Ryder Cup Memories: 1993 The Belfry
By Jim Ward President of Premier Golf
Our first European Ryder Cup
After the Americans won the Ryder Cup in 1991 it was back to the Belfry for the 1993 matches. This was Premier Golf’s first opportunity to manage a European event and it was an interesting challenge; hotels, transportation arrangements, concierge services etc. One challenge not usually appreciated, is the financial risk of currency exchange. For the first time we had to take into consideration the impact of currency changes when we priced our packages for sale.
I think we came through the operational challenges with flying colors and everybody seemed to have a great time. It didn’t hurt that the Americans won an exciting match 14.5 to 13.5. I can still see Davis Love’s hands up in the air after holing a six foot putt on 18 to win it for the Americans.
“Watch my man Corey.”
But my favorite memory of the 1993 Ryder Cup happened during the Saturday afternoon four ball matches. By now, we had learned that the best strategy for watching the matches is to pick a hole early, get a good vantage point, and let the matches come to you.
This is exactly what my wife Sandy and I did. We went to the 5th hole to watch the fourball matches come through. As it turned out there were very few Americans and we found ourselves right in the middle of a group of British fans. There were two fathers and their young sons right in front of us. As the day wore on, I carried on a friendly verbal battle with everyone around us, especially these two boys. We took great pleasure shouting USA! Anytime the Americans did something well.
Eventually, Corey Pavin and Lanny Wadkins came through in their match with Bernhard Langer and Barry Lane. We watched as the Euros knocked their shots to within ten feet. Corey Pavin was next to play his shot. Then, I don’t know what made me do it, but before Pavin played his shot, I turned around to all my new found friends, with my hands a foot apart, and said “Watch my man Corey stiff it!” Well you can look it up, Corey Pavin knocked it right in the hole from about 150 yards…Eagle 2. I was wearing a bright, American flag sweater so when I threw up my hands to celebrate, Corey picked me out as one of the few Americans in the crowd.
With a big smile, Corey picked his ball out of the hole and as he walked past us he tossed the ball to me. Without thinking, I gave the ball to one of the boys I had been teasing all afternoon. Actually I wish I had that ball today, but I wouldn’t trade it for my memories of those British fans or for the picture I have hanging in my office of that young man with that ball.
And so now the Americans had won the Ryder Cup back to back. Would they begin to dominate again? Next stop, Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester NY.