Sep 20 2011 by Gordon Bannerman, Perthshire Advertiser Tuesday
A TWELVE-strong Gleneagles group flew out on Monday for a dream Ryder Cup style date in America.
The exclusive Medinah Golf and Country Club, which hosts the high profile match between Europe and the USA’s top golfers next year, is rolling out the red carpet for the Big County team.
And in turn, with Gleneagles playing host to the 2014 Ryder Cup, the Perthshire venue will welcome their US hosts 12 months before the pros do battle over the PGA Centenary course in the Big County.
Gleneagles head pro Russell Smith and recently appointed director of golf Stuart McEwen have been joined on the trip to Chicago by 10 lucky members who were plucked from a 50-strong ballot earlier in the year.
Before flying out, Smith told PA Sport: “We will be playing against Medinah members in a format which reflects the Ryder Cup so it’s going to be great fun.
“Everyone going will get game time on the celebrated No 3 course which was designed by Scotsman Tom Bendelow. It opened in 1926, the year when Gleneagles was finished.
“Many of out team have played in the States but the course at Medinah is quite special and everyone is looking forward to experiencing the challenges the professionals will face in 2012.
“We are taking a trophy out to Illinois and hopefully we will be bringing it back on Friday to defend here in 2013.
“As you can imagine there was a great deal of interest from members of the golf clubs at Gleneagles and we had to hold a ballot. We whittled it down and the final the team is drawn from Glenearn, Dun Whinney and Dun Ochil. There is a nice balance.”
The seeds of the match were sown by Russell at a PGA fair several years ago when he met-up with Medinah contacts.
The exclusive country club near Chicago has hosted three US Opens and two PGA Championships, and it is rated among the top 20 courses in America.
The dates of the Scottish tournament have still to be confirmed but the Ryder Cup takes place next year in the USA from September 25-30.
“We agreed it would be a great event to enhance links between venues which are hosting the next two Ryder Cups,” said Smith.
“I’m delighted it has come to fruition. None of us have played Medinah but, like Gleneagles, it is a world class venue and it will be a marvellous experience for the team.”
Suppliers including Glenmuir, Oscar Jacobson and Footjoy have ensured the Scottish team will look the part this week.
The full team is Russell Smith, Stuart McEwen, Andy Lothian, Mike Collier, Tony Davidson,Martin Super, Jimmy Hamilton, Austin Carey, Stephen Bull, Ian Campbell, Stuart Anderson and Robert Gordon.
Smith said: “Stuart and I are particularly looking forward to chatting with colleagues who are putting the finishing touches to their own preparations and hopefully sharing insights which we can use here at Gleneagles.”
Andy Lothian, one of the members who flew out yesterday, said: “It is a great honour for us to be representing Gleneagles at Medinah. The history of Medinah is magical – I remember Tiger going head-to-head with a young, leaping Sergio Garcia there in the PGA Championship of 1999.
“We are all excited to be playing at Medinah in a full Ryder Cup format match. We look forward to a convivial and inspiring experience – and on behalf of all of the members at Gleneagles we’ll do all we can to win!”