Another Ryder Cup in the books (“Romp in Rome,” October 2 GGP). Excitement, acrimony, accusations and more. And money, lots and lots of money, the root of all evil. Yes, more, until it becomes a little distasteful. Is Sam Ryder spinning in his grave? I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised. What was created as a friendly match between professional golfers from opposite sides of the pond has become a not-so-friendly affair.
The criteria for players have changed significantly over the years. In the beginning, players were required to be born in and reside in the country they represented. This caused some problems for Great Britain as some top pros were working and residing in clubs on the continent. A long list of changes intended to make things better or more equitable – first Ireland and then continental Europe were added – has brought us to today. The change from a friendly cross-ocean match has deteriorated into a take-no-prisoners money bonanza. It’s funny that the very earliest matches involved fundraising to cover expenses.
I’m sure that both sides always have wanted to win and there was certainly occasional controversy, but they seem to have been able to play with a modicum of politeness and decorum similar to what I and my men's club cronies manage to maintain when playing for the big bucks (OK, $1). No more.
Things really began to go downhill in 1989 at The Belfry. Paul Azinger kicked off the acrimony by refusing to allow Seve Ballesteros to switch out a “damaged” ball. “Is this the way you want to play?” Ballesteros said. Apparently so, as it has been downhill since then, with the next Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island – the “War by the Shore” – putting a cap on it. A camo cap, in fact. More accusations, more acrimony. What an unfortunate moniker, and the American camo hats put an exclamation point on it.
The lack of decorum, tradition and just general politeness and friendship are often lamented as being lost in today's game. The Ryder Cup is doing nothing to reinforce that tradition and is unlikely to change in the future. Maybe it’s just me, but I wish it would go back to a friendlier approach to the competition.
There is enough acrimony and plenty of wars in the world today. Golf doesn't need to add to it.
St. Paul, Minnesota
Great summary by John Hopkins on the Luke Donald input (“Donald rises to the task,” October 2 GGP).
One could maybe delve deeper into the superior quality of European captains from Tony Jacklin onwards as to one of the main factors behind Europe’s continued dominance.
This is a significant factor to look at, while not wanting to diminish efforts or sincerity of USA captains.
Also the question of payment for players was brought up again, wrapped up in Patrick Cantlay’s not-wearing-a-hat farrago. Cantlay denied it, but what exactly is the feeling among the players?
The Ryder Cup must generate zillions, so there could be a legitimate argument for players to share in the golden pot they help create. I understand they are “paid” a lump sum, which then goes to a charity of their choice.
So, what exactly is the position?
It makes me angry to hear that someone such as Patrick Cantlay thinks that he should be paid for playing in the Ryder Cup (“Pride or price? Ryder Cup is bigger than money,” October 9 GGP).
How much money would make him happy to add to the millions he already has when so many people in the world are starving? Absolute greed and selfishness.
When Cantlay was younger, he went to Jack Nicklaus seeking advice to improve in golf and further his career. I think if he were to go back to Nicklaus now, Cantlay would be told about patriotism and what it means to play for your country with fellow Americans.
Keegan Bradley, who did not land a captain’s pick, probably would have paid to have the privilege of playing in the Ryder Cup. Such a different attitude from Cantlay’s.
Being a transplanted Scot living in Canada, I know exactly what it means to the Europeans to be selected and play in the Ryder Cup. It’s called pride.
No money would make a European any happier than playing for Europe and beating the Americans. That is satisfaction.
Smithville, Ontario, Canada
There can be no greater honor than to represent your country (“Pride or price? Ryder Cup is bigger than money,” October 9 GGP).
The USA has given these players the opportunity and freedom to make enormous sums of money. The least that they can do is give back. They are playing a game that they love. They are not curing cancer. Any player who insists on being paid should be left off the team.
I enjoy watching the Ryder Cup more than any other event in all of sport, with NCAA basketball “March Madness” coming in a close second. Why is it that we, as Americans, have lost the fervor to play for our school, country or team? In my humble opinion, it’s money, and money will be the ruin of golf (“Pride or price? Ryder Cup is bigger than money,” October 9 GGP).
I still strongly believe that, to a man, those players and coaches on both sides fought passionately for their respective flags. My concern is that if Ryder Cup teams are paid appearance fees and the dollar amount gets to a point that it becomes more important than the passion to win for self, pride and country, the Ryder Cup will lose its luster.
While I wholeheartedly agree with Ron Green “that doesn’t mean it has to be,” I fear it’s inevitable.
Excellent article by John Hopkins (“Donald rises to the task,” October 2 GGP).
In the glow of the aftermath of the Ryder Cup, all credits are where they belong. I find it interesting as a 78-year-old American golfer for 66 years that this event has become so cherished in my heart.
As a side note, I love Formula 1 racing and have followed Grand Prix racing for most of my life due to the technology used by the teams. I also like NASCAR racing. That being said, the match appeared to be F1 cars racing NASCAR vehicles. The Euros just outraced the good ol’ boys.
Our “golf experts” must try to figure out again how to win on European soil.
Southport, North Carolina
My wife, Jane, and I have taken 12 trips with Kalos Golf and have enjoyed them all (“Idyllic Iberia,” October 9 GGP).
I have a quick story about Anton, the mixologist on the Kalos cruises. We met Anton in 2015 on the Kalos Normandy cruise. We are partial to Dalwhinnie, a single-malt Scotch whisky which the Sea Cloud Spirit had in inventory. Fast forward to 2022 when we were again aboard the Sea Cloud Spirit and Anton was there. I walked into the bar on the first night and exchanged greetings with Anton. He looked at me and asked, “Dalwhinnie?” Seven years, and he remembered my drink. Quite amazing.
If you have any interest in further trips on Kalos, the Normandy cruise and the British Isles cruise are outstanding. All of our 12 were memorable.
I think it’s an accomplishment for Lexi Thompson that she came within three shots of making the cut at a PGA Tour event.
But had she made the cut, it would not have been, as Mark Rolfing of Golf Channel said, “the golf story of the year,” beating out Canadian Nick Taylor winning his country’s open. Keep in mind that almost all of the top 50 players on the PGA Tour did not compete in the Shriners Children’s Open. The field was somewhere between a PGA Tour event and a Korn Ferry Tour event.
Maybe LIV is in her future.
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