|This is a lot more exciting than just one guy holding a trophy. (Getty Images)|
On Sunday evening, hours after Martin Kaymer had put the finishing touches on one of the greatest comebacks in sports history, questions were flying all over the place. What happened to the Americans? Who is the biggest goat of this 2012 Ryder Cup? Why are the Europeans so solid in this event, and why can't the United States get over the hump?
But one thing everyone, no matter the nationality or handicap or interest in golf, can agree on is that golf needs more team events. Bottom line, it needs to happen.
One of the best parts about sports is rooting for a team. As a kid you find the Dodgers or the Seahawks or the Knicks and you stick with that team all your life, win or lose, good season or putrid season. You buy their gear and teach your kids the history of the organization and buy tickets to go watch them in whatever capacity allows you to be that kid again.
Golf doesn't have that. People are fans of players, but a serious putt on the 17th hole at Augusta National doesn't immediately affect you. It is a big deal for the golfer in question, and the caddie, and that person's agent and coach and wife and family. But if Tiger Woods wins the Masters, or doesn't win the Masters, it isn't really pulling at your fandom strings. You can be a fan of certain players but they don't sell Zach Johnson hats in the Bethpage Black pro shop for you to rock during the U.S. Open.
For the most part, golf fans root for good golf. We want to see Rory McIlroy vs. Tiger, or Phil Mickelson fire a nasty final round at Pebble Beach. We hope to see an incredible hole-out to decide a tournament or a gutsy performance by an unknown to grab the spotlight from one of the top players.
The Ryder Cup changes that. Americans root for the American team, the Europeans root for their squad, and everyone in the world jumps on which team they like the most. It gives golf a chance to be something more than just one guy out there beating the brains out of his competitors.
The interesting thing about the Ryder Cup, and the Presidents Cup for that matter, is that unlike tennis' Davis Cup, you have all the matches going on at the same time. It's exciting. You know where the pin position is on No. 14 because Bubba Watson already played it in his match and Dustin Johnson is about to tee off on it. By the time the last matches reached 18, everyone paying even a little bit of attention on Sunday at Medinah knew where to hit it and where not to hit it, and most fans knew how quick that putt was down the hill that Jim Furyk faced in his singles match against Sergio Garcia.
So why don't we have more team golf events?
First, there needs to be something at stake. The Tavistock Cup fails in viewer's interest because, frankly, there isn't really anything to play for. It's a bunch of professional golfers flying in on their private helicopters playing golf in front of even richer people that get to toast their success while rocking their respective country club garb. It isn't exciting because nobody, not even the players, really care that much ("Oh sweet, another $100,000, cash that one when you get a minute, OK?").
The Presidents Cup isn't as exciting as the Ryder Cup simply because the history isn't there yet. It first started in 1994 and as the years go by, and the International team improves, it'll gain steam.
But team golf is fun. Match play is fun. Watching these guys play formats that we, the normal golfer play, is exciting.
Why not take a page from the NHL and make the FedEx Cup finals a team event with the entire purse on the line? Have the No. 1 and No. 2 guys on the FedEx Cup standings page get to pick their 12-person team from the top 30 on the list and battle for all the money. And you could even make it a match within a match, with the highest point getter from the winning team landing the biggest winner's percentage, with the second point getter receiving slightly less, and so on. Who wouldn't get behind this and find a team they really like or watch when these professional golfers are snagging their team like a pick-up basketball game (only an eight-figure game)? It would also drum up that old theme that these guys want money to play in the Ryder Cup, and the pressure would be pretty intense if you weren't only putting to win something for your team, but also to win some money for yourself.
The Ryder Cup is easily one of the top two events in the game of golf because it combines patriotism with sports. It's the Olympics for golf*. The format is great, the atmosphere is great, and the pressure is addictive.
Team golf is too good to closet 51 weeks of the year. There are opportunities to get this going. Why not start now?
(*And speaking of the Olympics, if they didn't watch these Ryder Cup matches and immediately go to the drawing board to find some sort of team aspect of this with match play being the central culprit, I don't know what to say. If 2016 has the words "stroke play" anywhere near the description, I might boycott the golf at Rio.)