Ryder Cup ‘Task Force’


Ryder Cup ‘Task Force’ – A Bit Overdone?


It was announced today that a task force would be assembled to analyze and eliminate whatever reasons can be found for the poor showing of the U.S. in recent
Ryder Cup competitions, the premier golf competition between the two continents.

That’s fine – I’d want to get together and discuss something like that if I were a PGA official, captain, former captain, or player. The U.S. has prevailed in two of the last ten meetings. Before that, the west was dominant, and they don’t like the change for the worse. That’s also understandable – no harm, no foul.

ryder 2 However, the way I read the announcement, it sounded as if we were hitting the beaches of Europe in an all-out offensive, as if the world of professional golf was to be turned into a new branch of the Navy Seals or some sort of elite swat team. It all looked like such a “to the halls of Montezuma” moment that for an instant, I was embarrassed. Why couldn’t they just say that a group of relevant individuals within the American game was sitting down to discuss what went wrong?
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It is often disregarded in this country, which experienced its pioneer days centuries after Europe’s, that the Cowboys-and-Indians fantasy life in which the previous generation grew up here in the states appears downright silly elsewhere, and to the present generation, on some levels. In some undefinable sense, the adult American male of forty to sixty-five never completely gave up the militancy required for competition, and changes must be accompanied by major announcements and fireworks. But, there’s just something that is too odd in saber rattling with a three-iron.

Nevertheless, we’ve brought our best to the effort. The Joint Chiefs of Staff for this ‘task force’ include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Davis Love, Tom Lehman, Raymond Floyd, and six other heavyweights from either the course or administrative end of the PGA. Apparently, we went wrong with sixty-five-year-old Tom Watson, despite the fact that he was the captain of the winning team of 1993. But, what have you done for me lately?
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GTY 456273510 S GLF SPO GBR SCTopics to be discussed include everything from practice schedules to the qualifications of captain’s picks to why there are so many Fed Ex events just before the tournament. Lewis’ Walrus and the Carpenter can provide many of the other questions. We needn’t list them here. A PGA executive has produced the most shockingly enlightened disclaimer so far, reminding us that the ‘task force’ isn’t so naïve as to believe it will fix everything in two years – so, there’s a glimmer of sanity in it after all.

Needless to say, the establishment of this ‘task force’ has given the Europeans a lot to laugh about, particularly Ryder stars Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter. How I hate it when the opponent is right. Despite Westwood’s reputation as the “greatest player who can’t win a tournament” and Poulter’s naturally emitted aura of embarrassment that crosses all cultural lines from time to time, they are correct in suggesting that the U.S. might try playing better golf. Perhaps if Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, the rookies, had played all the matches, things might have been different, but alas, America just played some mediocre rounds of golf, and that’s that.

With all the G.I. Joe stuff going on with one side, and all the high school strutting on the other, my solution is for the fan to put the whole event out of his or her mind for another two years, look the other way, and follow the LPGA, where things are equally competitive, but a little more grown-up.

Of interest is that the one completely sane individual in all of this, Paul Azinger, will not be involved in the war games directed at taking the cup back from those sneering and superior Europeans. Tom Watson has been demoted in rank, and venerable veterans like Nicklaus wouldn’t touch it.

I wonder if they’ll wear berets and salute one another at the next Ryder. Boy, those Europeans had better watch out.

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