The Presidents Cup, Oct. 1-6, will be more than a golf tournament with two dozen world-class players and throngs of spectators at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Expect recognition of top golf events in Dublin’s history, a tournament-side fun area, a piano on wheels and a street festival – all tying the community to the prestigious international tournament that will bring worldwide attention to the City.
Dan Sullivan, tournament director, says the 10th Cup “is about competition, but it is also about community. (It’s) a perfect example of … the spirit of competition, pride of playing for the country and teammates, sportsmanship, charitable giving, community involvement, fan engagement (and) economic impact.”
Twelve American players and 12 from countries outside Europe will compete at the Cup. “They play for their country and for charity,” Sullivan says, pointing out the golfers are not paid and win no prize money – and some of the tournament’s earnings go to charities.
For Dublin and central Ohio, the Cup means a week’s worth of activities beginning Oct. 1.
The City of Dublin, the Dublin Arts Council and the Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau are expanding the tournament atmosphere.
Since mid-July, the bureau has been seeking public votes on websites and social media sites to rank the top 18 moments in Dublin’s golf history, says Scott Dring, executive director. While most are from the Memorial Tournament or Muirfield Village, the list includes Dublin Jerome High School boys’ and girls’ golf teams winning state championships in 2011 and 2012. From Muirfield, events include Cup host Jack Nicklaus picking the site for the course he built and various iconic Memorial Tournament winners, including Tiger Woods’ fifth victory that tied Nicklaus’ 74-Tour-victory total.
Results of the voting will be announced daily starting in September, one event at a time, up to the tournament opening. One randomly selected voter will receive two tickets for the final day of play.
The arts council has commissioned Columbus-based husband-and-wife artists Tim Lai and Eliza Ho to decorate an upright studio piano using a golf theme for the council’s upcoming Playing Through program, says David Guion, council executive director.
Suggested by Dublin residents Bea and Warren Fishman, the piano project is patterned after Play Me, I’m Yours, a public art installation that travels internationally. Dublin’s instrument will be moved to various public locations after its Aug. 13 unveiling, usually accompanied by at least one pianist. Guion expects about 25 Dublin school students and 25 teachers and other pianists will be involved. At various venues, some spectators will have the chance to tickle the ivories, too.
The City is helping pay for the piano, which will be featured in the city-sponsored
Presidents Cup Celebration, a street festival centered in Historic Dublin on Oct. 3. The Playing Through piano will be placed in the middle of the Bridge and High streets intersection, and the festival will also feature live entertainment, food trucks and beer and wine stations.
When practice begins on Oct. 1, the Cup will unveil a “fan experience area” – open to the public – across Memorial Drive from the driving range and the main entrance to the golf course. Playing Through will be there, too, so it can be used and enjoyed by visitors as well as ticket-bearing tournament spectators arriving via foot or shuttle.
Sullivan explains that the experience area, open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, will include a visitors’ center, merchandise, food and beverages from local restaurants, a golf interactive area that will feature putting and some instruction, live entertainment, and a huge television screen that will show tournament play.
“Anyone can watch the tournament and enjoy food and the atmosphere,” he says.
The Cup’s opening ceremony will be at Columbus Commons in downtown Columbus and feature an evening of activities, beginning at 5 p.m. with an international food festival. Cameron Mitchell Catering, the hospitality food and beverage provider at the tournament, will serve cuisine from various countries. Tickets are $30 per person, with a portion going to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, which will also benefit from the Cup’s charitable distributions. In nine outings, the Presidents Cup has raised $27 million, which has gone to 425 charitable causes in 15 countries.
All the golfers – including team captains Fred Couples and Nick Price and their assistants, Cup host Jack Nicklaus and PGA and Cup officials – will take part in the opening ceremony, which will be carried live on the Golf Channel, joined by its parent NBC, to telecast the tournament that will be seen in more than 200 countries and territories. On Oct. 5, the Cup will team with the Short North Business Association to draw visitors to the monthly Gallery Hop.
Sullivan estimates 2,000 volunteers from Dublin and central Ohio will help with the tournament. That’s several hundred fewer than required for the Memorial because it’s a different kind of tournament, Sullivan explains.
While Cup galleries will be about the same size as the Memorial’s, spectators won’t be walking around the course all day long due to the way the tournament is scheduled.
Six foursomes will compete Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, foursomes will play rounds in the morning and afternoon, by far the longest day of golf. On Sunday, a dozen twosomes will play.
To help spectators keep track of play and often fast-paced scoring changes, 23 Jumbotrons will be spread around the course and digital score boards will be used.
“We’ll stick with tradition (manually posted scores) for the Memorial,” says Sullivan, also the veteran executive director for the Memorial.
Many ticket holders will be spending part of their time in hospitality areas. There will be centers on every hole on the back nine, many sold to businesses.
Dublin will have the pleasure of playing host to hordes of visitors who will be busy away from the tournament as well. Numerous travel packages are available with accommodations in and around Dublin as well as downtown Columbus. So are opportunities to play golf at the Country Club at Muirfield, Tartan Fields Golf Club and Wedgewood Golf and County Club for $175 per round and the Golf Club of Dublin for $125.
After the winning team is declared, the trophy presentation comes at a closing ceremony on the driving range, limited to Cup ticket holders and a television audience.
Nicklaus, himself a four-time Presidents Cup team captain, and Muirfield Village have hosted the U.S. Amateur, the Solheim Cup and the Ryder Cup. Muirfield is the only course (and Dublin the only city) to host all four events and the third in the U.S. to host the Presidents’ Cup, Sullivan notes.
The Presidents Cup compared to the 1987 Ryder Cup at Muirfield Village is “night and day” different, Sullivan says. The Ryder Cup was smaller, less prominent. The European team won, which “helped catapult (it) to more prominence,” he says.
Non-Europeans cannot play in the Ryder Cup. Their chance for international competition began with the Presidents Cup’s inception in 1994. The Presidents Cup “has become much more prominent than the Ryder Cup. We can assist in taking it to the next level,” Sullivan says.
“The PGA TOUR will recognize this as the most successful to date,” predicts Sullivan, citing corporate backing, abundant volunteers, ticket sales and community events related to the Cup.
Duane St. Clair is a contributing editor. Feedback welcome at email@example.com.
A Calendar of Presidents Cup related events
Aug. 13. Playing Through piano unveiled, and a series of “sidewalk piano” stops around Dublin and Muirfield Village Golf Club begins.
Sept. 12. Dedication of Presidents Cup Plaza and community debut of Playing Through, Historic Dublin.
Oct. 1. Practice round. Fan Experience Area open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.
Oct. 2 Practice round. Opening Ceremony, Columbus Commons. International cuisine available. 5-10:30 p.m. Historic moments winner disclosed and winning voter named.
Oct. 3. Motorcade stops in Dublin. Foursome matches, 11:30 a.m. Presidents Cup Celebration, Historic Dublin.
Oct. 4. Four-ball matches, 1 p.m.
Oct. 5. Foursome matches, 7:30 a.m.; four-ball matches follow.
Oct. 6. Twosome matches, noon. Closing ceremony.