Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Has the Ryder Cup lost its Pure?

Ryder Cup golf is matchplay all the way. Mano-a-mano for 3 days (why not four?...but that's another story!) Matchplay is golf in its purest form and the way that many majors were decided for years before the advent of the TV led 4 rounds of strokeplay golf and those 5 hour rounds. The question is "Does the Ryder Cup remain pure and if not when did it lose?"

I have had the good fortune to attend many Ryder Cups over the years, including representing players in the team and it is fair to say that the event is unlike anything else in the world of professional golf. And most of it in a good way. The teams play a mixture of three formats over the Friday to Sunday competition - foursomes (or alternate shot in U.S. parlance), fourballs and singles match. The tension and pressure on the players is immense and the atmosphere at the course is very special. For the most part the partisanship outside of the ropes is in good spirits and this year both captains seem to be going over the top trying to kill each other with kindness. The true test will come on Friday morning when some poor soul has to be the first to hit the opening tee shot. Of course the hospitality tents and overpriced souvenirs are there in force, but hey, the PGA of America has to pay the bills.

For me the pure element that has been missing for many years has been the actual playing surface - the golf course. And once again this year we are treated to an average (ok, above average) golf course. With a choice of many great golf courses to choose from and the best the PGA of America can do is Medinah - and before that Valhalla and Oakland Hills. Still they are doing better in choosing golf courses than their European counterparts. The sorry tale of venues for the last seven Ryder Cups reads Celtic Manor, The K Club, The Belfry, (ok, Valderrama we like!) The Belfry, The Belfry and you guessed it, The Belfry. So, that takes us back to 1981 since the Cup was played on a classic course, Walton Heath - 30 years! We all know why and it's a great shame that pure golf is thrown out of the window for money. And the pattern continues in 2014 with the dreadful Centenary Course at Gleneagles, which happens to be the 3rd best course on the property!

So, the golf does remains pure and we expect to see some great matchplay golf, but sadly the golf courses chosen in the last 3 decades have lost the pure and focused on the dollars and cents, which is a real shame. What I would give to see the Ryder Cup played at a classic links golf course like St Andrews or Muirfield. Dream on!

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Ryder Cup is here - 12 Questions that need answers!

It's Ryder Cup week and the talking heads on the Golf Channel have already started the usual conversations.

1. Why is Tiger's record so bad?
2. Why do the Europeans "bond" and the Americans don't?
3. What will the wives be wearing?...really, does anyone care?
4. Who will be the US mystery speaker? - who never fails to give a great team room speech, but it has zero effect on the team.
5. Just how many table tennis tables are there in the US team room, as this seems to be the latest form of relaxation - bets on Phil v. Kuch anyone?

We'll also throw in a few more interesting ones of our own...

6. Why does each team need 4 vice captains?
7. Who are all those hangers on inside the ropes?
8. Just how many "team uniforms" do the apparel manufacturers actually provide to people who aren't on the team?
9. How much money does this event make every 2 years for either The PGA of America or the European Tour?
10. How is that with a choice of all the great courses in the US and Europe, the event is always at a second rate venue? We know the answer, but still....Medinah, Celtic Manor, Valhalla, K Club (stop,'s hurting my head thinking about it!)
11. Could it really be the last really good venue in the US was Oak Hill in 1995 and in Europe try 1973 and Muirfield.
12. Why does the U.S. captain keep bringing Michael Jordan into the fold - especially in Chicago, where, contrary to popular opinion he is not the city's favorite son!