Golf fans who haven’t pocketed a precious ticket for the sport’s biggest showdown will be green with envy.
But while Europe and the United States do battle for the Ryder Cup in Gleneagles, the next best thing will be taking place 40 miles away in the Capital.
Golfers and their families can experience all the thrills of the tournament in the heart of the city after an interactive “fan zone” opened in St Andrew Square today.
Complete with golf simulator and putting green, the action will also be screened live on a giant telly so Lothian star Stephen Gallacher can be roared on by the home crowd.
Organisers said they were confident the free event would have a real “village feel”.
Richard Hills, director of Ryder Cup Europe, said: “The response to the arrival of the Ryder Cup in Scotland has been amazing with more people than ever set to see one of the world’s biggest sporting challenges live at Gleneagles.
“However, for those not able to get a ticket this has to be the next best thing with a real tented village feel and atmosphere, all for free thanks to the generosity of our partners.”
Other sections of the fan zone are being constructed and will open throughout the week.
A marquee is being put up around the Melville Monument, hosting two golf simulators and a tourist information stand. It’s surrounded by a pitch and putt area featuring a miniature representation of each of the country’s major golf courses.
Open to the public until the Ryder Cup is handed to the winning team on Sunday evening, the fan zone is one of three in Scotland, with the others in Glasgow and Perth.
Fans will be able to sit out on deck chairs, watching live coverage of the event on a 16ft by 10ft screen.
They can also attempt to hit a golf ball “from Gleneagles to Wentworth” via previous Ryder Cup courses such as The Belfry in Warwickshire.
Each person who strikes the ball on the golf simulator will take it a bit closer to the final destination, a total of 630 miles.
There will also be the chance to play the 18th hole of the PGA Centenary Course, with players choosing to help Team Europe or Team US.
The creation of the sporting hub is part of a campaign to cement Scotland’s reputation as the “home of golf”.
Pat Denzler, chairman of the John Rattray Statue Commission and member of the Leith Rules Golf Society, said: “The rules of golf were first set up in Leith and I think it’s great that they are celebrating Edinburgh’s connection to the sport, as well as Scotland’s as a whole. This will give everyone a chance to try it.”
VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay said: “It’s great to see that those who are unable to attend the event will be able to sample the excitement, drama and atmosphere at the fan zone. The buzz of the fan zone will reflect the excitement felt right across the country as we prepare for the best ever Ryder Cup.”
Let them eat cakes
THREE city firms will present the best of Scotland’s larder at the Land of Food & Drink show at the Ryder Cup.
Mara Seaweed, Shortbread House Edinburgh and Love Pure Cakes will be serving up artisan goods to help feed thousands of visitors.
James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink, said: “We are thrilled to unveil the line-up.”
US ready to take cup home
US captain Tom Watson led his team on to the tarmac at Edinburgh Airport and vowed to take the Ryder Cup home.
Watson – a much-loved character in Scotland – said the US team still suffered bad memories of their final-day collapse against Europe two years ago.
Stars including Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, and Webb Simpson featured as the US squandered a 10-4 lead
“This trip is a redemption trip,” Watson said.
Concert film to feature Capital duo
TWO well-known names from the Capital will star in a film heralding the Ryder Cup.
Kiltmaker Howie Nicholsby and Faith Liddell, below, the director of Festivals Edinburgh, both appear in the specially commissioned film to be shown during a Gala Concert at the Hydro in Glasgow on Wed-nesday.
High-lands to the Hydro showcases Scotland’s spectacular scenery as the camera sweeps over mountains and glens, through valleys, and across beaches and lochs on its way to Glasgow.
Howie is seen on the Royal Mile, while Faith is pictured amidst the buzz of the festival. Highland Games athlete Jamie Barr tosses a caber, Ross Martin plays the bagpipes, and battle re-enactor Robert Ballantyne strikes a warrior pose.