Protin Nalke is one lucky fan. The Frenchman and proud Team Europe follower won the chance of a lifetime to lift The Ryder Cup himself as he hosted the trophy for a day at his home in Bordeaux, and at his local golf club Garden Golf de Margaux, after winning the #LiftTheRyderCup competition launched back in May.
Protin told us why the Ryder Cup should come to Bordeaux in his competition entry, and the clear passion he showed in his entry helped the 32 year old beat thousands of other entrants to the unique prize.
The 35 handicapper made the most of his opportunity by taking the famous Samuel Ryder trophy on a whistle-stop tour of the south west city and his golf club, where plenty of its members were eagerly awaiting its arrival.
“I feel privileged and blessed to have this opportunity,” he said.
“It’s an opportunity of a lifetime and I couldn’t believe it when I found out I had actually won. I feel so humbled and could have never imagined something like this happening to me.
“I started playing golf in 2010 and I became addicted very quickly, but now I’m married and I have kids so I have to keep my love for the sport under control.”
For Protin, who also received items from the official Ryder Cup fanwear range, watching The Ryder Cup in Wales in 2010 proved to be the inspiration he needed to take up the game.
He said: “I started playing after watching the Ryder Cup in 2010 at Celtic Manor, and the end of that tournament was amazing, but that was nothing in comparison to the Miracle of Medinah in 2012. This was a moment that sealed my passion for golf and for the European Team.
“I’m French and it’s important to support Europe, so The Ryder Cup is a competition that deserves respect and the support of the European people.”
The English teacher was made to feel like a star with a Ryder Cup Europe camera crew and team following him every step of the way on his special day, and although he clearly cherished the experience, sharing his passion and seeing the reaction to the trophy was what he enjoyed the most.
“Golf is such a great sport and I try to share my passion for golf to my friends whenever I can,” he said.
“Golf is such a great sport and I try to share my passion for golf to my friends whenever I can,” Protin Nalke.
“To see all of these true golf-lovers have the trophy at their club makes me very proud. They deserve this opportunity, for me this day was all about sharing, and I feel so happy that I achieved this.
“At first, people some of them didn’t believe me when I said I’d be bringing The Ryder Cup to my club. Some people were really doubting it, and said no way, but now they’ve seen it and they’ve seen The Ryder Cup face-to-face and I’m delighted for them.”
As well as being a golfer himself, Protin is a studious fan of the game and thinks the 2016 edition of the biennial contest will be another memorable event; and he is also hugely optimistic about his country hosting The Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in 2018.
“Even if we have some rookies on the team, I’m optimistic. As a proud European you always have to back your team, but Team USA will be such a tough opponent. I can see a draw and us retaining The Ryder Cup, which would be great.
“And then to host The Ryder Cup in 2018 will be incredible, as it will allow more people to experience this great event and help grow the game further right here in France.”