Golf Writer, Keith Cook, examines the major challenges ahead to keep the Ryder Cup relevant in the game of golf.
The golf world has been abuzz this week with the announcement of Darren Clarke as the 2016 European Ryder Cup Captain and the expected announcement (next week) of Davis Love III as the 2016 American Ryder Cup Captain. However, even with the anticipation and energy these announcements bring to the Ryder Cup, there is a stark reality floating in the background, which may affect the future of the competition itself.
Historically, this isn’t the first time the future of the Ryder Cup has come into question. Prior to 1979, and the inclusion of European players, the event was falling out of style due to USA dominance. This one-sided result had some within the USGA and R&A, questioning if the event needed to be held at all. Sound familiar?
The modern Ryder Cup is now beginning to face the same questions of relevance. It’s no secret America has lost 7 of the last 10 Ryder Cups and “lack of competiveness” is once again being whispered in the boardrooms. Still, even though competiveness is a large problem, another and much more significant challenge looms on the horizon . . . the Summer Olympics.
GOLF IN THE OLYMPICS
The game of golf being included once again as an official Olympic sport has been rightly heralded throughout the world. Yet, this great news for golf could unintentionally affect the future of the Ryder Cup. The Ryder Cup is held in even numbered years and every fourth year, the Olympics and the Ryder Cup will compete against each other for the attention of the golfing world, beginning in 2016.
Consider this: In an event already struggling for competitive relevance, there will be a Gold Medal on the line every 4-years in the same sport. Although the calendar dates will be separated by a few months in the Olympic years, the Olympic results will certainly either mute or negate any Ryder Cup outcome.
This will be especially true if the United States wins the Gold Medal in golf. For example, if the US were to win the Gold Medal in 2016, but lose the Ryder Cup, the Cup loss could be seen as meaningless because of the Olympic result. If the US wins the Gold and then wins the Ryder Cup, the result will be muted because of the expectation of the win.
The same can’t be said for Team Europe however, because of the blend of nations which make up their team . . . making the future of the Ryder Cup dicey – at best – in the Olympic years.
RYDER CUP EVERY FOUR YEARS?
With no easy way out, because of the President’s Cup being held in the odd-numbered years, Ryder Cup Officials (PGA/R&A/PGA and European Tours) are now confronted with tough decisions.
- Will the Ryder Cup have to intentionally space itself outside of the Summer Olympic years? Essentially, reset the Cup to 2018, 2022, 2026, etc. and hold the event every four years?
- Does the President’s Cup go away or perhaps switch in and out with the Ryder Cup in odd-numbered years? Meaning each of those events would only be held every four years.
- Is there enough space in golf for the Olympics and the Ryder Cup to co-exist with each other? Should everything stand solid and the future of the Ryder Cup simply remain linked with the Olympics every fourth year?
HARD QUESTIONS – SMART PEOPLE
These are hard questions for smart people to figure out. Nonetheless, there is little doubt the future of the Ryder Cup must once again be addressed to remain relevant in the world of golf.
BIO: Keith Cook has been a writer/blogger/contributing editor at localgolfer.com since 2013. He is a retired U.S. Military Veteran and Ashford University Graduate living in Michigan. Follow Keith and Local Golfer on Twitter @_KeithCook and @LocalGolfer.
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