Remember the electric wing suit BMW showed off last year, with stunt pilot Peter Salzmann at the controls? For the 2020 Ryder Cup, held this weekend at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, BMW, a worldwide partner of the Ryder Cup for 2021 and 2023, resurrected a similar idea. A crew of three wing suit pilots delivered the Ryder Cup trophy to the opening ceremony for the competition, with the trophy contained in a special case designed by BMW’s Designworks.
The three pilots descended from an altitude of 10,000 feet above the golf course after jumping from a helicopter, a process which is documented in a video posted to the BMW USA YouTube channel that you can watch below. Salzmann’s descent was aided by a BMW-branded parachute, and moments after touching down, the stunt pilot hopped in a BMW iX with the trophy that had been safely transported in the specially-designed case. On the way down, each of the pilots wore wing suits adorned with the BMW roundel, with yellow, red, and blue Ryder Cup-themed smoke trailing behind them.
“The Ryder Cup is of significant importance in the golfing and sporting world,” said Stefan Ponikva, vice president of brand communication and brand experience BMW Group. “This contest casts its spell over the competitors and teams, just as it does the enthusiastic spectators at the course and the many fans watching from the edge of their seats all over the world. To acknowledge the prominent position of this competition, and to celebrate the premiere of BMW as Worldwide Partner of the Ryder Cup, we wanted to make the arrival of the trophy particularly special. To do so, we created a unique case for the trophy, which is both innovative and representative.”
“When asked to work on this project connected to the historical Ryder Cup event, it was something that excited me to be a part of,” said Tommy Forsgren, Designworks Lead Designer. “We just knew it had to be a product that blends the BMW i excitement for technology with the prestigious and honorable aspects surrounding the event itself. The case design is a true innovative BMW I product—its premium qualities and exclusivity matching the new BMW iX in terms of color and material finish.”
The U.S. Team won the 43rd Ryder Cup with a final score of nineteen to nine. Originally scheduled for 2020, the biennial competition between the U.S. and Europe was postponed to September 2021 by the PGA of America, and is set to be held during odd years going forward, with the President’s Cup (won by the U.S. in 2019) being held during even years. The American team had not won the Ryder Cup since 2016, when it was held at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. The 2021 victory by Team U.S.A was country’s largest winning margin since 1981, when the final score was 18.5 to 9.5. The U.S. team also had the highest number of Ryder Cup rookies since 2008, one of whom was Patrick Cantlay, the winner of the riveting 2021 BMW Championship, held at Caves Valley Golf Club in Maryland.
“Congratulations to the United States team on winning the Ryder Cup after an exciting competition,” added Ponikva. “This past week in Whistling Straits has shown once again why the Ryder Cup is able to captivate so many people all over the world, and why it is a sporting event like no other. As Worldwide Partner, BMW has underlined its status as an outstanding partner for the game of golf. With the “Ultimate Journey,” we have created an unforgettable moment.”
BMW’s partnership with the Ryder Cup dates back to 2006, and will continue on through 2023, when the competition returns in Rome, Italy. During the 2021 Ryder Cup, 200 BMW Group vehicles were used to provide premium shuttle service, while 400 BMW guests enjoyed exceptional hospitality and a view of the sixteenth green at Whistling Straits. In addition to the iX used as part of the Ultimate Journey production, the BMW i4 Gran Coupé was also on display, in addition Salzmann’s wing suit and the BMW Designworks trophy case.
The trophy case, conceived by California-based BMW Designworks, measures approximately 22 inches tall and ten winches wide, and weighs nearly twelve pounds. Constructed of aluminum with a 3D-printed space frame that allows the trophy to be viewed even when the case is closed, the specialized capsule protected the gold trophy, that dates back to 1927, during its 10,000 foot descent, which took approximately two minutes with a stop speed of nearly 143 mph.
Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, a veteran of Team Europe with six Ryder Cup appearances, gave an emotional interview as the event was concluding: “It is by far the best experience in golf, and I hope the boys and girls watching this today will aspire to play in this event, or the Solheim Cup, because there’s nothing better than being a part of a team, especially with the bond that we have in Europe.”
”I’ve never won a major, but this is my major,” added Steven Stricker, the captain of the American team, after securing victory.—Alex Tock
[Photos and video courtesy BMW AG.]