My Ryder Cup: Mitchell Pierce
“It's got the history. It's got the rivalry. It's got the world's best golfers. It really does have everything.
“It is totally different and it feels much bigger than a normal golf tournament.
“Me and some friends got a camper van when Tottenham got into the Champions League Final and we headed to Madrid for that. It was great and I do like my football, I always have, but for me The Ryder Cup will always be the pinnacle.”
For many sports fans, attending a Ryder Cup match is very much bucket list item. But for Mitchell Pierce, a golf fan from Hertfordshire, England, it is now an event he couldn’t imagine missing.
The 35-year-old hasn’t missed a Ryder Cup in person since the 2014 edition held at Gleneagles.
And with three consecutive appearances under his belt supporting Team Europe from the grandstands, Pierce believes golf’s greatest team contest is only getting bigger and better.
“Going up to Gleneagles for my first Ryder Cup in 2014, I didn't really know what to expect,” Pierce said. “I was getting up at some ridiculous hours, like 3.30am, but it was so worth it. I’d never experienced anything like The Ryder Cup.
“The two Ryder Cups after that, I made sure I was staying near the course so the starts weren't quite as early, but that first one was special.
“At Gleneagles, Billy Foster and some of the caddies came into the fan bar late on Sunday night after the win. They threw their bibs, tees and whatever else into the crowds. It was the cherry on the cake for a lot of fans.
“It’s also an experience you don’t really get in many other sports, so it made it just that little bit more special for me.”
“Having said that, The 2018 Ryder Cup was the best of the three I've been to for sure. The whole event was incredible. The course, from a fans’ perspective, was perfect. The greens were in a bowl and there were so many hills at the side of the fairways, so you knew you would be able to see the action as well as two or three holes at once from the same spot. It really was amazing for spectators.
“I mean, the grandstand was unbelievable. I don't remember how many people were there, something around 8,000 people, but the noise was crazy.
“In 2014 at Gleneagles, the first tee up to that point was the biggest we'd had and the views were amazing but the one in Paris, just because of the size, was crazy. I certainly wouldn't want to be teeing off in front of that crowd.”
What was unique about the 12 handicapper’s visit to Le Golf National was the fact he attended the first two days on his own.
However, that didn’t stop the Englishman enjoying the event and proved just how friendly and accommodating the European crowd are.
“I went on my own for the first two days of The 2018 Ryder Cup, then one of my mates joined me on the Sunday,” Pierce added. “The thing is with European fans, no matter where you are on the course, it's so easy to make friends.
“It's almost in the same respect as the players in terms of the fact they're 12 individual players of different nationalities, all coming together in one team.
“And that filters down to the fans.
“You get a whole mix of fans but at that point in time you're just all European. You have a common interest. It really was fantastic.
“I certainly remember the drinks after we'd won. I don't think I even saw Alex Noren finish his match. I was on 16 when we won and I can just remember looking at my mate and we headed straight to the bar.
“I remember a South African bloke was supporting Europe and he was just handing out free drinks because he was so happy Europe had won. It was quite late by the time they kicked us all out.
“We also met a guy on the Sunday and he really looked like Tommy Fleetwood. He had similar hair. On the way out we had him on our shoulders and everyone was chanting the Fleetwood and Molinari song to him. It was just pure joy that night. It really was great.
“The camaraderie between European fans, and American fans for that matter, really is brilliant.”
For many, attending a home Ryder Cup match would be enough.
But not for Pierce.
He also attended his first away match in 2016, when America and Europe locked horns at Hazeltine.
“The away experience is completely different,” Pierce said. “That's the only away match I've done.
“I've seen us win at home but obviously not away...yet.
“It's definitely a mission of mine to see us win away. I think if you witnessed us win away it would be even more special.
“I'm gutted I wasn’t at Medinah.
“An away match is incredibly different because you're outnumbered 20 to one. We always go into The Ryder Cup thinking we're underdogs so that's what makes it for us. We always take that underdog mentality.
“But when you’re on American soil, you really feel like underdogs.
“If you were to win away and be part of that as a fan or player, that would be something special.
“I stayed in the heart of Minnesota in 2016. It was great fun. You do get your hardcore American fans but there is a great deal of respect. The atmosphere away from the course was great and everyone I met there was amazing.
“On the bus back from the course I met an American band that were playing that night and they invited me to their show. It was really good.
“The atmosphere at the course that year got a bit tasty in places, which is upsetting, but it was only a small group. On the whole, it was a great experience.”
Now, as somewhat of a Ryder Cup veteran, Pierce has this advice for those who may be attending the biennial contest for the first time at Whistling Straits.
“Make sure you get up early! It only comes around every two years for three days, so make sure you get to the course for the first tee experience.
“Work out the good spots to watch from on your first day too. For example, you could get a grandstand seat on the third hole let’s say, but if you sit at the top of that and look behind you can see a whole number of holes. There are a lot of places at golf courses where you can enjoy action on several different holes. I prefer getting a spot and letting groups comes through.
“And just be louder than the Americans!
“I've spent a lot of my money and time on this event the last eight years because I think it really does offer that ultimate sporting experience.”