Ryder Of The Storm

October 22, 2014 -

The story and accompanying outcry about the U.S. Ryder Cup team seems to be one that just will not go away.  If you missed out on what started the entire hullabaloo you can read about it at https://www.birdgolf.com/eagles-landed-glen/  .

There are legions of proposed solutions on how to solve the U.S teams inadequacies in what used to be their biennial walk in the park until the Europeans began to dominate Samuel Ryder’s get together.  A great many of the “solutions” put forth have credible notions of wisdom but none are the definitive answer.  That is actually much simpler but we’ll get to that a little later on.

The latest fix is the creation of a task force by the PGA of America (who own the Ryder Cup) to solve all the USA’s woes.  The task force is going to examine everything from how players are selected to how the Captains are selected and probably what food should be served on the first day of practice.

The 11 member task force (yes, 11 of them) is comprised of five active Tour players, three former Captains (who all lost when at the helm of their squad) and three PGA of America officials.

The co-chairs are PGA of America’s chief executive officer Pete Bevacqua and incoming president Derek Sprague.  The third PGA of America member is vice president to be Paul Levy.  They will be joined by the three former losing Captains, Ray Floyd (1989), Tom Lehman (2006) and David Love 111 (2010).

The five players are Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Rickie Fowler and Jim Furyk.

It seems that the only person not invited to be in the task force was the kitchen sink.  He was busy with a clogged drain.

The hue and cry for a return of Paul Azinger to the Captaincy, who was America’s last winning skipper at Valhalla in 2008, has been loud and well supported.   Azinger did some things in his tenure that had never been tried before.  He was inspired by watching a TV show documenting U.S. Navy SEALS and how they are separated into small groups of who do everything together thereby creating tight bonds and effective teams.

Azinger replicated that process by creating “pods” with his players well before the start of the matches and a closeness amongst the players that is rarely found in American teams.  Azinger also did personality profiles with his players using those results to help with his pairings and order of play (fast styles played first and slow styles in the last groups).

And then there are the “copycat” brigades who champion the notion that the U.S. should take a page or 20 out of Europe’s blueprint.  The European team has a fairly standardized format in place in which they have Captains serve as vice-captains before they take the helm.

They also make decisions using a committee of players rather than leaving all the heavy lifting to the Captain and start preparing for the next event almost as soon as the current one is over.  These committees are made up of current Tour players and former Captains.  The decision makers at the PGA of America are club professionals and teachers; not Tour players.

While all of these hypotheses (perhaps with the exception of the task force) have some merit, the final solution is much clearer.  Play better.

The Ryder Cup is ultimately decided by who plays better for those three days in fall.  The team that plays the best golf wins the Cup.

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