Editor's note: With the 2012 Ryder Cup coming to Medinah Country Club this fall, Don Larson, Medinah's Ryder Cup chairman, shares his insight about the tournament, the work it takes to host such a world-class event, and what it will bring to the area. This is the first in a series of Q&A's and essays the Daily Herald will provide leading up to the event.
Q. How big will the Ryder Cup's impact be in the suburbs and Chicago?
A. The Ryder Cup will be fantastic for DuPage County and the Chicago area, which has already shown so much passion and enthusiasm for this event. Approximately 40,000 people will be in the Ryder Cup gallery each day, and many of those fans will be attending from outside the area and often from outside the United States.
Many people will arrive before the Ryder Cup and stay after because they want to make a vacation out of it and take advantage of all the wonderful things to see and do here.
This not only benefits businesses like hotels and restaurants but provides a wonderful way to showcase DuPage County and the great city of Chicago on a global stage.
Additionally, giving back and making a charitable impact is an important part of the Ryder Cup. One example is Magnificent Moments, which is an officially sanctioned charitable fundraising campaign of the Ryder Cup that is raising money for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana and the Illinois PGA Foundation. I would encourage people to visit magnificentmoments.org to learn more.
Q. How does this event compare with other big events in the world, and in this region?
A. The Ryder Cup is one of the greatest sporting events in the world, and the fact that it is coming to Medinah Country Club in just a few short months is tremendously exciting.
As many people know, Medinah has a rich history of major tournament golf, but the Ryder Cup is truly unique because of its international appeal and the incredible passion it generates among not just golf fans but sports fans spanning the globe. It is difficult to compare to any one event -- it's really the Super Bowl of golf but with an Olympic feeling and the global reach of a World Cup.
It's a wonderfully patriotic event and the best players in the world take incredible pride in playing in a Ryder Cup.
Q.What level of cooperation is needed to pull this off, and what goes into hosting such an event?
A. The 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah has been more than a decade in the making when you take a look at the entire process, and the level of detailed planning and cooperation is amazing. We have a fantastic team working on this event -- from the staff at Medinah and PGA headquarters to Medinah members to the 4,000 event volunteers and 6,000 additional volunteers on our waiting list.
Obviously, there are a lot of moving parts and pieces, and we carefully prepare in all areas, ranging from parking to security to media assistance. Overall, our priority is to make the Ryder Cup an incredible experience for fans and to give them a warm welcome to DuPage County and Chicago.
Q. What do you hope that golf fans from around the world will come away with when it is over?
A. My hope is that people will leave Medinah wishing it wasn't quite time to go. I hope that new visitors fall in love with DuPage County and Chicago and that past visitors fall in love with the area all over again. I hope local residents feel a great sense of pride.
And I hope that this year's Ryder Cup is remembered as one of the best in history, both for its level of play and execution here at Medinah. September is going to be a magical month.
Q. For those who haven't been to a Ryder Cup, what was the experience like for you?
A. Absolutely incredible. My first Ryder Cup was in 1999, and I've been to almost every one since. The excitement and drama are really something to behold for a sports fan. Every shot counts, every hole counts. And it will be no different at Medinah.