Richard Hills has been responsible for delivery of the Ryder Cup since 1995 and last night in Dublin he shared some of the stories from that time with a special group gathered for the European Tour ‘Inside the Ropes’ initiative.
Those stories stretched from the powerful influence of Severiano Ballesteros through to the impact of global events like 9-11 and the collapse of Lehman Brothers, both of which occurred in the final stages of preparation for hosting the tournament.
Hills remains discreet in just how much he is willing to fully reveal in conversation on the microphone with me but the twinkle in his eye and the pauses before revealing just a little more were like catnip to the audience of golfing fans and business leaders in the room at the Dean Hotel.
He spoke in glowing terms of JP McManus and the team from Adare Manor on whom the responsibility and privilege of hosting the 2026 edition of the tournament will rest.
Hills was then joined by Dermot Whelan to tell us his story of growing up in Limerick and caddying for Mcmanus as a teenager through to shamelessly and successfully angling for a spot at the Dubai Duty-Free Irish Open Pro-Am at the course in June of this year.
He ended up having the day of his life playing alongside Ruby Walsh, Trevor Immelman and Brendan Lawlor who is representing Ireland in fine style in the world of disability golf around the world.
Mark Kennealy, the incoming CEO of Golf Ireland was in the room ahead of his starting full time with the new governing body next week.
2019 was a very special year for Irish Golf with Lahinch and the 148th Open Championship being staged at Royal Portrush. 2020 promise to be another and the next ‘Inside the Ropes’ event will take place at mount Juliet, early in the new year when we will get a taste of what will be laid on for the pros, and the pro-am players next May.
Inside the Ropes is a European tour initiative and is managed by Patrick Murphy of Atomic Sport. If you’d like to know more about it and perhaps get along to some of these special events you can register your interest at www.insidetheropes.ie
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