Ryder Cup golf
is matchplay all the way. Mano-a-mano for 3 days (why not four?...that's another story!).
Matchplay is golf in its purest form and the way that majors like the US PGA were decided for years before the demands of TV led to 72 holes of strokeplay golf and 5 hour rounds.
The question is "Does the Ryder Cup remain pure and if not when did it lose it?"
I have had the good fortune to attend many Ryder Cups over the years, including being the manager for players in the team and it is fair to say that the event is unlike anything else in the world of professional golf. And most of it in a good way. The teams play a mixture of three formats over the Friday to Sunday competition - foursomes (or 'alternate shot' in dreadful US parlance), fourballs and singles matches.
The tension and pressure on the players is immense and the atmosphere at the course is very special. For the most part the partisanship outside of the ropes is in good spirits and this year both captains seem to be going over the top trying to kill each other with kindness.
The true test will come on Friday morning when some poor soul is the first to hit the opening tee shot. Of course the hospitality tents and overpriced souvenirs are there in force, but hey, the PGA of America has to pay the bills.
For me the pure element that has been missing for many years has been the actual playing surface - the golf course. And once again this year we are treated to an average (ok, above average) Ryder Cup golf course
With a choice of many great golf courses the best the PGA of America can do is Medinah. Before that it was Valhalla and Oakland Hills. Still they are doing better in choosing golf courses than their European counterparts.
The sorry tale of venues for the last seven European Ryder Cups reads Celtic Manor
, The K Club
, The Belfry
(ok we like that one!) The Belfry, The Belfry and you guessed it, The Belfry. So, that takes us back to 1981 since the Cup was played on a classic course, Walton Heath
- 31 years!
We all know why and it's a great shame that pure golf is thrown out of the window for money. And the pattern continues in 2014 with the improved but still dreadful PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles
, which happens to be the third best course on the property.
So, the golf does remains pure and we expect to see some great matchplay, but sadly the courses chosen in the last 3 decades have lost the pure and focused on the pounds, euros and dollars, which is a real shame.
What I would give to see the Ryder Cup played at a classic links golf course like St Andrews
. Dream on!