11 Nov 2018

Guy Kinnings – At The Ryder Cup helm

In May this year, the European Tour announced that Guy Kinnings, one of the most respected and authoritative figures in the world of golf, was joining its ranks in the role of Deputy CEO and Ryder Cup Director. Formerly IMG’s Senior Vice President and Chairman of Golf –a company he had been a part of since 1989 – Kinnings brings a wealth of experience and expertise in all sectors of the game to the leadership team at Wentworth, along with valued relationships with golf’s global Tours, national Federations and corporate partners.

European Tour CEO Keith Pelley commented: “To bring in someone of Guy Kinnings’ undisputed experience is a massive coup. We will definitely benefit from his wealth of knowledge and his undoubted management skills. His experience in The Ryder Cup, stretching back over a quarter of a century, is unparalleled and his business know-how is equal to that. We have said on many occasions that we are a global golf Tour and Guy’s international profile will help us expand in that area.”

Aside from assisting Pelley in corporate, commercial and tournament areas of the business, Kinnings has also taken over the reins of the Ryder Cup Director role from Richard Hills, following the hugely successful 2018 contest at Le Golf National in September. Kinnings said: “I have great respect for what Keith Pelley, David Williams and the Board of Directors are achieving at the Tour. I have watched with interest the remarkable changes that have taken place in recent times and I see The Ryder Cup at the heart of future growth.

“Over 25 years in the game has given me an insight into the power of The Ryder Cup, as it has evolved, to be not only the greatest team event in golf, but also one of the most dramatic and enthralling events in all sport. Since 1991, I have been fortunate to have worked with players, Captains and the Tour at almost every Ryder Cup. This has given me some fascinating insights and a close and meaningful relationship with many of the key stakeholders in the event and in the game as a whole. I look forward to working with them and everyone at the European Tour to further develop The Ryder Cup in terms of operations, revenue growth and innovation.”

Now the dust has settled on The 2018 Ryder Cup, what are your overall reflections?
GUY KINNINGS: I have been fortunate to experience Ryder Cups since 1989 through my previous role with IMG but I can say, hand on heart, that The 2018 Ryder Cup was the most impressive I have seen and exceeded our expectations at Ryder Cup Europe in every aspect. From the transport and accommodation planning, to the staging of the event; from the experience for on-course fans and hospitality guests alike, everything was first class.

We were also delighted in the way the French public embraced the event. Some 43% of all tickets sold went to French people and the spontaneous singing of La Marseillaise on the first tee on the first morning was something very special indeed. There was much talk in the build-up about how The Ryder Cup is unique in golf, with individual sportsmen embracing and flourishing in a team environment. The passion and commitment that was on show from all 24 players during those three unbelievable days at Le Golf National, proved that once again beyond doubt.

The 2018 Ryder Cup was a great success in many ways, including the organisation. What lessons can Italy learn from that for four years’ time?
GK: There are four key areas that any host nation has to grasp. The encouraging aspect for Italy is that they are already being embraced with what to expect.

1. Demonstrable Government, Political, Institutional and Golfing Community support, which we have benefitted from through our relationship with Franco Chimenti and the FIG team and from Giovanni Malagò and everyone at the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI).

2. Commitment to the development of a world-class golfing facility. We know, through the help and support of Lavina Biagotti and her team at Marco Simone, and the work with European Golf Design, that Marco Simone could
not be more passionate about delivering a venue that will be a fitting stage for this global sporting occasion.

3. Provision of ancillary facilities, suitable access, plus transport planning and an infrastructure commensurate
with the staging of an international sporting event – plans for which are already advanced in all these areas.

4. A demonstrable contribution to the development of golf in the country across all levels – good examples being the
elevation of the Italian Open to be part of the Rolex Series on the European Tour, playing for a prize fund of $7 million, as well as the two Challenge Tour and one Staysure Tour event currently played in Italy.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of Italy as a Ryder Cup venue?
GK: Like The 2018 Ryder Cup, which benefitted greatly from having one of the world’s great cities in Paris as a backdrop, the same will be said for The 2022 Ryder Cup with Rome as a backdrop. While the focus of the next contest now turns to Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, there is no question that the eyes of the golfing and sporting world in Europe will also turn to Italy.

We are committed to ensuring that one of the world’s great sporting events benefits from perhaps the most iconic
setting that it could have. History shows what Italy can bring to major occasions such as this, and I cannot think of a sports fan anywhere in the world who would not be tempted by the opportunity to enjoy The Ryder Cup in the surroundings of this wonderful country.

The challenge Italy faces, which was similar to that of France, is that golf is not embedded as a sport in the country as much as it is, for example, in Scotland in 2014. But this is where achievements such as Francesco Molinari’s – in terms of winning the Open Championship and becoming the first European player in history to win five points out of five in The Ryder Cup – help immensely. That showcased Italian golf in the best possible light and it is important that all of Italian golf now builds on the momentum created by this
truly wonderful player and personality.

How is the work going at Marco Simone?
GK: As I said above, we are committed to the development of a world-class golfing facility which, through the help
and support of Lavinia Biagiotti and her team at Marco Simone in conjunction with the team at European Golf Design, is now beginning to take shape. Work is underway and we know that Marco Simone could not be more passionate about delivering a venue that will be a fitting stage for this global sporting occasion, both in terms of the golf course and the surrounding infrastructure for fan experience.

We are all now together on the Road to Rome but we have to understand – as a team – that we have relatively little time and nature plays a role in course development. We must now work together as a single cohesive unit to achieve all that we want.

What would be, in your opinion, the main and realistic goal for Rome 2022?
GK: To deliver a safe and successful Ryder Cup that is also the biggest and best the competition has ever seen.


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