scotland’s hosting of the Ryder cup. What a week of weather, too, with the sun rising at Gleneagles for the opening tee-off to welcome the fans in the packed grandstands.
Importantly, the Ryder cup was a success because of the legacy benefits, which we will debate in a moment, as well as the huge amount of work that was undertaken by the many partners that are listed in the motion. I pay particular tribute to VisitScotland and its events directorate, EventScotland, for the work that they have done.
The Ryder cup will provide great economic benefits to Scotland, both locally and nationally. We are already seeing examples of that impact. One golf club in Angus reported an estimated income of £15,000 a day during the Ryder cup, and a golf club in Ayrshire saw its visitor numbers shoot up by 74 per cent compared with the same period last year. In addition, several airlines, including US Airways and United Airlines, reported increases in demand for international seats, while KLM and Icelandair added extra capacity on flights throughout September in response to strong demand from the North American market. With the tournament beamed to a global television audience in excess of 500 million each day of the competition, the Ryder cup truly has set Scotland as the perfect stage for major events.
To ensure that we capture those benefits fully, a full independent evaluation is under way. The evaluation will be far reaching and, among other things, will capture the impacts in terms of increased employment in Perth and Kinross and the rest of Scotland; the value of supplier contracts won by Scottish businesses involved with the event; increased tourism, including increased visitor numbers, duration of stay and occupancy levels and the additional revenue generated in relation to travel and transport; and golf and the positive impact that the event has had on visitors playing Scotland’s fabulous golf courses. A report will be published in the spring of next year, and I will update colleagues in the chamber at that time.
It has been a long time since the Ryder cup was awarded to Scotland 13 years ago, and the legacy benefits have been part of the planning from the outset.
Scotland is not only the home of golf, but the future of golf, and this Government is committed to increasing golf participation and membership levels through our successful clubgolf programme.
To underline that commitment, the First Minister announced last week additional funding of up to £1 million over four years to help introduce yet more youngsters and families to the game. The clubgolf programme has encouraged more than 350,000 youngsters to pick up a club, and the new funding will not only build on that success, but look to expand the appeal to families. Through the new get into golf initiative, as part of clubgolf parents are being encouraged to participate with their children and play the game as a family.
The junior Ryder cup, which also took place last week in Blairgowrie, was the perfect illustration of clubgolf at its best. With 3,200 schoolchildren taking part in clubgolf activity and about 6,000 spectators over the course of the tournament, the profile of junior golf is stronger than it has ever been.
Another area that we have invested in from the beginning as part of our Ryder cup bid commitments is the development of domestic golf tournaments, with more than £10 million spent to date. That investment supports golf tourism—a key tourism market for Scotland—as well as providing a boost for businesses not just in Perthshire, but throughout Scotland.
We also helped deliver the best ever connected Ryder cup through investing in telecoms. This was the first ever Ryder cup where people were allowed to take mobile phones on the course, where we facilitated 4G connectivity. As well as the connectivity on the course, we also invested in enhancing the spectator experience, from wi-fi hotspots at park-and-ride sites to wi-fi en-route.
With any major event, transport planning is always a particular challenge. The Ryder cup was no different, with spectators travelling to Gleneagles from across the country. During the event the park-and-ride system and ScotRail together ensured that spectators arrived safely and on time. About 30,000 people directly experienced the upgraded Gleneagles railway station. I thank those who worked tirelessly to keep Perthshire and the rest of Scotland on the move.
The scale and size of the Ryder cup dictated that it had to be a non-car event. Officials at Transport Scotland worked with Ryder Cup Europe and key partners, including Perth and Kinross Council and Police Scotland, to develop a robust transport plan. The plan was designed to maximise the use of the available road and public transport networks and to minimise the negative impact of the event on local communities, businesses and the wider travelling public.
The plan also sought to deliver transport legacy benefits from the 2014 Ryder cup. As I mentioned, Gleneagles station has undergone significant refurbishment, providing a lasting legacy for Auchterarder and the wider Strathearn area. Works included structural refurbishment and wi-fi installation. In addition, Network Rail, through the access for all fund, installed two new lifts, providing step-free access to both platforms.
ScotRail also fitted wi-fi equipment on to the class 170 and class 158 rolling stock that served Gleneagles last week. That will provide a legacy for routes across Scotland.
Finally, the new link road connects the station safely to the nearby A9 and an expanded car park.
However, the event was not only about the teams and the fans. Indeed, it would not have been possible without the hardworking and dedicated 7,000 staff and 1,800 volunteers, and I pay particular tribute to them. As part of the wider volunteering programme, we supported 50 young people to volunteer through the Scotland’s best programme, increasing their skills and experience as well as helping them gain a Scottish credit and qualifications framework level 4 employability qualification to increase their employment prospects. The young people whom I met from the Scotland’s best programme certainly got a lot out of their experience.
In the coming weeks and months, we will be able to report on further outcomes and legacy benefits from the Ryder cup, not least when the economic benefits study reports next spring.
I look forward to hearing members’ views. It is without doubt that the Ryder cup has put the icing on the cake on what has been a fantastic summer of sport. We should not underestimate Scotland’s reach on the world stage, first through the Commonwealth games, politically through the referendum and, finally, through the Ryder cup. Scotland is better known to millions of people throughout the world, which can only be good for our country, our economy and our tourism industry. I hope that members across the whole chamber will welcome that.
It is with great pleasure that I move,
That the Parliament congratulates the European team on retaining the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles; commends both the European and US teams for providing a world-class tournament watched by sell-out audiences and showcasing Scotland to a global television audience in excess of half a billion each day of the competition; congratulates Ryder Cup Europe, EventScotland, Police Scotland, Transport Scotland, Perth and Kinross Council, Gleneagles Hotel, Scottish Government agencies and all the partner organisations for the excellent partnership working that went into delivering the event; supports the Scottish Government and all partners in taking advantage of the substantial business and inward investment opportunities presented by hosting both the Ryder Cup and Junior Ryder Cup, as well as building on Scotland’s reputation as the home of golf and a perfect stage for holding world-class events, developing the range of sporting tournaments that it hosts; welcomes work to continue to promote and deliver a lasting legacy for the game through the successful ClubGolf initiative, which, with additional support of up to £1 million from the Scottish Government, will now develop a programme to encourage families to play golf, and leave lasting benefits to the transport infrastructure for local communities around Gleneagles, and agrees that the Scottish Government should continue to drive forward the benefits from hosting the Ryder Cup to build on these foundations, leaving a lasting legacy for Scotland from this remarkable sporting spectacle.
Thank you, Presiding Officer.
As the cabinet secretary said, like the Commonwealth games, the Ryder cup at Gleneagles was a long time coming, but it was worth the wait. With good weather throughout and a fantastic setting, all was set fair for an excellent competition, and we were not disappointed.
It has to be said that, as captain, Paul McGinley made all the right calls in pairing his team and was extremely effective in the role. The Europeans all played well. If it is not too invidious to single out individual players, I want to make special mention, on behalf of my household, of the excellent contributions that were made by Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy. As newcomers to the competition, the American Patrick Reid and the Frenchman Victor Dubuisson gave memorable performances. For Europe to win again and in such a conclusive way was just a joy to watch, but the Europeans did not have it all their own way, and praise must go to both sides for making it such an enthralling competition.
Since his team’s Ryder cup victory, Paul McGinley has announced his retirement. Having played in the Ryder cup, been vice-captain and now captain, and having won on all three occasions, he can, in his own words, retire
“like a heavyweight champion, undefeated.”
I am sure that we all wish him well and thank him for his efforts.
Of course, it was not just the players who excelled. The staff and the 2,000 volunteers did a great job and were exceptionally professional throughout, and the 45,000-plus spectators added to the feel of the event, as their passion, commitment and knowledge of their sport shone through in their enthusiastic reaction to and their good-hearted support for the players.
Gleneagles was a stunning venue for a great competition, and I can imagine just how hard the green-keepers and the staff will have worked to ensure that the course not only looked its very best but played well, too. In addition, as the cabinet secretary said, we owe a special debt of thanks to Mike Cantlay and Malcolm Roughead of VisitScotland and Paul Bush of EventScotland for bringing the project through over many years.
As we have heard, it is likely that, once the figures have been analysed and the numbers are in, we will find that Scotland has benefited financially and in terms of return visits from our hosting of the Ryder cup. Those statistics will make interesting reading, but our country began to reap the benefits as far back as 2003, when the then First Minister Jack McConnell launched the clubgolf initiative as a legacy of the Ryder cup. Since 2003, more than 140,000 children have had the opportunity to experience golf. Many have continued with the sport after that initial experience, and I very much hope that some will go on to be the players and professionals of the future. In that regard, our congratulations must also go to those who competed in the junior Ryder cup at Blairgowrie.
We know that many of the parents and siblings of young people who have been involved in clubgolf have themselves been motivated to take up the game, and I was pleased to read that that interest will now be harnessed in a more formal way. I think that that is a very good thing to do.
Despite holding such a great event, and in spite of the fact that Scotland is undoubtedly the home of golf and has a pre-eminent reputation in it, many of our local golf clubs are struggling to survive and need all the help that they can get. My colleague Neil Findlay will address that issue in more detail in his closing speech, but perhaps in the course of the debate the cabinet secretary could tell us whether sportscotland keeps track of clubs that are in difficulty and what measures it can bring to bear to assist them.
Colleagues will perhaps recall that I have not always been a fan of Diageo, particularly when it was closing a distillery in my constituency, which led to subsequent job losses. I still regret the company’s decision very much and people in my constituency still miss the impact of those jobs in our local economy, but I have to give Diageo credit for the initiative that it launched earlier this year as part of its contribution to the legacy of the Ryder cup by establishing a five-year training programme for young unemployed people who might like to work in the catering and hospitality industry.
I understand that the programme is being led by Peter Lederer OBE, who is chairman of Gleneagles and a Diageo director and who has a lifetime of experience in the industry. I well remember how as chair of VisitScotland he championed on-going training and development for staff in the industry and how committed he was to making staff training and development the normal way of things in that industry, and I know that his successors have pursued the same aim with vigour since his departure. I am sure that, with Mr Lederer at the helm of the project, it will go from strength to strength and make a real difference to the lives of Scotland’s young people and, just as important, an important contribution to tourism in this country.
I read with interest that the 10th World Hickory Open golf championship is being hosted in Scotland and, indeed, will shortly get under way in Forfar for those who espouse a more traditional feel to their game of golf. I wish the participants good luck in their endeavours.
We have demonstrated that as a country we can successfully host large-scale sporting events and that people in Scotland will get involved and take pride in delivering the best possible event. We also know that we can secure a meaningful legacy when we put our minds to it. I wonder, therefore, whether the cabinet secretary might like to say a little about any future sporting events her Government intends to bid for. At the weekend, I watched with some curiosity and great interest an interview with Mike Cantlay, in which I thought that he was teasing us a little with the prospect of something that was seemed to be still only a glimmer in his eye. If the cabinet secretary is willing to share anything with us on that front, I am sure that we would all be very interested in hearing about it. We have a reputation for being able to host such events professionally and safely, and we must capitalise on that legacy.
In closing, I, too, want to congratulate everyone involved in making the 2014 Ryder cup such a success. I wish Minnesota good luck—it has a high standard to follow.
Anyone who goes into Perth’s famous A K Bell library will be able to access copies of the Perthshire Advertiser and the Strathearn Herald from June 1921, both of which report on international challenge golf matches between American and British players. Those matches were, in effect, the forerunner of what became the modern Ryder cup, and they were set against the backdrop of the skeleton building structures of what we now know as the famous Gleneagles hotel. The matches attracted widespread publicity and quite considerable prize money of 1,000 guineas, as well as some very sociable celebrations in Auchterarder and, quite bizarrely, a railway carriage somewhere in Auchtermuchty. The journalist did not seem quite sure of the details, which is perhaps just as well.
The newspapers also report on the presentations made by the Duchess of Atholl, who said that the match had proved that first-class golf courses were no longer dependent on a seaside location and that Perthshire people should be very proud of what had been achieved. I think that she would be even prouder today. Of course, times have changed, but I think that we can all agree that it was very fitting that Gleneagles played host to the 40th Ryder cup and kept up the reputation of what is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest sporting events—an event that was made even better by the fact that Europe won.
From day 1, when it was announced that Gleneagles was the chosen venue, the Ryder cup administration team, along with everyone involved in Gleneagles itself, Perth and Kinross Council, Police Scotland and VisitScotland—and many more—produced briefing material about the event that was of an exceptionally high standard. For that reason alone, there was a very high level of public trust in the event. There were some minor problems—local newspapers have mentioned, for example, some of the wi-fi connections, pedestrian and campsite access and a local information leaflet that I think was a little confused—but otherwise the running of the tournament was exceptionally smooth. As one might have expected, given the glorious setting of Gleneagles, the event attracted very favourable comment from around the world, and it speaks volumes that the competitors, too, were delighted.
I have never seen a championship golf course in the world looking as good as Gleneagles was—and I include Augusta, Crans-Montana and Malmö in that—and we should be in absolutely no doubt about the extraordinary efforts that go into making such a tournament work. In that respect, I should mention the head professional, Andrew Jowett; the senior green-keeper, Scott Fenwick; the Ryder cup referee, Charles Dernie; and Peter Lederer and his team at Gleneagles. The Ryder cup is no ordinary sporting event, and it is no ordinary task to ensure that the estimated 250,000 spectators all have the best possible visitor experience.
The cabinet secretary has spoken about the media and sales promotion partnerships, whose spend was somewhere in the region of £500,000 and which reached in excess of 10 million people in the United Kingdom and Ireland. A record-breaking number of golf fans—in the region of 130,000—entered once-in-a-lifetime competitions to win trips to the 2014 Ryder cup. It is clear that there was absolutely no lack of enthusiasm.
In the international sphere, more than £250,000 has been spent on golf marketing in the key markets of North America, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and so on, with the biggest spend in the last few months coinciding very much with the screening of the Ryder cup.
We all have to recognise such good news for Scotland.
The main part of the legacy will be judged by the development of the game for future generations, of course. It is very good to hear about the initiatives that the Scottish Government has undertaken on clubgolf and the inspiration that will undoubtedly come from the junior Ryder cup at Blairgowrie. I particularly welcome the initiative to involve families in that.
Given that Scotland is very much the home of golf and that we have some of the best golf courses in the world at Gleneagles, St Andrews, Muirfield, Royal Troon and so on, it is striking that the vast majority of our young golfers who want to make it big in the game feel the need to go abroad to get some of their training. In the future, we can try to help them to stay home based, because that would not only be very much to the benefit of the game of golf but greatly inspire our young people.
Likewise, we need to do more to support existing golf clubs to improve their environmental surroundings and business case, which I think Neil Findlay will speak about.
I will finish on a constituency note on behalf of the 3,000 Auchterarder residents who have in the past week signed a petition that asks for the hugely successful footbridge over the A9 at Gleneagles station to be made permanent. There could be no better lasting legacy for those people, who have had to cope with the aftermath of two recent fatal accidents on that stretch of the road, than knowing that the footbridge, whose dismantling this weekend we are all very concerned about, will be replaced with a permanent one.
In my closing speech, I will say a little bit more about some of the issues that have to go into the legacy, but I am happy to support the Government’s motion.
I am just closing.
It could address the impending construction of a golf city in China. Real opportunities exist to kindle inbound and outbound golf tourism.
I congratulate everybody associated with the Ryder cup event over its three days.
I am pleased to participate in the debate on the fantastic success that was the Ryder cup 2014 at Gleneagles and to add my congratulations to the European team captain, Paul McGinley, and his victorious players.
I was keen to speak today both as the SNP MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife and as a resident of Strathearn—my home is in Comrie, which is some 16 miles from Gleneagles. From all the conversations that I have had with local people in the past few days, I think that the feedback about the hosting of the Ryder cup at Gleneagles is positive.
The massive free advertising for our tourism industry that the Ryder cup afforded—as we have heard, there were some 500 million TV viewers per day around the globe—is well understood by local people. The redoubtable—if I may call him that—Mike Cantlay, the chairman of VisitScotland, said that hosting the Ryder cup was the equivalent of a £40 million advert for free, so I say well done to all concerned at VisitScotland. That can only bode very well for our tourism industry in Perthshire and across Scotland.
At a more local level, I am pleased to report that, as far as I have heard, hotels large and small did great business, as did local bed and breakfasts, chalets and lodges. Anywhere that people could stay, the beds were used. Local restaurants were busy and, although not all retailers had increased takings, there is nonetheless confidence that the visiting Americans and others from around the globe will come back to explore that most beautiful part of Scotland at a more leisurely pace.
As we have heard, any feared transport chaos did not materialise. I give a special thanks to Transport Scotland, whose meticulous planning paved the way for a smooth-running operation. I believe that some 50,000 people were on site each day at Gleneagles, including thousands of visitors.
On transport infrastructure, I add my support to the local petition that calls for the A9 Ryder cup footbridge to become a permanent feature. I know that the temporary footbridge is to come down in the next few days, but I am aware from the Perthshire Advertiser of 30 September that the transport minister, Keith Brown, is willing at least to look into the establishment of a permanent structure. I see that the cabinet secretary wants to intervene; I do not know whether she wants to give me news.
Four Shetland friends will play the centenary course tomorrow. Of course, I wish them well. I hope that none of them ends up in the loch at the side of the 16th, in the bunker beside the first or in any other horrible hazard that will cause them to lose their favourite Titleist Pro.
By any standards, it has been one heck of a week for golf in Scotland. I very much agree with the general tone of the cabinet secretary’s remarks.
Patricia Ferguson and I might both reflect that some of us who were part of the Government when the Ryder cup was awarded and when Jack McConnell rightly got clubgolf going might have hoped at some stage for an “access all areas” pass on the back of that, but life moves on.
Liz Smith made an interesting comparison between Augusta and Gleneagles. I suppose that one difference is that there is usually 80 degrees of heat at Augusta. Having walked round the course at the masters, I know that that makes a substantial difference.
The point that really struck me as I watched the golf on television was how powerful the images were, and the fact that they were beamed round the world does nothing but good for Scottish golf.
I am glad that the cabinet secretary also mentioned the junior Ryder cup at Blairgowrie. I think that the Blairgowrie courses are the best inland golf courses in Scotland, and the fact that the junior Ryder cup was such a success there has to bode well for the development of junior golf.
As for the event itself, Kaymer’s chip-in at the 16th has to be my best moment. Having walked round the back of that green, I think that, for level of difficulty, that had to be the toughest imaginable shot, given the pressure. The other side to it was the look in Rory McIlroy’s eyes as he beat Rickie Fowler. I could find any number of adjectives to describe what he did to him, but the intensity of his eyes were those of a sportsman on his game.
At 10-6 overnight on the Saturday, I personally thought that there was no way we were going to lose, given the line-up that we put out, with G-Mac leading them out.
I will make two or three other points. First, I agree with Chic Brodie that dissing Tom Watson was not the cleverest thing to do. The Americans just did not play very well. A two-times masters champion got zero points during the course of the weekend. Instead of dissing their captain, they might all have looked at themselves. I suspect that half of their team did look at themselves. They can go on about Zinger and his pods from some years past, but I think the Americans need to do that.
McGinley was clearly an inspirational and incredibly intelligent leader of his team and he deserves all the plaudits that will come to him.
There are some bigger issues for golf that need to be addressed. In some ways, they are not about governance but about the game and what it needs to do for the future. Let us be clear that golf is a money-making enterprise. I think that the cabinet secretary mentioned this, but I understand that the European tour will make £70 million out of Gleneagles. How much of that will go back into junior golf, not just in Scotland, of course, but right across Europe? Let us be clear that these men are all multimillionaires—they are very well paid to do what they do. I am a passionate golfer, but I think that it is fair to look very hard at the game itself and at where the money is.
In our country, we have 230,000 people playing golf. France already has 430,000, and when the French host the next Ryder cup they hope to increase that, reaching 700,000 by 2018. Victor Dubuisson may not be the only Frenchman in the team by that time if they get that number playing golf.
That is why clubgolf is so important and why Shona Robison’s Government is absolutely right to keep it going. I also support the other initiatives that she announced today. However, there are some hard questions that we need to ask. How many girls and women are in golf?
The R&A seems to have dragged itself into the 21st century, and about time too. However, there is much to do, because I certainly hope that Stephen Gallacher is not the last Scot to play. I hope that he plays next time too, but I rather hope that there are a few more Scots in the team with him.
KPMG estimates that the annual benefit to the Scottish economy of golf tourism could be £1 billion. My goodness, we are a rich and resourceful country. We do not always maximise our natural assets as best we can, but I have to say that Margo MacDonald knew something about maximising natural assets and I suspect that the Scottish Government and team Scotland do, too.
I commend the motion to Parliament.
The event has been a fantastic showcase of Scotland’s abilities in many sectors, from food and drink to sports tourism. In concluding, I have a message for the cabinet secretary. Let us take this know-how and this legacy and export it to France. We have four years to see what we can do here in the Parliament with cross-party support—
Clubs need to work co-operatively to use their purchasing power collectively to cut energy bills, insurance costs and the cost of food, equipment, plant and all that stuff. We can learn lessons from sports such as cricket, where the Twenty20 format has brought a new dimension.
The Ryder cup was one of the greatest sporting events ever to have taken place in Scotland. It was a pleasure to be there, and a pleasure to watch on the final day on TV.
Thank you, Presiding Officer.
On girls and young women participating, I fully take the minister’s point that young women will come through in the same numbers as young men through clubgolf. However, girls’ experience of a club might be that they can be only an associate member or play only at particular times. Does the minister agree that that is not necessarily a way to encourage them to continue?
Yes, indeed. That is why I talked about how clubs welcome new members. We are in different times. Neil Findlay talked about differences in family life and working life and what our expectations are. Clubs should make sure that when junior members, particularly girls, turn up they get a welcome. It is in a club’s best interests to keep those members for a lifetime and, if they play it right, that is exactly what will happen.
I thank members for their contributions and I am happy to close the debate.
First, I congratulate the cabinet secretary on her summer of 2014. The Commonwealth games and the Ryder cup have provided not just a legacy for Scotland and Scottish sport but a huge opportunity for business and tourism. I add worthy congratulations to VisitScotland.
Last week, the Ryder cup tournament came home. As Liz Smith highlighted, a little over 90 years ago, 20 men assembled at Gleneagles for an international challenge match between Great Britain and the USA on the king’s course. Among them were golfing giants such as Vardon, Hagen and JH Taylor. The 1921 match had no name, no crowd and no trophy, although there was prize money, but it gave rise to the phenomenon and experience that is now the Ryder cup. It was first played for officially in Massachusetts, at the Worcester Country Club in 1927. That course was, of course, designed by Donald Ross, who was a golf course architect from Dornoch.
Throughout the Ryder cup’s history, Scots have played their part in Ryder cup course design on both sides of the Atlantic—I refer to Ross, Braid, MacKenzie and Campbell. They have also played their part as players—I refer to Fallon, Eric Brown, John Panton, Bannerman, Torrance, Bernard Gallacher, who was the youngest player ever at the age of 20, Montgomerie, Lawrie and so on. Therefore, the Ryder cup came home.
As I drove towards Perth early on Friday morning discounting a chest infection—one just had to on that day—the closer that I got to Gleneagles, the more palpable the atmosphere became. Entering the course, which is a theatre that is set at the foot of the Ochils—a modern-day Colosseum, but with golfing gladiators—one could only marvel at the ocean of people properly disciplined by their love of golf, but also by outstanding organisation, location management and communication.
Some 45,000 spectators were marshalled by volunteers. As was mentioned, 1,800 of them were selected from 17,500 applications. Volunteers secured crowd safety, sold programmes and provided hospitality at the many adroitly placed guest pavilions. They managed the transport and the park-and-ride facilities, marshalled the buses and provided outstanding customer service at the hospitality village, where you could buy a Scottie hotdog covered in onions and haggis, which was yours for only £7.50. The volunteers played no little part in the tournament’s success. I also applaud all the partnership organisations mentioned in the motion for creating such an event, which reached half a billion people in 180 countries.
Europe won the event, and commiserations go of course to the USA team. I would say to Phil Mickelson, however, that he should look in afore he looks oot and that he should not attack an adopted golfing son of Scotland, as he did with Tom Watson. However, the real winners were the game of golf and the Scotland experience, both offering significant opportunities and income in the years ahead for golf and for tourism.
The lasting legacy for golf is manifold. For example, the cabinet secretary has talked about the clubgolf initiative to put a golf club in every child’s hands by the age of nine, and that is critical. However, golf tourism is a win-win for the Scottish economy. In the past year I have had several discussions with European golfing authorities, the University of West Scotland and an internationally renowned golf course to try to replicate or partner the golf degree course at the University of Birmingham, which is associated with a practical course at the Belfry. I am afraid that some young Scots golfers cannot afford to attend the course.
We should try to create a partnership with the University of Birmingham, which offers a comprehensive high-level degree course that embraces finance, marketing and retail aspects as well as course design and maintenance, club design and coaching. A Scottish golf academy could address the impending construction—
Pars, birdies and bogies is how golf is often described, and members should believe me that, as an ex-club member, I have experienced them all. I can well remember the endless series of tragedies—bogey after bogey after bogey—all obscured by the occasional miracle of that high-five moment of a birdie.
Looking back at the Ryder cup, like many others I experienced those jaw-dropping moments when the professionals made their miraculous shots seem par for the course. Who can forget game-changing moments such as Ian Poulter’s chip in at the 15th, Rory McIlroy’s tramline putt and Jamie Donaldson’s putt that earned the point that retained the 40th Ryder cup for Europe? They were magic moments indeed.
It is great that Europe has now won six of the last seven events, with this year’s team, captained by Paul McGinley and having seven UK players, a Swede, a Dane, a German, a Spaniard and a Frenchman, putting in a tremendous team effort to secure the cup. Best of all, though, was that the Ryder cup was in Scotland. It was only the second time that it has been here, with the first time being at Muirfield in 1973.
Of course, the Ryder cup is now a huge event and much bigger than it was when rescued by Raymond Miquel with Bell’s sponsorship in 1983 and 1985. This year’s competition attracted thousands of enthusiastic and sometimes strangely clad visitors from all over the world, who were given a very warm Scottish welcome. Even the golf wear of some prominent Scots grabbed media attention.
There were a few moments when the US challenge gave Europe cause for concern, but we were eventually rewarded with not the knife-edge finish that we have come to expect but a convincing win. Nevertheless, the competition had a great atmosphere to the very end, as I am sure most people who were there would agree.
There is no doubt that there are many economic benefits for Scotland as a result of the competition being staged at Gleneagles, with many millions spent at the event and on international media coverage. However, the real value of the Ryder cup will be in what happens down the line. Just as the efforts that were put into securing, planning and promoting the Ryder cup took years to bring to fruition, so the legacy needs to be secured and nurtured over the coming years.
In Wales, which was the 2010 host, golf tourism has grown by 40 per cent, with about 200,000 visitors last year. We must build on the location’s romantic appeal and the spectacle of the occasion and ensure that the impact on visitors and the media coverage have a long-lasting effect. The coverage should pay dividends for tourism and for food and drink exports as we look to expand our markets.
As with the Commonwealth games, hundreds of volunteers were hard at work. I reiterate what I said about the games and the importance of harnessing the spirit of volunteering that we have seen this summer.
There is no doubt that the Ryder cup will encourage more people to play golf. I urge them to be patient and not to be put off if progress is slow. At such times, I find the words of John F Kennedy comforting:
“Show me a man with a great golf game, and I’ll show you a man who has been neglecting something.”
I welcome the cabinet secretary’s statement. I am sure that the gentleman in Auchterarder who started the petition and the community concerned will be pleased to hear that progress will be made. I will be in touch with the transport minister to ensure that that proceeds in a reasonable timeframe.
We have talked about the legacy. When I spoke in the debate in September last year, two local charities were to benefit—the Friends of St Margaret’s hospital in Auchterarder and Perth & Kinross Disability Sport. We look forward to hearing in due course about the benefits that the Ryder cup has brought to those excellent local organisations.
We heard about the Scottish hospitality apprenticeship scheme, and I, too, praise Diageo and all the other players who are involved in that. We also heard about the fantastic clubgolf initiative, and I welcome the expansion to encourage families to play with their children.
I am very proud of the success that was the Ryder cup 2014. Scotland has shown the world that it is indeed the home of golf and that a very warm welcome to our shores awaits the world of golf.
Three words sprang into my mind as I listened to this afternoon’s interesting debate: “Dalmuir golf course”. I was 13 years old, I was given a half set of clubs and I was marched around Dalmuir golf course. It was a great bit of exercise, but there was no hint on how to play golf other than, “Hit it as hard as you can, son.” It was a well-intentioned adult who had taken me and a friend around Dalmuir golf course. It was a terrible experience, although I got a king-size Mars bar halfway through, which was quite good.
The reason why I mention that is because young people’s first experiences of a sport are really important. That is why the clubgolf initiative is also important. I eventually got involved with Gaelic football, and I had a really good-quality first experience of that.
I want to commend the legacy of the clubgolf initiative, which, as others have said, was started in 2003. My 14-year-old niece took part in the initiative and got a far better experience of golf than I did, although I do not know whether she got a king-size Mars bar.
I commend clubgolf to the Parliament. It would be interesting to know the social profile of the young people who are involved in the initiative. We must ensure that young people from our most deprived communities are just as likely to take part as others. I suspect that they are, but we should never be complacent about that kind of thing. I note that £1 million was announced for the get into golf initiative, which links clubgolf with schools and education and the motivation of the junior Ryder cup.
I think that the first three words that I thought of for this debate, “Dalmuir golf club”, stand me in good stead and make a relevant contribution this afternoon. My second contribution is made up of two words: “Margo MacDonald.”
I remember, during a debate in here that took place when we had a minority SNP Government, Margo arguing, as she always did, for mair money for Edinburgh. She talked about having to support the Edinburgh festival and I said to her, “Edinburgh may have the Edinburgh festival, but Glasgow is the city of festivals.” She took exception to that, quite rightly.
The reason why I mention Margo MacDonald is that I think that her ambition for Edinburgh, the ambition of all elected representatives for Glasgow—with the Commonwealth games and everything that has flowed from that—and the Scottish Government’s ambition for team Scotland, be it in sports, festivals or whatever else, demonstrate that the issue is not Glasgow versus Edinburgh versus Perthshire versus wherever. Scotland, on the world stage, should be expecting a series of massive and hugely successful sporting, cultural and entertainment events all year round every year.
There has to be a national strategy to achieve that. We cannot get the Ryder cup or the Commonwealth games every time, but we must be forward thinking and engage in forward planning. For example, I tried to get Glasgow City Council to bid for the world masters games for oldies. To be fair to the local authority, it had its hands full with the Commonwealth games and the bid for the youth Olympics. However, every four years there is an opportunity to bid for those games. The last ones were in Torino. The outcome report for that has still to be produced, but it is estimated that the games attracted 50,000 participants and visitors. Tick that off on the list of events that would be good for our sporting calendar.
The 2014 Ryder cup has happened. After a two-year wait, team Europe completed its hat-trick of successive wins in the greatest tournament in match play golf. More than 45,000 spectators attended each day and the tournament was broadcast to over 180 countries, reaching more than half a billion homes each day of the competition.
Earlier this summer, Scotland hosted an extremely successful Commonwealth games in Glasgow, which delivered a lasting legacy for the whole country. Obviously, the aim was to continue with that success in relation to the Ryder cup, and I believe that that has been accomplished.
Every Scot should be proud of that. It means that people across the world have seen Scotland for what it is: a professional, hard-working, honest nation that delivers on its commitments. Our nation has also benefited from the events themselves. It is clear that those great events are creating a large and interesting aspect to sport in schools, workplaces and homes across the country.
The 2010 Ryder cup in Newport boosted the Welsh economy by £82.4 million, so we hope for a similar figure. It is expected that the economic impact of staging the Ryder cup at Gleneagles will be approximately £100 million, and I am confident that we will reach that figure and, indeed, I hope that we will surpass it.
One benefit from the Ryder cup is that Glasgow airport enjoyed a 5 per cent rise in its passenger numbers compared with the same period last year. Additionally, the Glasgow City Marketing Bureau estimates that nearly 7,000 hotel room nights were booked during the event, which tells us that more than £1 million has been put into Glasgow’s economy. Glasgow must be really proud of the fact that it is achieving success after success.
It was great to see a boisterous, respectful and peaceful set of spectators at Gleneagles. I believe that that played a significant role in Europe’s Ryder cup win over the United States.
The Commonwealth games and the Ryder cup have shown exactly what Scotland can do when it is asked to put together an event on the international stage and stand above all others. It has shown that we have the expertise in crowd control and security and, more importantly, ensuring that all the spectators have an enjoyable event.
I not only congratulate everybody who was involved in the Ryder cup, the Commonwealth games and other such events in Scotland but look forward to the possibility of the European football championships coming to Scotland, considering our background. As a Glaswegian, I am proud of what we have achieved in the past year, and I hope that we continue to achieve in the future.
The Ryder cup was a fantastic event. I did not attend it but my colleague Chic Brodie did and I missed the fantastic atmosphere that he talked about. Like many of us, I watched it on television and talked about it a lot, before, during and after the event. Members will not be surprised to hear that I will choose to talk about its legacy and impact overseas.
First of all, I need to come clean: I have never played golf. Despite the number of golf courses in the north-east of Scotland, I have never found the time. That is my excuse. I should say that I have not played golf yet, because I hope to be able to do it in the future.
In Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, there are more than 50 courses. We are rich in them in the north-east. In Fraserburgh, we have the seventh oldest golf club in the world, which was founded back in 1777. Braemar golf course is the highest 18-hole course in the UK, but I have not got round to it yet.
Closer to home, we have Stonehaven golf course, which has a fantastic view of Dunnottar castle. In my home town of Westhill, just a few hundred yards from my home, there is Westhill golf course, which has a wonderful setting. I have supported it a lot over the years but have never yet experienced playing on it.
Aberdeen city has seven golf facilities. Many of them are, of course, municipal courses. One of them, Balnagask, has the best view of the harbour and the city. I was next to that golf course many times in the past few months, because of the spotlight that was on Scotland as a result of the referendum and the fact that many TV channels chose that location to interview me. The cabinet secretary should believe me that I used those interviews to promote the Ryder cup and ask people to come to Gleneagles.
That idea of promotion is very important, because we need to see the whole of Scotland as a place for tourism and the 2014 Ryder cup at Gleneagles has been a fantastic event in that regard. We also need to promote golf as a sport not for the few but for the many. A lot of the journalists who came from abroad were surprised by the extent of our municipal golf courses; I am very proud of that. Bob Doris mentioned the importance of having the experience of golf available for everybody, not just for the few.
That is the legacy of the Ryder cup at Gleneagles that we all want to support: showing the world the very best that Scotland has to offer while promoting golf as a sport for all.
The eyes of the world have been on Scotland this year; they will be on France in 2018, as Tavish Scott mentioned. For the first time, France will play host, as France won the bid to host the 2018 Ryder cup. It is also the first time in 21 years that the Ryder cup will return to mainland Europe—everybody will remember that Valderrama was 17 years ago.
Before last month’s tournament, most of us could name only one Frenchman who played golf at the highest level—Jean van de Velde, the man who threw it all away at the open championship at Carnoustie, giving the north-east a win and giving my neighbour Paul Lawrie the biggest win to date in his career.
I remember that when we debated the Commonwealth games legacy, we agreed that it is not always terribly easy to define the word “legacy”, particularly when it comes to its qualitative value. Therefore it is not particularly easy to measure. The cabinet secretary has quite rightly mentioned some statistical measures that will be used to determine longer-term success and I am sure that those will be hugely significant.
However, I think that local people will want to know that that legacy is just as beneficial to them as it is to Perthshire and to Scotland generally. Annabelle Ewing mentioned that the general feeling from hotels and bed and breakfasts is that there is a good feeling out there, but local shops will want to know the same.
Local people have seen that there has been a marked improvement in many of the amenities around the local community, whether that involves road surfaces or cycle paths being improved or the excellent improvements to Gleneagles station. They definitely want that permanent footbridge and I was pleased to hear what the cabinet secretary said on that. I do not think that terribly much negotiation will have to take place with local people because it is very clear indeed, from just how quickly that petition has been drawn up, exactly what they think. I hope that the footbridge can be an immediate permanent feature and I hope that Transport Scotland will move on that extremely quickly.
Tavish Scott made an important point when he said that when it comes to legacy, it is not really about legislating but about creating the right circumstances to develop the sport. As Stewart Harris of sportscotland said after the Commonwealth games on legacy, it is about building the capacity—I think that that is absolutely correct. We have work to do when it comes to participation; it is all very well getting more and more youngsters into a taste of golf but we really have to develop a strategy that means that they will stay with the game.
I return to the particular point that I raised earlier about those who want to play the game at an elite level: we have to avoid a situation in which they feel that it is better to train and study abroad than in Scotland. We have some of the best facilities anywhere in the world and I hope that we can make better use of them.
There is an issue about the business side of golf. Far too many of our local golf clubs are finding it very difficult to survive these days. That is partly due to a decline in membership but it is also to do with an aspect of business help. Some clubs are too small to take up the small business benefits that have been part of Scottish Government legislation. We have to do more to encourage those clubs.
Some people find subscription levels very expensive, so we must take care, if we want to encourage families, to consider the difficulties involved and confront the expense of taking up full-time golf club membership. I agree entirely with Tavish Scott’s point about the need for more women in golf. The R&A sent out exactly the right message, after perhaps too long a time, that women have as much of a role to play in golf as their male counterparts; I was delighted to see that the club has changed its membership rules.
The debate has been very good. The Ryder cup was an excellent competition and it has certainly done Scotland proud. I hope that I have allowed the Presiding Officer to catch up on time by about 20 seconds.
As a spectator I have witnessed some great and not-so-great sporting occasions, going from the depths of despair in Genoa, watching Scotland lose to Costa Rica at the 1990 world cup, to jubilation only a few days later when we beat Sweden, raising again the cyclical hopes that we would qualify. I do not need to tell members that the inevitable happened a few days later, as we got beat off Brazil, but it was a great sporting occasion nonetheless.
I have been to the Ashes at Lord’s, and experienced gubbings and victories at Murrayfield. This summer I saw the fantastic Josh Taylor and the force of nature that is Charlie Flynn get their boxing golds in the finals at the Hydro. Those are sporting experiences that I will never forget, although I have tried desperately to forget some of them.
Standing next to the first tee at Gleneagles on Friday for the first day of the Ryder cup was up there with the best of those experiences. It is difficult to come up with superlatives to describe the experience of the spectators, never mind that of the players. The Ryder cup had everything: the noise of an old firm game, humour, song, sportsmanship and dreadful clothing, and even a deer running up the first fairway in front of 20,000 spectators, wondering what the hell we were all doing in its front room.
We saw golfing legends Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus, Montgomerie, Olazábal, Torrance and others looking on as the players had somehow to bring themselves to swing the club, which they did in a display of golf that I think was the finest that has ever been seen In Scotland. That is saying something, because we have experienced some magic over the years.
From my perspective as a spectator, everything went smoothly, from the first point of contact with the transport arrangements on the way to the event all through the day to the final colourful—shall we say—-crowd participation at the presentation. Everything was first class. The course was immaculately presented, and—as Liz Smith said—the setting in and around Gleneagles was truly spectacular. As the minister mentioned, we had four days of dry sunny weather in Scotland in September—who would have thought it? The golfing god—or Seve, as he is known—must surely have been looking down on us.
Undoubtedly there will be a tourism legacy from the event. We heard comments from people of all nationalities who were thrilled to be in such spectacular surroundings. As for the play itself, we experienced three days with enough drama to sweep the board at the Oscars.
In the first two days there was very close competition, which set up the event for the final day. We saw McIlroy prove to be the best player in the world, and McDowell prove to be the street fighter that people knew he was. We saw Patrick Reed, pumping up himself and the crowd, Bubba Watson revelling in the atmosphere, Poulter just being Poulter and Justin Rose coming back from four down to secure a fantastic half at the last.
I am glad that Tavish Scott mentioned Stephen Gallacher, who played exceptionally well and was four under but was unable to beat the class act that was Mickelson. Of course, new stars were born such as Spieth, Dubuisson and Jamie Donaldson, whose winning shot must already be classified as the shot of his life.
We saw sport played to a high standard at the highest level, with the highest level of sporting integrity. Annabelle Ewing, the minister and other members were right to list the contribution of the volunteers and all the people who made the event happen. John Pentland mentioned a jaw-dropping moment—well, I too had a jaw-dropping moment when he bought me a pint in the pavilion, but we will not dwell on that.
My main hope for the Ryder cup is that it encourages more people to play the game, especially women. I make an appeal on behalf of the parliamentary golf team for more women to join the team. We do not have any at the moment so, if anybody wants to come forward, they would be most welcome.
Golf in Scotland is in a bit of a difficult situation. Many of the 500 or so clubs are struggling to retain, never mind increase, their membership. That is certainly true of the clubs in my area. The legacy of the financial crash, changes in working and family lives, cultural change and access to new forms of entertainment and relaxation are putting immense pressure on clubs. Committees are doing everything that they can to keep their clubs alive. They are making cuts while trying to increase revenue without compromising on quality. I hope that the Government, sportscotland and other agencies will do all that they can to assist with that. Clubs get support from the Scottish Golf Union, but they need assistance to ensure that they are on a firm and sustainable business footing. They need to avoid competing each other out of business on fees. Fees are a difficulty, but the solution is not simply for clubs to lower their fees, because that will end up in clubs competing each other out of business. That is a difficulty that all the clubs face.
I thank all members who have taken part in the debate, which has been short but full of excellent speeches. I will try to respond to as many of the points that have been raised as possible.
Patricia Ferguson asked about future sporting events. We have a number coming up. We have already secured three world championships, in gymnastics, orienteering and IPC—International Paralympic Committee—swimming, as well as two European Championships, in judo and eventing. Those will take place next year, to keep everybody’s interest in sport on the boil. Plus, as Hanzala Malik mentioned, we have Euro 2020, for which Glasgow is one of the host cities. I am sure that the city will want to make the most of that. There are other irons in the fire, which we hope to bring to fruition in due course.
Several members, not least Neil Findlay in his closing remarks, mentioned some of the pressures that golf clubs are under. We recognise that. The Scottish Golf Union has an important role alongside sportscotland in helping clubs to identify business plans, consider ways of raising income and be innovative. Neil Findlay touched on some of the innovations that other sporting clubs have considered. We will of course continue to consider what else we can do to support them.
Let us not underestimate the importance of clubgolf. If clubs are smart, they can attract some of the 15 per cent of clubgolf participants who go on to join a club. If the clubs look after those junior members, they could have them for life. However, clubs need to be welcoming to those junior members and ensure that they structure their clubs accordingly. We allocated 2,000 Ryder cup tickets to the Scottish Golf Union to be used for golf development purposes and for golf clubs to engage new golfers and re-engage old golfers with the game and all of the benefits that it offers.
Bob Doris asked about the future of the national strategy for sporting events, which is called “Scotland, The Perfect Stage—A Strategy for the Events Industry in Scotland 2009-2020”. A review of the strategy is taking place, because we always need to consider what more we can do. It is fair to say that EventScotland has a really strong track record given what it has done to date, but of course it always wants to maintain a freshness. The review, which will conclude later this year, will reflect on the lessons that can be learned from the delivery of the recent major events. VisitScotland is leading the work on the review and has been consulting widely on it.
Liz Smith mentioned a bit of history and went back to 1921 and the 1,000 guineas prize money. Of course, the interesting thing about the modern Ryder cup is that there is no prize money. That is not to say that there are not benefits in being part of the Ryder cup teams, but nonetheless the focus is very much on doing it for the team and for the continent that people represent.
It was good to hear Liz Smith say that there is a high level of public trust in the event. That is another good lesson for future events. Liaison with the local community is important, because when it does not happen well it can go badly wrong. There were some really good lessons learned about that extensive engagement.
Liz Smith and Tavish Scott both mentioned the R&A position on the admission of women. As I have said a number of times, in 21st century Scotland admitting women is the right thing to do. Some of us would perhaps argue that it should have been done a long time ago, but progress is progress, so we will take that and move on.
Liz Smith asked about players being supported to train here. Elite athletes in golf or any other sport will go where the coaches whose support they want are, and sometimes weather can be a factor. However, it is fair to say that where possible we want to keep our elite sportsmen and women training here in Scotland.
We should always look to what more we can do. I was very impressed by Chic Brodie’s knowledge of golfing history and he mentioned a Scottish golf academy. We will always look to see what more can be done to keep the best training here in Scotland.
John Pentland talked about harnessing the spirit of volunteers, which has been a theme throughout the summer. We have gone the extra mile to ensure not only that volunteers get a good experience and enjoy the event at which they are volunteering but that they get something back. That is why the Scottish Qualifications Authority has a qualification that recognises volunteers’ skills, which is Scotland’s best opportunity for young people who are furthest from the labour market. They have never had that opportunity and, as I said in my opening remarks, the growth in confidence of the people whom I met at Gleneagles was quite something and they are all planning, in one way or another, to move forward with that learning experience.
Annabelle Ewing mentioned some of the wider benefits, not least of which was that some local charities have benefited. When we host events, we should ensure that we take forward every possible legacy opportunity.
When I mentioned the R&A and Tavish Scott’s comments, I should have said that it is heartening not only that the numbers of boys and girls who are going through clubgolf are 50:50, but that girls are well represented in those who take up the sport and join a club. However, we must not be complacent, and there are opportunities to showcase for girls role models at the top of their sport through, for example, the Solheim cup, if we get that here again. We will do all that we can to secure that event again.