My Ryder Cup: David Livingstone
“A journalist wrote in the national newspaper a searing critique of the whole thing. He was a friend of mine, but he called me lightweight in his report and I didn't speak to him for ten years after that.
“But he was right…
“I've never really admitted that before, but it's the truth.”
When people speak about the world of golf broadcasting, one of the first names that springs to mind for Sky Sports viewers would no doubt be presenter David Livingstone.
Starting at the UK broadcaster at its formation in 1990, the Scot quickly made his way over to golf in 1993 and never looked back.
Fast forward two years and Livingstone would be fronting Sky’s inaugural broadcast at The 1995 Ryder Cup – one which the former journalist will never forget.
“If I had the chance to do it all over again, knowing what I know now, then obviously I'd do things differently in places,” said Livingstone. “But that’s not to say I made a mess of anything.
“The people around me were so good, from the production team to the commentators, they made me look as good as I could. Unfortunately, I just couldn't make myself look that bit more experienced.
“That's my only regret.
“The 1995 Ryder Cup at Oak Hill was a step into the unknown. Anyone who watches The Ryder Cup knows that you're not going to get any sympathy for setting your alarm to two o’clock in the morning to be at the golf course for three. They just want to watch the TV when it comes on air.
“On that first morning, I remember feeling personally overwhelmed because I just felt I was so raw and inexperienced in the role. I did feel an incredible sense of fear and nervousness - it was all a bit overwhelming.
“Larry Mize was the studio guest and I will always remember, it was maybe 5.45 in the morning and we were due to be on air at 7am local time, and I said to Larry, 'should we go to the studio?'.
“It was a cold morning with a bit of frost around and we jumped on the buggy and we started down the hill from the compound towards the golf course and the buggy broke down! To me it was the end of the world. It was like a bad dream.
“And to his eternal credit, he got out and started pushing the buggy. A Masters Champion who is a studio guest is pushing the buggy trying to get us to the studio, and the studio was about a mile and a half away from the compound.
“When we got there the place was all frosted up! The last thing you think you need in September in Rochester is heating. Right up until 15 minutes from going on air, it was all of us trying to get frost off the windows.
“It was a really intimidating start to the whole thing and I don't know if I ever recovered from it. The whole week, I always felt as if I was behind the game.
“It's not about us, though.
“The event took over Saturday afternoon. That's when I only really managed to start to enjoy the event. The sun came out, it was neck and neck, and you're thinking my goodness, this European team of old war horses have a chance.”
However, at the close of play that Saturday at Oak Hill, Corey Pavin chipped in to gift the American side a two-point lead heading into the final day singles.
It’s not just the players who feel deflated at times like these, but everyone from the European fans to media working at the event also feel slightly disheartened.
“The Sunday morning, I just had a terrible feeling of foreboding about the day ahead. But somehow, Europe began to turn it around,” he said.
“We were underdogs in TV then because everyone was still comparing us to the BBC and saying that we just didn't do things the way the BBC did them. But we were relating to the team because they were the underdogs.
“Mid-afternoon, I was looking over at the table where Ewen Murray and Bruce Critchley were commentating and I could see this box of tissues in the middle of them. It was being pushed one way and pulled the other. The two of them were just sitting and the tears were rolling down their faces as they were commentating.
“I can remember the emotion when it was all over and we got back to the compound. We all stood around the trucks at the compound and I just remember it was almost uncontrollably emotional - it really was strange.
“I've never experienced anything like it since.”
One person who made a cameo appearance at Oak Hill was Butch Harmon, who was a guest in the studio as his brother Craig was the club professional.
One thing is for sure, wherever David went Butch wouldn’t be far behind.
And, at The 2018 Ryder Cup, the pair would link up to broadcast together one final time.
“Butch and I were more than just colleagues”, he added. “We had a personal friendship that went well beyond that. We were very similar personalities and that's what brought us together.
“When it came to Le Golf National I knew I was retiring, but I think Butch still harboured notions of doing a few more broadcasts.
“We have people who drive us from the compound to the studio, but on that final morning I just wanted to do the walk one last time. And of course, Butch, my shadow, said he'd come along.
“The two of us walked from the compound and up between the 18th and the first hole, and we walked really slowly. It was around 6am and we both just talked about how lucky we were in every sense. After that, the rest of the day was going to be easy.
“It was a special journey up to the studio. It was a sentimental little journey which will always mean a lot to me.
“It wasn't really the end for him, but it was certainly going to be our last one together.
“It was a strange time for me because I was kind of happy and looking forward to retirement but also sad to be leaving Butch in a broadcast sense.”
However, eight years prior, the experienced Livingstone found himself in a completely new scenario when broadcasting at The 2010 Ryder Cup.
The event was held at Celtic Manor, Wales, but after a torrent of rain passed over the golf course during much of the day on Friday, play was suspended and in turn created a completely new challenge for the Glaswegian.
A seven hour and 45 minute challenge to be precise.
“That was possibly my most enjoyable day ever presenting.
“I’m sure the fans didn’t enjoy it, as they just wanted to watch golf, but selfishly I enjoyed my little moment of doing what I was trained to do.
“I’ve never been the most natural broadcaster, but I’ve always been a natural journalist. That was a day where journalism was required more than broadcast ability.
“They just kept wheeling people into the studio and, because there was no time limit, there was no real structure other than Ryder Cup topics. I just had to keep it going and I really enjoyed the need to keep asking questions. They might not have been the best questions, but they were questions.
“I totally understood that on the first day of The Ryder Cup Sky couldn’t just go off air and show a re-run of a previous event, but the first hour or so no one really knew what we were going to do.”
Livingstone would finish his career at Sky having broadcast 12 Ryder Cups and becoming the cornerstone of golf broadcasts in the UK.
But which Ryder Cup was the Scot’s favourite?
“There will never ever be another week like that in ‘95 for me.
“I wish I remembered more about the detail of the tournament. I just feel that your own interests are to the fore and you are so busy concentrating on how to get your job done that you're not able to properly enjoy it.
“Had Europe not won it wouldn't have been the same. You wouldn't look back with the same feeling of affection or dread.
“That was our first taste of The Ryder Cup and I remember thinking thank god this only happens every two years. I couldn't go through that every year.”