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Golfers Should NOT Be Paid to Play in The Ryder Cup

By: | Mon 16 Oct 2023

For this week's View From The Fairway, Golfshake's Derek Clements reflects on whether golfers should be paid to play in the Ryder Cup and explains how the views of everyday golf fans are the same as his own.

THE subject of whether or not golfers should be paid for playing in the Ryder Cup reared its head at Marco Simone after suggestions that Patrick Cantlay refused to wear a Team USA cap in protest at not being financially rewarded.

Cantlay has denied it but respected American golf writer Michael Bamberger seemed to support the claims when he said that he heard Cantlay say the following on the first tee during a practice round at Marco Simone: “I’ll wear a hat when I’m paid to be here like he is,” Cantlay reportedly said to NBC’s Steve Sands, gesturing to PGA of America’s Julius Mason.

What I cannot understand is why Cantlay has not felt able to say this in public. He is not the first American Ryder Cup player to have this opinion. Why do you think that Mark O’Meara and David Duval have never been considered as captains for the American team? It may just be coincidence but both were outspoken opponents of playing in the Ryder Cup for nothing.

In fact, it was largely down to Duval and O’Meara’s protestations in 1999 that US players were given $200,000 per man to donate to a charity of their choice. Nobody should have an issue with that. I certainly don’t.

There will be those who believe that golfers are handsomely enough rewarded. And while that may be true (Cantlay has pocketed more than $60m in prize money alone), it is also the case that the Ryder Cup is a cash cow for a number of organisations. We will return to that later.

Ryder Cup

Although the 24 men chosen to represent Europe and the USA do not receive direct payment, they will pick up all sorts of bonuses from club and ball manufacturers and the myriad of other sponsors who look after them. And it can also be argued that if you are good enough to make the team then you certainly don’t need any more money in your bank account.

Let me say here and now that I would pay to represent Europe. And it is perfectly clear that most of the Europeans feel exactly the same way. Jon Rahm has said he doesn’t need to be paid to don the European colours, that it is one of the greatest honours of his life to go out there and fight for the cause.

And it would appear that most of you agree. These things are far from being scientific but we ran a poll on X (formerly Twitter) in which we simply asked if golfers should be paid to play in the Ryder Cup. A total of 115 of you responded in a poll that was only live for 24 hours - and 86% of you came back with a resounding “No”.

Consider this for a moment. The Rugby World Cup and Cricket World Cup are being played in France and India respectively and every man representing his country is being paid to do so and yet nobody bats any eyelid.

So what makes golf any different?

Luke Donald, who captained Europe to victory in Italy, says: "The Ryder Cup represents true sport. It's the purest form of competition we have, and I think because of that, the fans love it. It's purely, purely sport. That's what makes it so special.”

And at a time when our beloved sport has become so sullied by the pursuit of obscene amounts of money on the LIV Golf circuit, is it really too much to ask that for one week every two years we should ask 24 golfers to go out there an do it for nothing more than pride?

The counter-argument is that the Ryder Cup effectively bankrolls the PGA of America, the PGA and the DP World Tour. I am talking about TV revenue (there is a 15-year, $440m deal with NBC, ticket sales and merchandise sales. And that’s without attempting to put a value on the interest generated across the world. The final figures are not in yet but it has been estimated that the 2023 Ryder Cup will make at least $13m profit for the DP World Tour. This is all the more significant when you learn that the DP World Tour loses money in a non-Ryder Cup year.

It is also believed that the Italian economy will have benefited to the tune of around $250m.

There’s more…the Italian Golf Federation increased the prize money for the Italian Open by more than $2 million annually and made more than $20m in direct payments to Ryder Cup Europe.

Where do I stand? There is NO WAY that anybody should be paid to play in the Ryder Cup. However, I do believe that it stands to reason that the captain is compensated for what is, after all, a full-time job with huge pressures and media commitments.

If you start to give the players appearance money you risk changing the entire nature of this unique event. It is one week every two years, combined with the challenge of playing well enough to make the team. 

When you hear rookies talk about shaking with nerves on the first tee you know all you need to know about what it should feel like to play in the Ryder Cup. You saw what it meant to the likes of Robert MacIntyre, playing in his first match, and Shane Lowry, a man who has won The Open. 

You saw Scottie Scheffler reduced to tears after suffering a humiliating defeat. And you saw a veteran in Justin Rose almost bursting out of his skin after holing crucial putts. This is what the Ryder Cup should be all about.

I know that this is an emotive subject. Let us know what you think. 

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.

More Ryder Cup Coverage

What do you think? post your thoughts and feedback on the Golfshake Forum: https://forum.golfshake.com/

Tags: ryder cup PGA Tour european tour dp world tour

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