Why The Ryder Cup Appeals to Sports Fans
Watching 72 holes of golf, spread across four days, roughly anywhere between 6-8 hours a day is certainly not for everyone. As fans of the sport, we understand that too. There’s no denying that a standard stroke-play event is a huge commitment if you wish to follow the action closely.
As a consequence, non-golf fans may watch an hour or two of coverage every tournament. Similarly to cricket, golf has many formats. The primary two played by professionals are stroke-play and match-play - and they are vastly different to one another!
However, it’s important to establish that there are particular events that grasp the public’s attention. The major championships will always be the pinnacle of individual golf - there’s a reason why a career is judged on major victories!
You also have the flagship events like the BMW PGA Championship or the Players Championship on the PGA Tour; the World Golf Championships and the end of season playoffs/Race to Dubai.
It’s unfathomable how much golf is played in a typical season but regardless of everything that has been noted, there are two tournaments that take precedence of them all: the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup.
It’s understandable for golf fans to get excited about the two team-based events: they are arguably the epitome of golf, but what is fascinating is how much interest is generated away from your typical golf fan viewership.
Why is this?
Team Based Event
Us vs them. Ultimately, and there aren’t too many sports that can do this, both the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup can unite an entire continent. How unbelievable is that? The entirety of Europe pitted against the vast and heavily populated America.
When we watch golf, we usually root for our favourite golfer and that’s obviously subjective to the person who is issuing their support.
When you’re watching the Ryder Cup or Solheim Cup, you’ll be cheering for every man or woman in blue. While we can always appreciate the American shots, we’re secretly hoping for them to find the bunker, right?!
It also induces healthy competition. You’ll see the American fans wind up the European players and in two years’ time, those roles will be reversed.
The us vs them mentality adds another element of spice and as a consequence, grasps the continent into believing - and praying - that the Americans lose on home soil again.
When we play golf recreationally, we’ll typically play stroke play or stableford. The wonderful thing about the latter is a poor hole does not technically mean the pursuit for victory is over; match play is undoubtedly similar.
A European could card a triple-bogey on the first and while he would have been in trouble during a stroke play event, he simply forfeits a single hole with 17 more to play.
The format isn’t overly punishing which results in the matches being more competitive for a longer time; the intensity seldom eases and if we’re being completely honest, it rapidly rises as the match unwinds down the final stretch.
While momentum certainly exists in all formats of golf, it is prevalent during match play scenarios. The excitement that the format brings is unrivalled and it should come as little surprise to see other sports fans encapsulated by the wonders that is not only match play, but Ryder Cup match play.
The opening two days set the tone, but the Sunday steals the show. If you think foursomes and fourballs match play is great, I implore you to stick around for the Sunday singles - when the competition truly begins.
It may come across silly to hear that the competition doesn’t truly start until the Sunday - after more than half the points have been awarded – but if we reflect on previous instalments, they support this argument.
The miracle at Medinah provides the best example of this; having arrived for the Sunday singles, Europe were staring down the barrel of defeat after trailing the Americans 10-6.
After acquiring 8 ½ points from a possible 12, they edged out their longstanding rivals to complete the comeback of all comebacks - the day’s play was arguably miraculous!
However, this isn’t the only instance of the magic of match play. The 2019 Solheim Cup was a tightly contested affair and after two day’s play, the teams were tied at 8-8.
With three matches yet to conclude in the singles, America held a two-point advantage. Europe needed the final three points for victory and that’s exactly what they produced.
A final score of 14 ½ to 13 ½ to the team in blue resulted in Europe winning this competition for the first time since 2013.
As a consequence, Suzann Pettersen - who secured the winning point - etched her name into golfing history eternally.
While many things determine what sort of atmosphere the players can expect, the reception that the participants receive on the first tee is usually the best indicator.
With grandstands erected and filled to the brim, you can expect the home team to receive a warm welcome. The visiting group? Not so much.
The previous Ryder Cup, at Le Golf National, managed to successfully construct grandstands around the first tee that could hold 6,900 bystanders!
I’m sure we all remember what type of atmosphere was conjured by the fortunate attendees.
Moreover, if you’re planning to watch the Ryder Cup, please prepare for the endless shouts of: ‘get in the hole’ or, and I’m sure no-one knows where this one has derived from, ‘mash potatoes’ as a tee shot finds the centre of the fairway.
For the vast majority of Europeans, we have no idea why Americans are so determined to shout these comments the moment the club has made impact.
One thing it does do, however, is build an atmosphere. Moreover, the endless shouts of nonsense will begin to rile you up and before you have any chance to realise what is happening, you’re consumed by the Ryder Cup and the need to see Europe conquer!
The first Ryder Cup took place in 1927, three years before the inaugural football World Cup - that’s how long this competition has been in existence for.
While the advent of the Solheim Cup took place in 1990, it still has 30 years of steep history and rich connotations to the female game.
The Americans hold a steady record across the history of the Ryder cup, winning on 26 occasions and only losing 14 times.
However, since 1985 - when Europe won its first cup in a whopping 28 years - the United States have only managed to muster six victories in the last 16 contested.
The tide appears to be turning and generally, Europe have been able to set aside individual rivalries for the benefit of the collective.
It appears to be working too; the Europeans have formed an excellent bond with their fellow players while also understanding the importance of teamwork to win this competition.
While golf is incredible, it does not grasp everyone. Fortunately, the Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup continue to bring new fans to the sport and thus, bolster the growth and participation levels.
After exploring the many positives that make these cups so entertaining, is there any surprise that the Ryder Cup appeals to all sports fans?
The Ryder Cup is unlike any other tournament in golf and the atmosphere is something that every golf fan should experience. The experts at Golfbreaks.com can help with all aspects of your Ryder Cup experience, from accommodation and ticket packages to hospitality and travel and playing some of the fantastic nearby courses.
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