By Sheldon S. Shafer
The Ryder Cup teams won't tee off at Valhalla Golf Club for a year, but Louisville already is making plans for a community celebration.
Stockbroker and civic leader Stan Curtis, founder of Kentucky Harvest and chairman of the Louisville Ryder Cup Host Committee, said the goal is to "make sure that all citizens feel like they are a part of the Ryder Cup, even if they don't go to the golf course."
The Ryder Cup, which is held every other year, pits 12 of America's best golfers against 12 top players from Europe. The competition will be staged next Sept. 19-21.
Nearly 20,000 visitors, many of them from Europe, are expected in Louisville. Tourism officials have estimated the local economic impact of the Ryder Cup at $115 million.
While Ryder Cup tickets start at $40 on practice days and increase from there, topping out at $1,800 for admission to the posh Samuel Ryder Club on the final Sunday, admission to most events will be a pin costing $3 at Meijer stores and $5 elsewhere. They will go on sale next spring, said Karl Schmitt, spokesman for the city's host committee.
The city put up $100,000 to support activities during Ryder Cup week, among them:
The Cup Experience, Sept. 16-20, will focus on golf and use 300,000 square feet in the Kentucky International Convention Center.
The event, sponsored by Meijer, will include an indoor driving range, golf simulators, demonstrations, product and equipment displays. There also will be arts and crafts, entertainment, food and children's activities. Large-screen TVs will carry NBC's live coverage of the competition.
The Cup Village, nightly Sept. 17-21 at 4th Street Live. Fourth Street will be closed off and live concerts each evening will feature national and local music talent.
Soiree Under the Spires, a cocktail reception with golf celebrities at Churchill Downs on Sept. 19. Tickets will be $500 for the casual event, which will include a silent auction, Schmitt said. One or more charities will benefit, he said.
The Fightmaster Cup, Sept. 12-14 at the Cardinal Club golf course in Simpsonville. Twelve one-armed golfers from Europe will compete against 12 one-armed American golfers in a Ryder Cup-style format.
The event honors Don Fightmaster of Louisville, a five-time winner of the National Amputee Golf Tournament.
The Cup Taste of Nations, Sept. 5 and 6 and Sept. 13 and 14 on the Riverfront Plaza/Belvedere. Dozens of booths featuring international arts and crafts and cuisine will be set up, with an emphasis on the countries represented by the European Ryder Cup players.
The Cup Concert Celebration, a performance by the Louisville Orchestra and the Monarchs, Sept. 20 at Middletown Commonwealth Bank off Shelbyville Road. Fireworks will cap the evening.
In addition, a state Ryder Cup committee is organizing a statewide amateur golf tournament that will have preliminary rounds next summer and the finals at Valhalla just before the Ryder Cup. Schmitt said details are not final.
Louisville's Ryder Cup events will be formally announced today by Mayor Jerry Abramson at a press conference at 10:30 a.m. at 4th Street Live.