To the beat of the clicking equipment of a corps of photographers, the best golfers from Europe and the United States paraded through the Spanish stands in Rome this week. Traditionally, they provided themselves with a partner on their arm, who would stand around the golfer throughout the tournament in elaborate attire.
It’s an eccentric, conservative image that suits the unchanging Ryder Cup, the golf tournament that starts today. While ‘Cats’ have disappeared from Formula 1 and conversations about homosexuality in football have become increasingly common, golf is clinging to the old image with the Ryder Cup – the ultimate showcase for the sport.
The fact that the tournament has remained more or less the same across the board since 1927 has its downsides that can be criticized, but it is also a strength of the tournament. More than 300,000 enthusiastic fans are expected at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Italy, and the television audience is also growing with each edition. The 44th edition of the Ryder Cup can be watched on television in no less than 201 countries, and the event is expected to attract approximately seven hundred million viewers, making it one of the largest tournaments in the world.
Team Europe vs Team USA
Why is the tournament so popular? What helps first of all: It’s very simple. Golfers on “Team Europe” compete against golfers on “Team USA” every two years.
This game has become very popular since the 1980s, when players from continental Europe were also allowed to register, in addition to the United Kingdom and Ireland. With the help mainly of the Spanish, Europe was able to resist the United States for the first time and the public became genuinely interested.
This accumulated tension and rivalry is exactly what has allowed the tournament to grow over the years. “It’s just about honour,” explains former golfer and commentator Robert Jan Derksen (49). “There is no prize money to be won and no points to be achieved in a particular classification.”
However, golfers see the Ryder Cup as the most important tournament and a giant icing on the cake of their career. Among other things, this caused many players to reject offers from the controversial company Live Golf, because it might exclude them from the Ryder Cup. Live Golf is a Saudi Arabia-funded circuit that was initially in direct opposition to the current PGA Tour, but last summer both sides laid down the hatchet.
“The Ryder Cup is also one of the few team tournaments,” Derksen says. “So the competition and pressure to perform makes it more attractive.”
It’s a golf scene that can’t be compared to other tournaments on site. The exuberant and enthusiastic crowd makes its voice heard with songs and cheers. Any form of noise is usually unacceptable in golf, but sometimes players will hype up the crowd when they start a match. In this way the sport is celebrated, but at the same time it is played at the highest level.
Everyone has an opinion
In the Ryder Cup, many events are played in teams and individually. Everything is put together in a way that makes it interesting and exciting for the viewer. Tactics, team selection, and even revamping the track in favor of a particular team, everything is open for discussion.
Where analyzes of ordinary golf matches are often limited to short conversation in the dusty leather chairs of a country club, in this tournament suddenly happens what also happens in the Netherlands when the Dutch football team plays football in a major tournament; Everyone has an opinion and talks about heroism with others.
“Only scoring points can create uncertainty,” Derksen says. “It could be a tie and then the winner of the previous edition – in this case the United States – will take home the Gold Cup.”
Thus, the tournament maintains its traditions. So the water shortage in southern Europe is not being discussed on the bright green grass of Rome, the participation of additional countries is not being considered, and golfers who have not brought a partner in the past are just muttering and speculating. It remains to be seen whether the organization will feel the urgency for change. Until then, the men parade in front with their partners behind them.
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