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 JOHN HOPKINS
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You deserved better, Sir Terry

You are Sir Terry Matthews. You are standing under an umbrella at Celtic Manor and it’s raining. It is appropriate that it is raining because it seems as though it rains quite often in Wales. In fact, it doesn't rain more there than anywhere else.

You are standing in the rain because you are about to present the 2012 Wales Open trophy. It has been a quiet tournament with not one Welsh player making the cut, not many spectators and a field that included only three of the world's top 50 players. But that does nothing to lessen your enthusiasm. To say that you are enthusiastic is an understatement. Enthusiasm could be your middle name.

It’s a good job you are enthusiastic because I think that you have been poorly treated in return for the money and time you have put into golf. You have had bad luck. How could anyone say that the weather that marked the 2010 Ryder Cup was anything than unlucky? One year before the weather had been beautiful and one year after it was beautiful too. You arrived in golf with the force of a brick being thrown through a plate glass window. You turned the nursing home where you were born into an hotel that grew to become one of the biggest in Europe. It had golf courses, spas, walking trails, polo pitches and some of the best conference facilities on the continent. And it was on one of those golf courses that you staged the first Wales Open in 2000 and you dreamed of staging the Ryder Cup.

You got together a powerful group of Welshmen to work on your bid for the Ryder Cup and the Welsh Assembly to support it and promise to improve Newport railway station and the local roads. The bid contained some imaginative suggestions for spreading golf throughout Wales and then, on the eve of submitting it to the PGA, you, with your knowledge of tenders, jazzed it up to make it even more attractive.

You signed Colin Montgomerie to promote the resort, guessing that if you got the Ryder Cup, he would play an important part in it. Little did you realise that he would captain the team and would make some last-minute requests including ripping up numerous sleeping policemen near the hotel because the sound of cars approaching and accelerating away from them disturbed the players. This cost £125,000, allegedly. Naturally, though, you accommodated it Then came the announcement that Wales had won the Ryder Cup from under the noses of Scotland, who took their loss with bad grace. From that moment on it looked as though you did little other than dip into your pocket again. Money for a reworking of the golf course by European Golf Design. Money for a bridge so the players could reach the practice ground. It could have been a couple of planks placed from one side of the river Usk to the other. You went for an eye-catching multi-million pound bridge that still stands as a monument to your generosity – and is hardly used.

One thing you didn't do is pay appearance money to attract the best players to the Wales Open in the lavish way that other sponsors did and do for their tournaments. The result was that though the 2010 tournament had a half decent field with Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell in it, most years the tournament has not.

When the PGA Tour in the US stole the month of August for its FedEx series, it meant that the Ryder Cup had to be moved later in the year, which increased the chances of bad weather disrupting it. This is what happened at Celtic Manor in 2010 when play went to a fourth day for the first time in history.

This time, it wasn't so much your efforts that made the Ryder Cup memorable. It was the work by Jim McKenzie, the greenkeeper. He presented the course beautifully for Friday morning – and lost it to the weather. He presented it beautifully on Saturday and lost it again. And he presented it beautifully on Sunday and again on Monday. No man could have done more – he didn’t go to bed between Friday and Sunday – and no one deserved his MBE more.

All in all, Sir Terry few people have invested as much on the Ryder Cup as you have. £10million, £50 million, £100 million. Does it matter? The point is it is a stonking sum. You are committed to paying £1m annually until 2014 under the terms of your Ryder Cup agreement for an iffy date and a tournament that through no fault of your own the players have not taken to their hearts.

For all that you have done for golf, and all the enthusiasm you have shown, you deserve better, Sir Terry. You deserve better.

July 2012

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

 






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