European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley has taken an active role in trying to encourage home fans at this year’s Ryder Cup to dress in the blue and gold of Europe. Robin Barwick reports
The Americans have always been very good at decorating themselves in the Stars and Stripes. It started with wartime recruitment posters of Uncle Sam decked out in red, white and blue, the Harlem Globetrotters did it with the most panache, and the number of Stars and Stripes flags flying outside American homes is always abundant in this most patriotic of countries.
At American Ryder Cups, the home fans enthusiastically dress and paint themselves in red, white and blue. It is a striking and stirring display of loyalty and support to their team, and is a key component to the unique Ryder Cup atmosphere, and for the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, European skipper Paul McGinley has instigated a campaign for Europeans to express their own loyalty in the blue and gold of Europe.
It is not that us Europeans are less loyal to our Ryder Cup team that the Americans, it is just than we are used to supporting club and country, not the whole continent. The Ryder Cup is the only major sporting event in which Europe competes as a unified team, and add to that the fact that the blue and gold flag of the European Union was only adopted by all member starts in 1985.
In terms of colour-coded Ryder Cup support, we have had some catching up to do, and McGinley has set his vision for a “a sea of blue” into motion, as Ryder Cup Europe has unveiled The 2014 Ryder Cup Official European Fan Range. It’s all in blue and gold, with a concentration on apparel for the more visible upper body of spectators in a gallery, with the ambition of seeing blue and gold line the fairways of Gleneagles later this month.
“The Official Fan Range offers people the opportunity to get behind the team in a really colourful way,” says McGinley. “I want the fans at Gleneagles to be vocal and passionate and I genuinely believe the Range will go a long way to creating that atmosphere.”
The Fan Range products include polo shirts, sweaters and jackets, featuring European blue and navy with gold trim to reflect the colours of the European flag.
“You can just imagine seeing a sea of blue around the course,” adds McGinley, who holed the winning pout for Europe in the 2002 Ryder Cup at the Belfry. “The positive atmosphere will only help our players – I know this from experience. It can be inspiring to see your home fans getting right behind you. I was thrilled to have had the support to bring this idea to life. They even let me have a say in the design – I just hope it is something the fans coming to the Match will enjoy wearing.”
The Fan Range range has been developed and sourced by the Ryder Cup’s official retail partner, Kitbag. Fans can buy the products exclusively at euroshop.rydercup.com, where men’s and women’s polo shirts made from 100 percent cotton are for sale at £40, a cotton fleece is priced at £50, and a shower-proof ‘Soft Shell’ jacket is priced at £65.
Another show of dynamism from Ryder Cup Europe this year has been the launch of Tartan Tuesday, whereby all golf fans attending the first practice day of the 2014 Ryder Cup on Tuesday, September 23 are being asked to wear a piece of tartan. It is an initiative which is bringing together Scottish heritage, a merchandising opportunity and a charitable element.
On sale at Gleneagles will be tartan clothes pins, with all proceeds going to the Official Charities of The 2014 Ryder Cup – Friends of St Margaret’s Auchterarder, Perth & Kinross Disability Sport, Quarriers and The McGinley Foundation.
“While The Ryder Cup pits Europe against the USA, I think it is a fantastic idea to give the players a warm welcome to Scotland with Tartan Tuesday,” says 2014 Ryder Cup Ambassador Alan Hansen, the former Liverpool and Scotland footballer, and Match of the Day analyst. “Every Ryder Cup has a unique atmosphere and the first practice day will set the tone for the whole week. It should be a great sight, seeing flickers of tartan all over the course.
“Tartan is an iconic Scottish image and a major fashion trend, so it’s the ideal way to welcome the Ryder Cup players to Gleneagles. It’ll be a great ticket to have if you can get one.”
The Tartan influence at the 2014 Ryder Cup is extensive, as an official 2014 Ryder Cup Tartan was commissioned, which official licensees have been able to incorporate into their own 2014 Ryder Cup product.
The Ryder Cup Tartan was custom-made by the world’s leading tartan manufacturer, Lochcarron of Scotland, and features four shades of blue, apparently inspired by the landscape of Scotland. White in the Tartan hints at elements of the Saltire, and gold reflects the second core colour of the European flag.
“Tartan’s importance to Scotland cannot be overestimated,” said Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond when the Ryder Cup Tartan was launched. “It is deeply embedded in Scottish culture and is an internationally recognised symbol of Scotland, therefore this beautiful tartan is the perfect way for the Ryder Cup to celebrate its return to the home of golf.
“While it was obviously important that the tartan was uniquely Scottish to reflect the host nation of The 2014 Ryder Cup,” said McGinley, “I also wanted it to illustrate the Continent of Europe that we will all be representing at Gleneagles, and I think we have done that superbly with the subtle blending of the blue and gold of the European flag.”
Established in 1947 by J Morris Buchan, Lochcarron of Scotland builds on over 60 years of tradition and craftsmanship to constantly supply high quality innovative textiles to the world’s top designers including Vivienne Westwood and Ralph Lauren.
“We are really excited to be involved in such a huge sporting event coming to Scotland,” says Daniel Kim, chief executive from Lochcarron of Scotland. “We have paid careful attention to ensure the design reflects the unique quality and drama of the most treasured trophy in golf, while still paying close tribute to the Scottish heritage behind the game.”
The tartan has been approved by the Scottish Registrar of Tartans, and has been used extensively in products by brands including Lochcarron and Peter Millar.
Boasting an expanded range of official merchandise for 2014, the Ryder Cup is expected to drive unprecedented consumer demand.
“The Ryder Cup is one of the biggest sports events in the world, attracting a global TV reach of more than 500 million homes,” says Tim Hunt, marketing communications director at Ryder Cup Europe. “This rise in popularity is reflected in the level of consumer demand which, in 2014, we expect to be the highest ever for a Ryder Cup match in Europe.
“As with all major international sports events, such as the World Cup and Olympics, fans want to participate and show support for their team. So The Ryder Cup is a unique opportunity for the golf trade, especially for green grass golf retailers who are able to engage customers with distinctive, officially branded merchandise.”
“This year, there is an outstanding variety of Official Merchandise,” says Paul Hedges, chief executive of retail group Foremost Golf. “Retailers have excellent opportunities to sell products not only to their regular customers but the wider audience attracted by the Ryder Cup. It’s a tremendous opportunity for golf retailers to capitalise on a global sporting event in the UK.”