There is a lot of concern and discussion about the future of the Presidents Cup and rightly so.
The Americans have now won the last seven meet-ups and they are 10 wins, one tie and one loss overall.
This year, the International team encountered one of the strongest USA teams ever assembled and they performed to a level only attained once before and that was by the 1961 USA Ryder Cup Team.
The administrators of the event proclaim the severe lopsided results are not of interest to most of the spectators, instead espousing the opinion that the viewers come to watch great golf.
This might be partly true. However, live patrons aren’t the big problem. The big problem comes in the form of player interest and even more important is TV ratings. As interest from TV viewers wanes, it will be reflected in diminishing advertiser dollars.
Player interest might enter the discussion at some point given the top USA players represent their country every year. As purses grow and players are faced with increasingly more and more attractive reasons to enter certain tournaments and bypass others, their reasons for playing will change.
The best players are becoming multi-millionaires before the age of 25 meaning money isn’t the only factor and with the demand for them to appear at high-profile events, extensive travel is inevitable. Burnout looms as an ever-increasing force.
There is another cloud on the horizon.
For years the Europeans clobbered the Americans in Ryder Cup competition for a variety of reasons. The most common concept presented is the camaraderie found on the European Team as they play a more condensed travel area.
Second to that is the thought the Euros are more familiar with the team formats, best ball and alternate shots. While this might have been true in the early 1970s and into the 1990s, a very different situation is now in place.
Two influences are coming into effect. First, the top players in the USA actually like each other. They have grown up together through junior golf. They travel and practice together. This newfound friendship is something that was lacking for the past two decades or more.
Not only that, but the Americans post-Tiger are better players. Tiger was so dominant there were two standards – his and everyone else’s. With Tiger currently out of the equation there is a more level playing field. Everyone else can now compete against each other without being over shadowed and they are rising to a new level taught to them by Tiger.
The USA Team features more than half the players who qualify for both the Ryder Cup and The Presidents Cup. That means those USA players are gaining experience in the team events and the experience of playing for a team twice as often as their European and their International opponents who may or may not qualify every other year.
So here is the problem. In 2016, the American team won the Ryder Cup by a score of 17-11. It is the most dominating American victory in many, many years. It comes after the Americans decided to make a more concentrated effort.
The victory isn’t the problem. The complete dominance, the new “love-in” of their players and their compounding experience in team match play formats is a very big problem.
The Ryder Cup is one of the most viewed sporting events in the world. Generating millions of dollars it is the financial backbone of the European Tour. Any loss in popularity would transfer into serious ramifications for every event on that tour.
Undoubtedly, the Ryder Cup is on cruise control in the upper atmosphere, but the organizers should be paying close attention to the fact they have enjoyed a ride similar to that of Ron Turcotte on Secretariat in 1973.
What if the success/dominance of the Americans in the 2017 Presidents Cup is a sign of things to come? How long will the European Team wish to continue competing if the winning point totals are so separated? How long will the patrons attend to see great golf? How long will TV put up the big bucks?
Sure, given they only play the Ryder Cup every other year, does it really matter? Yes, it matters. A lot is riding on it including the existence of the European Tour.
Further, this topic should be a major point of discussion at every meeting of the future planning committee. They need to be cognizant not only of the demise of the Presidents Cup and any alterations put forth by their management forces, but they should also be constantly aware of changes in society, business and golf that might impact the Ryder Cup.
Even Secretariat was put out to pasture.