“You Are Only as Good as Those You Surround Yourself With”
2008 RYDER CUP
By: Tara Guenthner, Owner & Creative Planner
Before opening the firm in 2012, I worked for The PGA of America for 20 years. After playing golf on scholarship at the University of North Carolina, I kickstarted my career as the PGA’s very first intern and was assigned to the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island. 17 short years later, I was named Tournament Director of the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club. I still look back at my PGA career with fondness; it was incredible life and learning experience.
When planning an event, those working close to the heart of the operation can discern when they’ve, as we say, “turned the corner.” It’s a sense of readiness and confidence in the hard work that was done leading up to the event. Anyone in the industry will divulge that not all will go as planned, but nothing gets one of us through a “fire” quite like being well-prepared from the start.
On the eve of the Ryder Cup, I was completely confident that we were ready – we had “turned the corner.” I felt so good about our preparations, in fact, that I left for home prior to 9:00 p.m. (unheard of!). I remember distinctly making my way down the long drive of Valhalla to head home. The sunset glistened, birds were singing, flags were saluting, and there was music in the air (at least, this is how I remember it). It was a wonderfully proud and private celebration to treasure prior to our 24-hour countdown to showtime.
I awoke to mayhem.
That morning, one day prior to Team Europe’s arrival, Hurricane Ike raged through Louisville.
The winds were unusually intense, and the city was covered with widespread damage. Schools were closed for a week and thousands across the city were left without power for days-on-end.
Most of the 3+ year beautifully planned and executed details were literally blown away, and what remained were fallen trees and television towers. Hospitality tent custom ceiling liners and brilliantly branded banners that once covered the grandstands at Hole 1 were ruined. For the crew of people who had committed years of focus and planning for this 6-day international event, it was devastating.
But only for a moment.
What followed in the next 24 hours was a miraculous tribute to the power of teamwork.
The city hurdled to assure the site’s power. Our event vendors, the Valhalla grounds crew, PGA officials, club staff, and many, many others showed up that day wearing red capes. Together, we worked tirelessly to get the site back on its hurricane-damaged-back-to-life feet.
From the insider’s perspective, the site never got back to perfect. But it was better than good. And it never would have been without such an exceptional team.
One of Hipp Inspired’s mantras remains to this day – you are only as good as those you surround yourself with! Thank you to our partners then and now.