I got to attend the Ryder Cup at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club Club near Rome, Italy with some old friends. This is the biennial menâ€™s golf matchup of the United Statesâ€™ best players against the whole of Europe.
It was ugly for us Americans. It was probably the most botched American/Italian disaster since Olive Garden introduced its version of Fettuccine al Pomodoro.
The last Ryder Cup was in America, at a golf course called Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. (I think it was named for Italian men at construction sites when a woman walks by). We won that one. But since 1979, when we started taking on the whole of Europe (not just Great Britian and Ireland), they have won thirteen times and we have won nine. America has not won in Europe in thirty years. Why?
We were beaten badly in Italy last weekend. It was brutal. I cannot imagine anything more cruel unless it would be making an Italian cab driver explain an accident he was involved in while handcuffed.
On paper, the United States team should win. Our players, who play on the most competitive stage in the world, the PGA Tour, are higher ranked. But like the PGA Tour itself, we have become complacent and too well rested on our laurels.
The European team just seems to get along better. They have more fun. While I would love to have a bourbon with almost every player on the European team, the only guy on the U.S. team who seems to have any fun and who I would have beers with is Justin Thomas.
Why is this? Well, most of these U.S. players have been competing against each other since Junior Golf. Even the college game is an individual sport, not exactly team play or match play anymore. Thus, there are likely competitive tensions in this very individualistic sport for the American kids dating back to when they were 14 years olds playing each other. Teamwork is just not in their DNA.
Also, Europe now has a team chosen from its population of 750 million. We have 320 million people, and all our rather newer residents fancy soccer more than golf. Yet we have more golf courses and developmental programs. We have the most robust farm system for golfers, our NCAA programs, where the best graduates go on to the pros. It is like our Clown Colleges system, where the most promising graduates get to go to Congress.
In short, there is no excuse. We should beat them a lot more than we do.
Perhaps the problem is that we Americans are by nature more individualistic. Team golf or sports is not always in our nature. Baseball players say they want to win the MLB World Series, but one player told me once that his real financial goal was beating out his backup pitcher in stats for the slot — and for that slot, he gets his own bigger contract. His competition, in reality, it was his teammate who wanted his position, as did all the other pitchers in the league.
Some are upset with U.S. Team Captain Zack Johnson for putting this yearâ€™s team together. Most had not played competitive golf since August. Yes, Ben Crenshaw made the U.S. team wear the ugliest shirts every imagined, but he inspired them to come back and win the Ryder Cup at Brookline in 1999. Zack needs to pay the guy who starts his car more money over the next few weeks until this calms down.
Italy has been fun. Higher-ups from the Vatican attended, along with U.S. government officials, sports agents, golfers, advertising execs and The Italian Prime Minister for the Ryder Cup. So, you can imagine how hard it was to get a hooker.
The Italians tell me that they feel Americans do not value the contribution they made in building our nation. They are upset that the likes of Elizabeth Warren and other woke politicians are not giving Columbus his due for discovering America, making him out to be a villain now.
With her 1/1000 percent Native American blood, the Senator for Massachusetts has fought to change Columbus Day in America to Indigenous Peopleâ€™s Day. Not be confused with the day Sen. Elizabeth Warren celebrates each year: Disingenuous Peopleâ€™s Day.
A libertarian op-ed humorist and award-winning author, Ron does commentary on radio and TV. He can be contacted at Ron@RonaldHart.com or @RonaldHart on Twitter.