10 things I learned at the 2012 Ryder Cup
The Ryder Cup. A tradition unlike any other.
Wait, that tag-line has been taken already. (Blast your stentorian tone and wizardly wordsmithery, Jim Nantz!)
How about: The Ryder Cup. A convergence of crazy formats and crazy fans.
That’s probably not what the PGA and European organizers are looking for in terms of image, but it’s not too far off.
After spending the day at Medinah yesterday, carefully studying the swing and demeanor of the greatest golfers on the planet, I learned a few things. And here, offered for your interest and edification, is what I gleaned from the experience.
1) If you’re attending the Ryder Cup on Friday or Saturday, be prepared for lots of waiting and hordes of spectators surrounding the four holes being played at any given time. You see, there are as many spectators as a major, but only a few groups playing at any given time. Sunday is a bit different, with play spread out across 12 holes, at least for a while until matches start to end. In other words, if you’re short on height or patience, you will not find a very good view of anything.
2) Even the best players in the world hit some pretty lousy shots now and then. You can blame the boisterous fans or the nerve-wracking environment. But me, I attribute it to simple statistics. When you watch regular PGA Tour events on TV, you will see three kinds of shots: a) shots by the leaders (who are playing well); b) shots by Tiger/Phil (whether they’re playing well or not); and c) great shots by other players. So the majority of those shots are good ones. At the Ryder Cup, where the numbers of players and swings are limited, and all get televised, you end up seeing a larger proportion of pedestrian shots.
3) The buffoonery of the meatheads who shout things like, “It’s in the hole!” and “You da man!” and, yesterday, “Pepper that nut, Tiger!” is amplified by nationalism. It is these morons, rather than the fans taking silent photos with their cell phones, who should be removed from the premises.
4) I want to be very clear about my allegiance here: I pull strongly and fervently for the USA in the Ryder Cup. This said, I find the European “Ole, ole, ole, ole!” to be more melodic and less jarring than “USA! USA!", the staccato tempo of which sort of slaps you repeatedly in the face. But to be perfectly honest, I would prefer not to hear either one.
5) Tiger is not a morning person. It would be ever so nice if Mr. Woods could maybe get himself motivated before falling 3 holes behind. (And I bet Steve Stricker would agree.)
6) When a low-teen handicapper like myself tries to pick up some tips by studying the swings of Ryder Cuppers, it is not the flowing artistry of Luke Donald that is retained, nor the geometrical precision of Justin Rose. Not the stoic bearing of Jason Dufner, nor the effortless power of Rory McIlroy. No, what seems to lodge itself into the swing of the hapless golf writer is Bubba Watson’s front-foot step-out move. And let me tell you, it doesn’t work so well for the golf writer.
7) Gleneagles is ready for the 2014 Ryder Cup. Gleneagles’ PGA Centenary Course reopened in April after a Jack Nicklaus-led nip/tuck in preparation for the 2014 Ryder Cup. The installation of a state-of-art drainage system promises to keep the focus on the ‘14 matches, even if the weather doesn’t cooperate. However, given that the Centenary Course is a distinctly American-style parkland design, it might not be the most popular choice among the Euros. The Yanks might well have a better chance there than other European venues.
8) Billy Casper, winner of 51 PGA Tour events and 3 majors, is a tremendously nice man. His new book, “The Big Three and Me” offers delightful, sincere insight into the ascendant PGA Tour.
9) European PGA officials are nicer than American PGA officials. Whereas the former say, “Put your cell phones away, please,” the latter seem to take great pleasure in calling out offenders taking silent pictures of players between shots and marking their grounds passes with warning ‘W’s.
10) If you are commuting to the Windy City from downstate Illinois and looking for an extraordinary meal, get off I-57 at Kankakee and visit Caribbean Delite (559 E Court St., Kankakee, 815-802-0333). There are only three tables and a counter, but don’t let the modest surroundings fool you. Jerk, curry, brown stew – all of it is delicious. And the red snapper is as outstanding as it is unexpected. Be ready for some heat, too!
Billy Casper promoted his new book “The Big Three and Me” at the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah.
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