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Be 'Ryder Cup ready', clubs urged as 3000 Gleneagles tickets go up for grabs

Tickets for this year's Ryder Cup at Gleneagles are like gold dust.

In fact, you've probably got more chance of Lord Lucan emerging from a shop in Auchterarder High Street and handing you a poke of gold dust than you have of getting a brief for the biennial battle.

The sold-out signs were battered up a while ago but some 3000 tickets have been held over and are to be distributed among Scotland's golf clubs. They won't be dished out willy nilly, of course. As part of another initiative to create a legacy from the trans-Atlantic tussle's return to the home of golf for the first time in 41 years, the nation's clubs are being urged to, well, show some initiative.

Yesterday at Bathgate, the West Lothian club which spawned two Ryder Cup captains in Eric Brown and Bernard Gallacher, the Scottish Golf Union, the Scottish Ladies' ­Golfing Association, Clubgolf and VisitScotland launched a 'Ryder Cup Ready' toolkit aimed at helping clubs throughout the land capitalise on the opportunities that will come from staging such a vast event on Scottish soil.

Clubs will be invited to apply for tickets based on their running of a Ryder Cup-themed activity in the build-up to the September showdown. The successful clubs will be rewarded with two tickets for match days - they can cost between £120 and £140 - and up to eight practice day tickets which can range from between £35 and £45. A quick, average estimation means around £25,000 worth of tickets will be up for grabs.

Whether it's new incentives for junior members, inter-club matches or Ryder Cup-branded open days, the clubs that show the most imaginative, forward-thinking, open-minded and all-embracing approach to Ryder Cup year will be the ones rewarded. "One club not far from Gleneagles even has Ryder Cup-designed toilet paper," reported Jackie Davidson, Clubgolf manager. They might need a few rolls of that if the Perthshire skirmish is anything like the tension-packed Miracle of Medinah of 2012.

"We can't underestimate that this is the third-most-watched sporting event next to the Olympics and World Cup," added Davidson. "Everybody became experts in track cycling when it was on. We want everybody to be experts in golf but not just sat on the sofa. We want them to pick up a club, like the Wimbledon effect gets people into tennis, and give golf a try.

"Clubs need to embrace the family-friendly approach, not just be family-tolerant. The toolkit is a call to action. It's about clubs being pro-active and telling communities what they are doing to get people down to the club. This scheme is about identifying those who have not buried their head in the sand but, instead, have been innovative in keeping the club alive."

Next month, the European Challenge Tour's Scottish Hydro Challenge will become the 50th event to be supported by EventScotland as part of the successful Ryder Cup bid. The Women's British Open has backing through to 2019 and will be played here four times in that period, the Ladies Scottish Open has support to 2018 and Clubgolf, the national junior initiative, is secured until 2018. With Aberdeen Asset Management and the Scottish Government committed to the Scottish Open until 2017, the investment is far-reaching.

Now, the clubs are being encouraged to tap into the feelgood factor. "This is the part where we inspire golf clubs; the Ryder Cup is for them," added Mike Cantlay, chairman of Visitscotland. "Scotland will stop for this and every golfer should feel a part of it. There's never been a better year for clubs to move forward. The shame will be if there's one club or one golfer who says 'the Ryder Cup didn't do anything for us'."

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