Ryder Cup Revealed author Ross Biddiscombe explains why the bi-annual matches mean more to Brits and Europeans than to the Americans
I’ve just spent three days at the Lexus Yorkshire Challenge, a three-day, three-course competition over the wonderful links of Ganton, Lindrick and Moortown.
Many golf fans forget that these courses were early hosts of the Ryder Cup (1949, 1957 and 1929) and this competition for normal club players attracts 400 pairs from as far as South Wales and Scotland.
It is part of the Ryder Cup’s legacy and an indication that we Brits (and our European cousins) will be more in love with events from Gleneagles than their American counterparts.
My book explains this difference in passion for the Ryder Cup because it’s so important to the results, both back in 1927 when the matches began and also later this month in the 40th contest.
Of all the players and captains who have taken part, Paul Azinger probably summed up the situation best when he said: “I’ve always said that the Americans’ love of the Ryder Cup is in our head, but for the Europeans, it’s in their blood. The Ryder Cup means everything to them.”
This passion for the event is why the Yorkshire Challenge has a full compliment of players, it’s why my own club (and many others) finds a way to stage its own mini version of the Ryder Cup (European members vs Americans) and why many other clubs find a way to connect with the contest. That’s not the case in America. T
All these connections mean that the crowds at the British matches have always been larger, more animated and even more knowledgeable of the event than those in America.
The long period of US domination – from mid 1930s through to the early 1980s – brought about a passionless atmosphere at the American matches. This was an end-of-season exhibition that their boys won with ease – why get excited?
But in Britain, this was one of few chances to beat the damned Yankees and players like Brian Huggett epitomised the pain of continual defeat. “The American players tried to make you feel inferior and we were,” he told me. “They loved to give us a whacking.”
So, Gleneagles will a noisy, raucous firepit of passion and (unlike the Battle of Brookline in 1999 when the crowd’s behaviour became a problem) it will add immensely to the event.
And Azinger’s comments ring true both for yesterday’s matches and tomorrow’s. As the Americans lose more Ryder Cup matches, their fans will prefer the Presidents Cup and so will the TV companies in the States who love nothing more than an American victory in any sport.
Remember, international sport for Americans is relatively rare – American football, baseball, ice hockey and basketball are their passions and those fans focus on the national competitions rather than any country-vs-country matches.
After all, the baseball champions of America win the World Series even though Toronto is the only no-US team.
If Europe wins again in two weeks, one of the reasons will be the long-term extra feeling for the contest that the fans AND the players feel and have felt for decades. Let battle commence!
Ross Biddiscombe’s Ryder Cup Revealed: Tales of the Unexpected is on offer at half price to readers of Golf Monthly during the month of September. Visit www.rydercuprevealed.com and click on the Golf Monthly Buy button.