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The Ryder Cup: putting it into perspective

September 27th, 2012 · 1 Comment

There is absolutely no question that the Ryder Cup has the greatest hype to play ratio of any sporting event – including the Super Bowl.

It starts in the season before the Ryder Cup with the announcement of the captain (if not before), is present all during the season in which is held, gains momentum just before the PGA, and reaches dizzying heights in the days leading up to the event. In comparison, the Super Bowl’s hyperbole really only begins in earnest in the post season as the media is, rightly, focused more on the week to week play.

Given golf’s excessive coverage of the Ryder Cup, you would think that compiling a stellar record in it would be vital to any player who hopes to be voted into World Golf Hall of Fame. When the media talks about a player’s chances of getting into the HOF, they will invariably bring up their record in the Ryder Cup. Colin Montgomerie, for example, is thought to be a strong candidate for the HOF based in large part on his 20-9-7 record in the Ryder Cup, even though he never won a major.

Indeed, the Ryder Cup is one of the funnest events to watch, but that doesn’t change the fact that this glorified exhibition should carry absolutely zero weight in determining a player’s worthiness for the HOF. The reason? Players born in the US and Europe have a chance to pad their resumes in the cup, while 90% of the rest of the world’s population (and probably 30% of the world’s golfers) do not.

Sure, the rest of the world’s pro golfers are eligible to participate in the Presidents Cup, but on the prestige-o-meter, the Ryder Cup gives the P-Cup three shots a side. In addition, because of the weakness of the International teams (which will continue until the number of great players catches up to those in the US and Europe), those who play on the International teams will see their records (and chances for the HOF) hurt from playing in it. The proof: the US team’s record is 7-1-1, and they have outscored the Internationals 172 to 126 (57.7%).

The career building bias is huge for players who are born in the US, and are thus eligible for both cups. They get to play in a cup every year, which gives them twice as many chances to be a hero. In addition, the Americans also benefit from experience in team competition, as shown by this year’s team, which includes eight members of last year’s Presidents Cup squad.

In sum, because of the utter unfairness of the Ryder Cups to the players in the rest of the WORLD, those who vote for entry into the WORLD Golf Hall of Fame should not, for one second, consider any player’s record in the Ryder Cup and the President Cup.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 BD // Sep 27, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    That’s a bit like arguing that being on World Series-winning teams in the 1930s and ’40s shouldn’t count toward a baseball player’s HOF credentials because blacks weren’t allowed to play in MLB until 1947. Even if Americans get to play in both the Ryder Cup and the President’s Cup, for an individual American to excel in those events is still a noteworthy achievement in golf. I mean, not only do you have to qualify for the American team multiple times, you have to compile a significant winning record for this to really enhance your HoF credentials. Just showing up every year and losing isn’t going to get you much, if any, additional HoF consideration.

    I’m curious to know what American you think has gotten in or will get into the HoF because he had the “unfair” opportunity to play in both the Ryder Cup and the President’s Cup.

    As for the event itself, I don’t think it’s overhyped at all. Granted, it’s not a major, but it IS the biggest team event in golf as well as the biggest (or at least most storied) international event. You could argue that the Open Championship is a bigger international event in the eyes of American golfers and fans, but you’d have to concede that the Open wasn’t all that international until the 1950s, Hogan, and jet airliners.

    A significant theme running through golf history is the tug-of-war between Great Britain/Ireland and the U.S. for symbolic ownership of the game. Originlly, all the great players and courses were Scottish and British, but eventually America really came to dominate the sport. Anyway, the Ryder Cup encapsulates that historical struggle. They may not articulate it in those exact words, but I think every player who tees it up in this event feels a sense of that rivalry and their place in it.

    How you can say the Ryder Cup is more overhyped than the Super Bowl and the Olympics is beyond my meager powers of comprehension. I can assure you the average American has no idea the RC is starting tomorrow. In fact, the average American probably has only the sketchiest idea of what the RC is. Of course, it gets a lot of attention and publicity in the golf universe, but I don’t think it gets any more attention than it deserves.

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