06 Nov 2023

Guy Kinnings: A record-breaking Ryder Cup in Rome

I recently returned from Rome and the 44th Ryder Cup. I may be biased, as Executive Director of the event, but it was one of the most spectacular sporting events I have ever witnessed.

The first tee, with 4,800 people right on top of the players, created a true Roman amphitheatre atmosphere. The golf course, completely remodelled with match play in mind, proved a dramatic test and was in exceptional condition. The fans were at their tribal and enthusiastic best, with Luke Donald’s Team Europe ultimately doing the DP World Tour proud with a thrilling 16.5 – 11.5 victory.

This year’s contest, played against the backdrop of the historic city of Rome, truly connected with fans around the world.  A total of 271,191 people from 100 different countries attended in person at Marco Simone, with the ballot for tickets seven times oversubscribed and attracting applications from 140 countries.

Our early figures also show significant increases in engagement on social media, even from the recent record-breaking editions. There were 2,653 posts across official Ryder Cup social channels during the week, which led to more than 600million impressions and pageviews. Early figures show video views on Ryder Cup social media channels amounted to 198million, with a total of 27million fan interactions, contributing to the channels gaining half a million new followers.

There was an emphasis on trying to get fans access to hallowed team areas where possible, and footage from the European team bus on the Sunday night – with the players celebrating their victory in exuberant fashion – amassed 14million views on social media in the first 48 hours. Those scenes really captured what it means to play for something bigger than yourself, which is something that inspired Luke and his players throughout his Captaincy.

Early figures also show notable increases across global broadcasts, with a rise in average viewership on Sky Sports in the UK of 38 percent compared to the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits and 25 per cent up on the 2018 edition at Le Golf National, making it the most watched Ryder Cup on Sky Sports on record.

I am sometimes asked whether the mantra of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies to the Ryder Cup. I believe the core sporting element inside the ropes produces incredible drama, and does not need to be tinkered with, but we should always find new ways to enhance the already special spectator and viewer experience outside the ropes. The Ryder Cup is not only a time for the golf aficionado to enjoy elite competition. It is also a moment where the sport can break into mainstream culture, and in so doing, attract new fans. We must try to utilise that fact for the betterment of the game.

One example of innovation was a new partnership with Roc Nation – Jay-Z’s entertainment agency – and the Grammy Award winning rapper DJ Khaled, who became an ambassador for the event. He is a golf fanatic, regularly showcasing his love of the game to his 37million followers on Instagram. European Captain Luke Donald actually visited his home before the match, with a fun content piece showing two experts in very different fields bonding over their love of the sport. These sorts of collaborations are key for bringing in younger and more diverse fans into golf.

New York in 2025 will have a tough act to follow, but a Ryder Cup in the city that never sleeps, with its notoriously passionate and rowdy sports fans, will be a tantalising prospect. The Ryder Cup has never been in a healthier place.

We now look forward to finding out who will be crowned this years Race to Dubai Champion at the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in November. Our victorious Ryder Cup stars will be out in force that week, for what is always a dramatic conclusion to the season. The tournament keeps growing as an entertainment spectacle and the 2023 edition will have even more activities on-site for families to enjoy. Friday has been designed as our community day, Saturday will be ladies’ day, and Sunday will be family day. If you haven’t already, make sure you secure your free general admission tickets whilst you still can.

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