In their own words: Keith Pelley

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir January 6, 2019 09:45

Writing exclusively for The Golf Business, the CEO of the European Tour reviews an incredible 2018.

Almost as soon as I put the final full stop on my last column for these pages in September, I headed for the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National on the outskirts of Paris. Therefore, there is only one story for me to write this time round.

Keith Pelley

To say the week in France was spectacular would be a massive understatement. It was certainly the greatest event I have been involved with in golf and it is also up there with many of the great global sporting occasions I have been fortunate to attend over the years.

On the course, Team Europe – led by our indomitable captain Thomas Bjørn – were immense against arguably one of the strongest American teams ever assembled. Even at 3-1 down after Friday morning’s fourball session, there was belief in the plan, and that was borne out by the fact the home side won nine of the next 12 points to take a 10-6 lead into Sunday’s singles.

That scoreline is, of course, synonymous with incredible Ryder Cup final day comebacks from both sides (the Americans at Brookline in 1999 and the Europeans at Medinah in 2012) so there was certainly no complacency in the European team room on the Saturday night. But any American hopes of a third turnaround from 10-6 were extinguished on a sensational Sunday as Europe ran out 17½-10½ winners.

Off the course, the success story continued. In the run-up to the event I heard many comments that the French public – without a Frenchman in the team – would not support the event and the crowds in general would be poor.

The fact that the largest attendance in the event’s history – over 270,000 people for the week – turned up, including 43 per cent of people from France, answered the first part of that accusation and anyone who was part of the unbelievable first tee atmosphere would tell you they had never seen, or heard, anything like it.

Across the course the atmosphere was tremendous too and what changed the dynamic in that respect, I believe, were the huge video screens positioned right across the 18 holes and in the Tented Village. I remember being at Hazeltine in 2016 and being troubled by the fact that people were 15-20 deep in the crowds and not able to see any of the action. The screens at Le Golf National solved that problem and really were a game changer.

From an operations point of view, our Ryder Cup attention turns to our next home match, in 2022, at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club on the outskirts of Rome, while Team Europe look ahead to their defence of Samuel Ryder’s famous trophy at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin in September 2020.

We will, of course, have a new captain for that contest. I will reflect on that appointment, and other matters pertaining to the European Tour, in my next column. Until then, may I wish you a happy new year and all the best for 2019.

To find out more about European Tour events, visit


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir January 6, 2019 09:45
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1 Comment

  1. Stuart January 7, 18:18

    Keith Pelley says what a great event the Ryder Cup is but fails to consider making it available to everyone. In my view the Ryder Cup, The Open and the Masters are the greatest golf events yet unless you can afford Sky you will see nothing of the first two events. I appreciate the Open is under the control of the R&A but their policy seems exactly the same.

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