(Photo: Blue skies were rare at Celtic Manor / lhourahane, Flickr)
The Ryder Cup is the Super Bowl of golf. Hence, everything is scrutinized and many aspects of the biennial event are ridiculed, which I find tiresome. But in the end, it’s not about the uniforms or the wives and girlfriends or which captain is the best quote or rain gear or what Johnny Miller said about Phil. Those are all just carnival sideshows.
Yesterday it was as clear as that bright blue sky over Celtic Manor what the Ryder Cup is about. It’s about Europe’s 12 best going against America’s 12 best. It’s about playing for country or continent in a team competition that ends in euphoria or tears.
It’s about crushing pressure under which a 21-year-old rookie can birdie four straight holes for a half point, an Irishman can sink the biggest putt of his life in front of adoring fans, and a hero from the 2008 Ryder Cup can stab a chip shot that broke his spirit and rendered him speechless. It’s about the competition, pure and simple. There’s nothing like the Ryder Cup, especially at its best, like yesterday.
But my problem is this: Yesterday was Monday. Yesterday was a work day.
It was the first Monday finish in the 83-year history of the Ryder Cup. More than two inches of rain fell on Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales, from Thursday afternoon to Sunday morning. Play was delayed and the format was changed to get in all the matches. No one can control the weather, but the powers that be do control the schedule.
As we now know, October is not a good month to stage any outdoor event in Wales. (This was the first Ryder Cup contested in October since Royal Birkdale in 1965.) It was a prolonged rain delay waiting to happen.
The BBC’s Iain Carter got to the crux of the problem:
On this side of the pond the European Tour runs the Ryder Cup and the professional schedule. In America it is different. The PGA Tour runs the schedule and a completely separate body, the PGA of America, administers the Ryder Cup.Hey, powerful golf people: Don’t mess up the Ryder Cup for all of us.
The match is not the primary concern of the PGA Tour, which has now taken over September with its Fed Ex Cup play-off series. The PGA of America has been forced to let go the traditional weeks where Ryder Cups have been staged.
If you want to build goodwill for the game and cater to fans—fans who work on Mondays—preserve the Ryder Cup in as close to its original form as possible. Do everything you can to make sure that it ends on Sunday for the next 83 years. Samuel Ryder would appreciate that. You are using his name, after all, and talking up the wonderful traditions of the game and these matches. That, or find a corporate sponsor and call it the XYZ Cup.
Find a way to play the Ryder Cup in late September and/or where it’s highly unlikely to rain buckets. You’re smart people. You can figure it out and still make millions.
Imagine if many more golf fans—and perhaps a few casual fans who might have tuned in on Sunday—could have seen the greatest Ryder Cup in years.
−The Armchair Golfer