What has 45,0000 spectators, 9000 staff, 28 kitchens, 20 Access Buddies and the Kelpies...
An average day at this year’s Ryder Cup!
The biennial men’s golf competition is contested by teams from Europe and the United States with the venue alternating between courses in the US and Europe. This year the Ryder Cup comes to Scotland, the home of golf and to Gleneagles.
We wondered how accessible this event would be so went to Gleneagles a couple of days ago whilst final preparations were still being put in place…
The first thing we were interested in is how people would get there. It is expected that most spectators will take the train and Gleneagles Station has recently been refurbished with many disabled access improvements having been made. Gleneagles Station is very close to the event and if you have mobility requirements there will be accessible transport between the two. If you’re driving then there is dedicated parking for Blue Badge holders, this is still a fair way from the event so there is an accessible bus that will transport you to the event. If you do have mobility requirements then you can contact the event to request a space closer to the event and you will be able to park nearby. Please note that you have to do this in advance - you can’t just do this on arrival. On arrival or if you do need any help look out for the Access Buddies - they’re the guys in red caps - more on those later!
The main entrance is ramped and you’ll see these blue carpeted ramps & walkways repeated throughout the event. It was good to see that the main ramps & walkways to be wide enough for two wheelchair users to pass each other and had gradients and flat sections so you can get a break from pushing. Activity centres on the Spectator Village where there are shops, food outlets and bars. There is a walkway throughout the Village and ramps into all the different areas.
One of the things that we were very keen to see were the accessible loos. These are located with the Ladies & the Gents and again have ramped access. There is a separate loo for Baby Changing which is great and the accessible toilets themselves are spacious and well laid out.
Signage was still being put up whilst we were there but it was already looking good. One of the things we loved was the Kelpies. These are the to scale versions that the rather larger counterparts were modelled on - we’re sure there will be lots of #KelpieSelfie pictures to come!
Wheelchair access to the course itself is good with the Golf Buggy paths being used to maximum effect. Wheelchair users can follow the paths between the holes and around the course. One thing we didn’t get to see was the accessible seating - this was because the platforms were still being built and there will be 4 platforms around the course. And the last point to make was that of assistance dogs - we’re told that there will be a dedicated doggy loo and water bowls around the course.
We also had a sneak peek into some of the areas that members of the public wouldn’t usually get to see…
The Media Centre was an eye opener! Desks and power sockets as far as the eye could see with a giant screen at the front which will be showing all the action. Positions have the name of the news organisation on them and there is ramped access to this and also to the interview room which I’m sure that we’ll see as a backdrop lots in the days to come!
We also got shown around one of the hospitality suites - The Argyle.
Again there was a good sized ramp leading up to the entrance and wide entrance doors. These hospitality suites are all slightly different but all have lifts and a disabled loo on each floor (as well as their own kitchen!). The balcony in the suite that we were in was the only real disappointment of the day as the top of the balcony was right in the eye line for Gary our reviewer who was using a powerchair. The accessible loo we checked out was spacious and had been finished off with high end chrome fittings and we loved the signage!
One of the favourite parts of the visit was the 'tunnel' this is where the players will emerge from before they tee off... Strange to think McIlroy et al will be heading through this very tunnel in the days to come!
We were at Gleneagles at the same time as VisitScotland and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People were delivering training to the Access Buddies. These guys are in addition to the spectator assistance and will be wearing distinctive red caps.
Philip Biggs, the Access & Inclusion Manager for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People said “Gleneagles is a fabulous venue and the Ryder Cup team have done a lot of work on making the event accessible” he added “it’s often the simple things that make people feel welcome and the Access Buddies seemed genuinely interested in learning”
We also spoke to one of the Access Buddies following the training who said “The most interesting things for me today were learning about invisible disabilities, learning how some disabled people feel anxiety in visiting places for the first time and information can make so much difference."
Overall we were really impressed by the work that has gone into making the event accessible. If you’re heading along to experience it yourself this week please let us know what you thought and write a short review.
Thanks very much to VisitScotland and the Ryder Cup Team (especially Antonia) for this behind the scenes tour!