The Ryder Cup is golf’s funnest event. It inspires all kinds of innovation.
My brother is a member at Belmar Golf Club, which during the Ryder Cup stages a team competition among members, patterned after what the Yanks and Euros do. Me myself did the unthinkable Sunday — for awhile, I flipped the TV off Saints-Packers and watched some of the golf from Medinah. I will watch the NFL with my hair on fire, yet I watched some Ryder Cup instead of an NFL thriller.
A reader wrote and asked if I was going to address the U.S. defeat, offering some analysis or suggestions. I told him the only suggestion I had for the American cause is to play better golf or get better golfers. Looks to me like Europe has more good players than does the U.S.
I never have really figured out the concept of the Ryder Cup. When it was U.S. vs. England, OK, I got it. Nation vs. nation. But then we started producing more elite golfers in one state than the Brits did in the entire United Kingdom, so the Ryder Cup became nation vs. continent. Maybe it would seem more solid if Canadians and Mexicans were eligible for our team.
I never get too worked about the Ryder Cup. My radio colleague, Jim Traber, was going nuts Monday over the U.S. failure. But I just can’t find the passion for it. I don’t get too nationalistic when it comes to sports. I don’t get misty-eyed when “The Star-Spangled Banner” is played at the Olympics. I don’t automatically cheer for the U.S. in international competitions. I get patriotic over things like elections and the military and historical sites. Webb Simpson vs. Ian Poulter? Not so much.
But I know that the Ryder Cup does capture the fancy of American sport fans. And I got a great email Monday explaining the allure.
John Reddell Jr. of Norman is the son of the late John Reddell, a standout end on Bud Wilkinson’s 1950 national championship football team at OU and a member of the 1951 College World Series championship team. John Reddell Sr. went on to become a legendary Texas high school coach; his son, Brad, was an OU punter for Barry Switzer.
Here is John Reddell Jr.’s email:
“I had the privilege to attend the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah this weekend and thought that you might enjoy some of my impressions.
“A cross between the OU-Texas football game in Dallas and a golf tournament. Amazing international nature of the event. European Union colors (blue/yellow), outfits, songs for each Euro golfer about him, anthem (OH-LAE..OH-LAE..OH-LAE..OHLAE…etc.).
“Boisterous USA crowd, very noisy and partisan, golf etiquette out the window except during putts, cheers when opponent misses. Masters people must be nauseous.
“Cool outfits for both sides..sweaters, shirts…like a uniform.
“Medinah is huge. Three 18-hole courses in all. We walked for over an hour just to get from the front to the back on the one course they were using. The rest they used for parking lots, if you can believe that.
“The golfers to a man had tears in their eyes, fist pumping, excited about playing in this. Wives and parents and other family walking along with the golfers. Golfers at times over sitting with their wives during the tournament.
“Skywriting all afternoon on Saturday and Sunday. Five planes all in sync with pro Europe messages. One particular aimed at Tiger Woods naming his various lady friends with hearts saying Love to you…from your friends.
” How physically big Tiger was and how great a player Bubba Watson and Luke Donald are. The agony both Furyk and Stricker were going through by not being able to make putts. Captain Davis Love was intense but Sergio Garcia was Biblically intense. Sergio ran up a very steep incline to the 17th tee box like Walter Payton.
“Saw much Masters logo’d gear. Must be a sign of standing and panache among the patrons.
” Walking right by and alongside Freddie Couples, MJ, Scottie Pippen, Michael Phelps. MJ was really into this. Chicago fans yelling at MJ, ‘We need you man.’
“Ryder Cup golf shop massive, looks like an airplane hangar. I understand they did $4 million over the weekend in sales.
“European outfits of patrons very colorful…Brits, Scots (in kilts with unusual flags-like battle or clan flags maybe), Germans, Spanish. All very friendly and everyone enjoyed the camaraderie.
“Could not believe that patrons would sit by a hole and wait 3-4 hours at least before any golfer would come by. At the first hole with a tee time of 7 a.m., people were in the stands at 3-4 a.m., I heard.
“Has got to be one of the top five events in the sporting world. I will never forget it.”
I corresponded some with Reddell in subsequent emails, and he later said, “The Ryder Cup is definitely the biggest event I have ever attended. I’ve gone to many big OU games, Dallas Cowboys playoff games, Ranger games, OU-Texas, a few Thunder games. Believe me this is on a higher level, as it is most all the best players in the world (except a few from South Africa and Australia), national Olympic type pride, the prestige of Medinah, every golf luminary there is attends, ex-Presidents there…. you get the picture. It’s like the Euros invented golf (like we did baseball) and are standing together against their upstart American cousins. One German told me at a big Euro per Cup rally, one of the speakers said to the players, ‘If you lose the Cup don’t come back.’”