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2009 Ryder Cup - Scottish bid, other bids, money and politics
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Galbraith drives home youthful exercise as part of Ryder Cup bid

Mike Aitken, The Scotsman, 1 February 2001

A decision on which country will be awarded the right to host the 2009 match between Europe and America is not expected to be reached at this month’s meeting of the Ryder Cup committee. Instead, the successful bid is more likely to be identified in the spring.

Although the three competing countries - Scotland, Wales and the North of England - all want to know their fate as soon as possible, it now looks improbable that the committee will find themselves in a position to make an immediate judgment after the bids are assessed on 13 and 14 February.

Instead, the Ryder Cup committee is more likely to take a view on how best to proceed and what to do next. It may well be that clarification is needed on a number of issues raised by each of the bids before any final verdict can be reached.

While the European Tour would happily leave any decision until the summer, it is thought the Professional Golfers Association are more sympathetic to the position of the three bidders, and will try to make their findings public as soon as possible.

Certainly, my understanding is that Scotland want to see a swift resolution of the bidding process on the grounds that the sooner a decision is reached the quicker all the recommendations in their bid can be implemented if they’re successful.

Although he doesn’t yet know when the race will reach the finishing line, Sam Galbraith, Scotland’s sports minister, indicated yesterday he was "quietly confident" about landing the 2009 match between Europe and America.

Speaking at a press conference in Edinburgh where the Bank of Scotland agreed to sponsor the Scottish Junior Masters Tournament - the competition involves 2,500 boys and girls - Mr Galbraith was in upbeat mood.

He said that one of the most important aspects of Scotland’s Ryder Cup bid was the manner in which it combines the promotion of excellence at the top with the grassroots promotion of the game.

The minister believes that Scotland’s pledge to give every child under nine the chance to play the game is vital to the success of the bid. However, he was insistent there would be no single blueprint to achieve that goal and argued different solutions would be found in different parts of the country.

"The Bank of Scotland Junior Masters is an important initiative in the overall junior golf programme," he added. "As part of our Ryder Cup bid we have pledged that by 2009 every child in Scotland will have been introduced to the game of golf by the time they are nine years old. I’m confident that these young champions will be pressing for Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup places in the near future."

Ian Rae, Scotland’s first national golf coach, also was enthusiastic about the range of new developments taking place in the Scottish game. Rae, who coaches European Tour players Stephen Gallacher and Dean Robertson, believes it’s just as important for the home of golf to groom tomorrow’s stars.

"These junior masters are the stars of the future and their talents need to be nurtured and developed," he said. "Scotland’s commitment to cultivate junior golfers as part of the Ryder Cup bid places it at the forefront of junior excellence."

As well as enlisting a national golf coach, an announcement will be made soon about the appointment of a youth development manager to co-ordinate Scotland’s junior golf strategy. This story was broken in these columns last month when it emerged how closely sportscotland, the Scottish PGA, the Scottish Golf Union, the Scottish Ladies Golfing Association and the Golf Foundation were working together.

Of course, all concerned with the Scottish bid appreciate they will need to invest at the elite end of the sport as well as in junior golf if the 2009 Ryder Cup is to be secured.

While Wales have already pledged to invest £500,000 in a new Seniors event and £400,000 in a Ladies’ Tour championship, my information is that Scotland will shortly reveal its hand for 2001 with an impressive investment package across a range of men’s, women’s and senior’s professional tournaments.

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