Students, players help at Ryder Cup

By on September 16, 2008

By Catherine Laroche

For University of Louisville students who aren’t familiar with the Ryder Cup, Seth Ganshirt, junior psychology student, described it as the “Olympics of golf.”
“I think the Ryder Cup is a great event for golf,” Ganshirt said. “The intensity just goes up to another level, because golf is an individual sport, but in this event it becomes a team concept in playing for your country.”
Today is the official kickoff of the 37th Ryder Cup. Avid golf fans, celebrities and even U of L students will pile into Valhalla Golf Club to watch some of the world’s top golfers compete for the Ryder Cup championship.
“It’s amazing to think Louisville is hosting such a big international event,” Larry Sinclair, director of regional hospitality sales, said. “In past years it was in Detroit and Boston, so it’s great to have it in Louisville. I think that in a city the size of Louisville, we make a bigger splash with it because in a big city things tend to get lost. Louisville knows how to take a big event and make it even bigger. The city knows how to welcome these guests and make everyone feel special.”
Dustin Thorn and Anita Moorman, sport administration professors at U of L, have been working closely with Sinclair since March to get 50 sport administration students involved with the Ryder Cup by volunteering to help with the hospitality aspect of such a big event. They’ve been helping set up corporate tables, viewing suites and over 60 chalets that seat anywhere from 50 to 300 people; in which, approximately 200 local, national and international corporations have bought.
During the actual event, the students will be doing different types of guest service work, such as working with parking, food service, concierge information booth, helping guests make dinner and hotel reservations and giving directions. Their focus is to make the guests feel very welcomed.
Gregory Greenhalgh, sport administration professor and second year sport administration Ph D student, is one of the volunteers at the Ryder Cup. He helped set up the corporate villas by placing the PGA Journals in each of the chalets.
“Today was quite the learning experience,” Greenhalgh said. “The sheer magnitude of the set up requirements was staggering. The logistics required to set up and execute such a huge event are often underestimated in my opinion.”
The students are divided into morning and afternoon shifts, so that they could work one shift and spend the rest of the day having fun and watching the Ryder Cup each day.
“For us, it was a real privilege to participate early on and integrate it with an actual class,” Moorman said. “An event like this may never come to Louisville again, so this is a singularly unique opportunity. We’ve been very excited.”
Thorn is teaching an Event Management class at U of L that is volunteering at the Ryder Cup. His objectives for the class are to emphasize a connection between the content covered in class and how it’s relatable to what the students are going to experience in the real world with major sporting events such as the Ryder Cup.
Thorn wants the class to concentrate on things like sport tourism, the economic impact and the hospitality, while making comparisons of this Ryder Cup to other Ryder Cups, other World Cups and the Olympic games. He also hopes that the class will see the value that the experience will have on their resume and stimulate them to  volunteer more often.
The U of L men’s and women’s golf teams are also volunteering at the Ryder Cup. On Monday, the women’s golf team welcomed the European team and took care of their luggage. They will also be helping with the opening and closing ceremonies.
“It means a lot, because it is good exposure for our program and for the city of Louisville,” Sara-Maude Juneau, sophomore women’s golfer, said. “I am really excited. I can’t wait to see the players in person, and look forward to seeing them play.”
Although many students and athletes are volunteering, many others are going to experience the big event as a fan. Ganshirt, bought four tickets from stubhub.com in February for $400. He’s a big Tiger Woods fan, but with Woods not participating in the event, Ganshirt is looking forward to watching Kentucky natives J.B. Holmes and Kenny Perry play.
“I love the Ryder Cup,” Ganshirt said. “I don’t think I would miss this event for anything. I am most looking forward to the atmosphere surrounding the Ryder Cup. It only happens in the U.S. every four years so just mostly the excitement and anticipation surrounding the event.”

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