For the most part, it is a game that only the very few can play.
As a young pro starting out my career, it didn’t take very long for me to understand the who’s who of golf, outside the tournament ropes.
Names like JP McManus, Dermot Desmond, John Magnier, and Dr Michael Smurfit were Irish royalty who wanted nothing more than to compete with and against the professionals on the golf course.
To them, golf was an opportunity to build great friendships and to create a network of talent that is the envy of each and every tour commissioner.
Where else around the world can any tournament, outside the majors and the WGC events, call on the likes of Tiger, Rory, Shane, Pádraig and almost all the top talent in the world for their own private Pro-Am?
Where else would either the PGA Tour or the European Tour ever allow any other Pro-Am commandeer their best players, unless it was in their interests to do so?
Once JP McManus bought the majestic Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort and then immediately begun an extensive 18-month refurbishment of both the course and the property, I knew it was just a matter of time before his bid was made to host the Ryder Cup.
As the director of golf for Ireland’s only Ryder Cup to date, in 2006, I have some knowledge about this space. For example, I understand the amount of leverage the European Tour can exert on host countries in order to secure what is now the most commercially successful golf event in the world. The commitment is colossal and the sums of money are huge — but the payback, in many ways, is even greater.
As a great sporting nation, we are probably the best event managers in the world. Never in the history of The Open Championship was it ever fully sold out before last week. The same applies to 2006, when foul weather never once diminished the attendance or the determination of the galleries to appreciate what was a very special occasion.
No one, you expect, appreciates that more than JP McManus, with his “once every five-year” bonanza charity Pro-Am, and now the Ryder Cup.
It is a fitting tribute to a family who have continuously reached out to support all sporting codes, while also giving back generously to a multitude of charities.
Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort’s course routing is stunningly beautiful, with a mixture of holes running past the river, through the woodland and beside the old manor.
As a Ryder Cup test, it is true and fair, but very much in the mould of what the Americans would play day in and day out on tour.
As a venue, it is certainly big enough to host the event — but in a strange way, it is also intimate, with something to offer for everyone, starting with the manor house, which dates back to 1832, and the tourist-friendly town.
One of the great conundrums, now of course, will be who captains the team?
Knowing how much JP favours the Irish, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Graeme McDowell’s odds significantly tumbling… but I am purely speculating.
This is the start of a great six years for golf in Ireland — of that I have no doubt.