Security at the 34th Ryder Cup golf tournament in England is at unprecedented levels. The event was postponed from last year following the terrorist attacks in the United States. Spectators are seeing much more than golf at the Belfry course.
Airport style security checkpoints and security personnel with automatic rifles are in plain view as fans enter the Belfry. Bags, mobile telephones and audible pagers are among the banned items. Parking is far from the course and spectators are not allowed to walk to the gate, instead having to ride on special shuttle busses. Taxis have no direct access to the venue.
U.S. team captain Curtis Strange says none of the measures have disturbed his players. "We have all traveled around the world and played competitive golf," he said. "And this is not anything unusual when you go to some other places around the world. So I think we feel quite comfortable and safe."
Armed police are being deployed as part of the massive security operation, and event organizers say measures to safeguard stars from Europe and the United States include closed-circuit television and up to 1,200 marshals, security guards and police around the course.
Still, Colin Montgomery of Scotland says dealing with the maze of security is not the most difficult aspect of playing in the Ryder Cup. "There is a lot of people here," said Montgomery. "The stands are full right now. And it can get quite tense, even for the rookies I suppose as well. And it is tiring to have to sign autographs between the greens and the tees and to have all the crowd well-wishing and everything."
Local authorities have also assigned a total of 24 officers to escort each of the golfers taking part in the tournament and protect them from potential problems with close fan contact.