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Jim is blessed with one of golf’s great opportunities to inform an increasingly knowledgeable audience about the myriad factors that impact on the game


“We


strive to be as


accommodating as we can,” he explains, “but there are some issues to discuss, such as the positions of fixed cameras on the course and the increasing use of hand-held ones.” Flexibility is the key in such negotiations, Jim contends. Work on the course has to take account of factors such as the media’s need to nail the best possible camera angles for coverage. “If we are planning any changes to the course, such as fairway shapes, clearly that could affect camera positions, so we will talk through any plans well beforehand.”


Jim and his team go to great lengths to ensure optimum coverage of any event, cutting off tree branches that might be interfering with the view down the course for instance.


The commitment to communications is ‘massive’, Jim acknowledges. “It’s a question of ensuring that we have a backbone of operations, facilities and a full IT department.”


The incident when the Internet went down at the Wales Open “cannot happen again” says Jim. “Too many people were using it on site, but we had back-up and that got us up and running again quickly.” The newly upgraded IT and communications system at the resort should ensure such a potential


catastrophe is not repeated. As the owner, sponsor and promoter of the Wales Open tournament, Celtic Manor Resort wants to put on as good a show as it possibly can, Jim maintains. "A total of 120 countries televised the event last year, with 20 to 25 hours of live television broadcast, including the Golf Channel in the US and Sky’s Golf Night programme. When you compare that amount of coverage with what it would cost in advertising, you can see how much it means to us to get everything just right. It’s a big marketing exercise for us and one that we have to take full advantage of.” Jim is blessed with one of golf’s great opportunities to delve beneath the surface to inform an increasingly knowledgeable audience about the myriad factors that impact on the game.


“I do quite a lot of TV during the


Wales Open,” he says. “We have forty-five to fifty greenkeepers working on the course, so there’s ample scope to produce an interesting piece.


“Lots of times during the day


there is nothing going on, or perhaps nobody is making a move through the field. That’s when I give the media the story of Celtic Manor Resort to get our message across. Live coverage is not all about golfing action.” The tale of


telecommunications tycoon and resort-owner Sir Terry Matthews’ birth at the former nursing home on the site (now the headquarters of the Wales Golf Union) and his mission to create ‘golf for


everyone’ on such a titanic scale is miraculous enough, but Jim then focuses on the game in hand. “I’ll comment on the condition of the


greens and the types of grass grown on different parts of the course - that way we are informing the public about the factors on course that influence play. It’s important that we try to get the media to say something that we want them to say. We understand that they are the conduit by which we convey our message to the rest of the world. That's why we aim to look after them.” Celtic Manor’s hospitality for the


Wales Open extends to press days, when the media are invited to the resort for briefings and a chance to look over the course, Jim explains. Good relations with the media are paramount he knows only too well. “One bad comment is all it takes to ruin a good reputation,” he states. Last year, for example, persistently heavy rain was followed by warm sun, creating a surge in grass growth, and the opportunity to explain why greens might be slower because of the weather. Factors such as these can create added colour, filling out the story for viewers. Still some twenty months away, The


Ryder Cup is promising more fixed and hand-held cameras to cover the action than ever before, so the preparation has to be that much more ‘belt and braces’. “At the Wales Open, only the leaders


were followed using hand-helds but, for the Ryder Cup, they look likely to be used throughout the event.” This can place added pressure on the groundstaff, Jim points out.


Six to eight days out, scaffolding will arrive on site, the backbone of the temporary structures for television cameras. The weekend before, cables are laid through the rough to the


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