Ryder Cup boss says £75 fee is fair way to go

Patricia Ferguson: fee criticised
Patricia Ferguson: fee criticised
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A European Ryder Cup ­official has claimed that a £75 registration fee volunteers are being charged to work at next year’s Gleneagles event will weed out time wasters.

Ryder Cup operations ­director Antonia Beggs said the widely criticised fee had been introduced after the 2006 Ryder Cup in Ireland.

“The K Club was a fantastic venue, but one of the key issues was that the volunteers didn’t necessarily stick around to do their crowd marshalling jobs all day,” she said.

“After the event, we sat down with the chief marshal and our volunteer co-ordinators and they said the only way we could sort it out was by introducing a registration fee. That separates the genuine article from the rest.

“My job is to deliver an incredible spectator experience, so I want to get the best people as volunteers. I’m not remotely concerned what their age or background is so long as they deliver.”

Last week, Labour MSP ­Patricia Ferguson said the fee would exclude many young Scots. Stephen Boyd, assistant secretary of the STUC, said the scheme was “unacceptable” and designed to ­attract middle-class recruits.

But Beggs said their criticism was misplaced. As well as the 1,800 volunteers being sought to assist spectators and work on the course, a further 5,000 paid jobs will be available in areas such as security, parking and catering.

“In 2010, we worked with the Prince of Wales’ trust [Prince’s Trust]. Some young people who had criminal records but had turned their lives around worked on the scoreboards at Celtic Manor. That was a great thing to have on their CVs,” she said.

Although volunteer fees are routine when the Ryder Cup is held in America, they were only introduced in ­Europe at Celtic Manor.

“The fee was £50 and there wasn’t a single complaint,” Beggs added. “We had 2,000 applicants for 1,200 places.”

Despite the negative publicity over the £75 registration fee for the Perthshire event, more than 8,000 applications were received on the first day alone. Applicants will be told if they have been successful in mid-April.

“We have put the fee up, but the conditions for the volunteers will be much ­better,” claimed Beggs. “They will have to work for a minimum of five days, but only for four or five hours a day, which means they will have the rest of the time to watch the golf.

“They will get a £15 food voucher each day, worth £90 to those who work all six days. There was negative publicity over the £75 fee, but it wasn’t coming from our volunteers or golf fans. Over half of the applicants have been Scots, with the rest from 46 other countries, including one from Equatorial Guinea.”