Five ways to improve the Ryder Cup matches
Look to schedule the matches a bit sooner on the golf calendar
Pushing the matches into October is taking a huge risk – the weather can very well impact on what happens. Although the weather in the Twin Cities area was sensational for the duration of the event, there have been times when such late dates have proved to backfire. The 2010 matches in Wales were plagued by continuous rain and temperatures were far from ideal. The matches in Minnesota were quite fortunate to have anything close to that happen, so getting the matches played no later than the middle of September could prove ideal. This would also minimise the overlap with college and professional football in the States and the impact of Premier League games. A greater coordination with the various professional golf tours can make this a reality if the desire is there to do so.
Clearly, with golf in the Summer Olympics through to at least 2020 there will be some clear schedule issues that need to be resolved, with the greatest impact coming on the American side, since their host role would coincide with the Olympics.
Have all players play each of the matches.
For years, the Ryder Cup has had a format in which four players must sit out each of the four team sessions. This has enabled the side with the weaker line-up to “hide” such players from playing. Having them play all of the matches would then require the respective Captains to think long and hard how to position their line-up accordingly. The team with the superior depth should not be penalised because the other team can simply sit out its weaker players.
In years past this was needed because the teams from the former GB&I were not as deep as the Americans. Those days are now behind us as global golf has clearly raised the bar of play.
Have Captains openly select their match choices
Right now, the respective Captains provide their line-ups in a blind fashion at the same time. Having the Captains meet and then select the players would add even more appeal. Since the team that hosts has an advantage, it would work best for the home team to announce its first match followed by the visiting Captain making his choice. The entire line-ups would be selected with this approach. Having the Captains do so on camera would only add more interest to their strategic thinking.
Limit attendance at the event
The crowds at Hazeltine were impressive - 45,000 to 50,000 - but they also proved to be nightmarish for fans seeking to watch play in some sort of meaningful fashion. The wherewithal to watch players play was just about impossible during the first two days of team play. Even during the singles matches the amount of people was still too great to prevent many from seeing the action firsthand. As a result, many people who purchased tickets were reduced to watching action via a Jumbotron television at different locations at Hazeltine.
Cut-off alcohol sales
For the most part, the crowds at Hazeltine were respectful of the players and in using appropriate golf etiquette. That was not the case for some - most notably Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Danny Willett. Much of that can be attributed to robust alcohol sales. Clearly, sports events such as The Ryder Cup will have alcohol present because of the money provided. But when unruly people - albeit a few - interact with the players, it sullies the event. European Captain Darren Clarke said the behaviour was 99% fine, but it is no less important to keep the 1%, who do otherwise, to keep that total from growing. Cutting off alcohol sales by 1:00pm of each day of the matches could help in that regard.