So the Solheim Cup is now behind us and though Europe thoroughly dominated with incredible play from their young stars, another winner was clearly Colorado Golf Club. What a setting with views carrying on forever and what a course with wide targets and playing nice and bouncy. Though the timing of the event can be debated, at the end of a long and tiring “major” season, the choice of venue was inspirational.
A case could be made that the real loser of the Solheim was the entire notion of these professional “play for your country” cups, Ryder included. To say that the players play them as if a major championship is at stake does not do justice to how they play major championships. The intensity is off the charts, to me in a negative way. The pace of play at the Solheim turned While We’re Young into Before We Die. The sportsmanship displayed during some of the rulings was hideous. Whispers of racism threaded their way through social media simply because Korea is not a part of the Solheim, a ridiculous assertion. And the USA’s defeat was blamed in some circles on…wait for it…the USA (meaning, the country!). As if the little white ball knew that the American hitting it was so wholely absorbed in herself, being from the USA and all, that such player couldn’t possibly absorb the concept of “team” and therefore could not hit fairways or greens or make a putt. I actually think the opposite is true and that the USA teams traditionally try too hard in these events.
Daylight turned out to be an issue in Colorado with the slow Solheim pace-of-play along with a rain delay. But if daylight comes into play in Colorado, in mid-August, what should we expect much farther North in Scotland, in late September, during next year’s Ryder Cup? Those guys better start picking up the pace right now and crowd control might be a problem if they don’t tone down the intensity and subsequent lack of sportsmanship.
Maybe it’s time to take a step back here before things get really out of hand at Gleneagles in 2014. What does the winner of the Ryder Cup get? The trophy, and bragging rights. The real competition is making the team itself. As a USA vs. Europe event, this is not competition and it’s not the Olympics. This is EXHIBITION. A grand exhibition for sure but not like events where the last two teams standing have survived and endured months and months of challenges. Imagine if two countries were just grandfathered into the World Cup final or the same two teams automatically made the Super Bowl every year. I doubt a win would carry much true meaning.
The players don’t even get paid in the Ryder Cup and, though I am in a minority with this opinion, I think it’s a travesty. The Ryder Cup has so lined the pockets of the organizers yet they have succeeded in turning the slightest suggestion that the teams should get a share of the money into an affront on all things patriotic.
I don’t think it’s realistic to go back to the charming Ryder Cups of yore, with polite crowds, little press coverage, and drinks together afterwards but here’s hoping that the players next year do their part to make sure that the event is kept in perspective. Phil Mickelson had it right at Medinah, cheering and smiling (to much criticism) while Justin Rose holed a mile of birdie putts to win their singles match. What did Rose really win? Respect, admiration, and a crucial point on Europe’s way to victory. All worthy rewards in the long tradition of what the Ryder Cup has been about. But Rose’s US Open victory means a lot more to his career. And Phil Mickelson’s epic Open Championship victory at Muirfield makes those that criticized his exceptional sportsmanship at Medinah look foolish.
The amateur equivalents, Walker and Curtis, seem to still have the spirit of friendly competition about them and the upcoming Walker Cup in the Hamptons at stately old National Golf Links promises to be as much cocktail party as competition. There is no way you will see an overabundance of patriotism among the galleries and I would bet anything the sportsmanship stays nothing but gentlemanly. The Presidents Cup, by nature a friendlier event due to one team being simply “International” also promises to be dialed down substantially from the Solheim and recent Ryder Cups.
And I think that will be a good thing, and will be no less fun to watch.