Golf fans are usually subdued and a bit quieter than most sports fans, at least while the game is being played. Quiet is called for before every shot to ensure not to break an athlete’s concentration. Breaker’s of this rule are often ostracized and removed from courses.
In this stoic and professional world there remains one event that is the antithesis of this year round tradition: the Ryder Cup.
This is the Metallica concert of golf.
It’s an event so loud and boisterous that it might as well not be played without the throngs of fans that usually descend from the four corners of the world to witness Team USA and Team Europe battle it out on the greens. Held a week after the pressure cooker known as the U.S. Open, the tournament often allows the world’s top golfers an opportunity to blow off a little steam as well.
This year is different though, and safety isn’t guaranteed on the course or in the field house.
That’s the thought of the PGA as it cancelled the Ryder Cup for 2020 citing the coronavirus pandemic, saying instead that the event will be held in Sept. 2021 in Wisconsin at Whistling Straits.
“Unlike other major sporting events that are played in existing stadiums, we had to make a decision now about building facilities to host the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits,” PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said to Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press. “It became clear that as of today, our medical experts and the public authorities in Wisconsin could not give us certainty that conducting an event responsibly with thousands of spectators in September would be possible. Given that uncertainty, we knew rescheduling was the right call.
“The spectators who support both the U.S. and European sides are what make the Ryder Cup such a unique and compelling event and playing without them was not a realistic option.”
The PGA Tour became involved because the Presidents Cup — matches every other year between Americans and an International team from everywhere but Europe — was scheduled for 2021 at Quail Hollow Club in North Carolina.
While the Presidents Cup doesn’t have the level of tradition or rivalry as the nearly century-old Ryder Cup, it was a corporate sellout for the PGA Tour. Voiding various vendor contracts figures to be costly for the PGA Tour in a year in which it already has spent millions helping support so many tournaments that were canceled by the shutdown.
The Ryder Cup is the main financial lifeline for the European Tour, and now it must wait until 2023 for the matches in Italy. That’s another tough blow in a series of strong shots to the bottom line of companies around the world both big and small.
The Ryder Cup becomes the second big event to leave the golf calendar this year due to the pandemic. The British Open was canceled and will return to Royal St. George’s in 2021. The other majors have been rearranged, with the PGA Championship Aug. 6-9 at Harding Park in San Francisco with no spectators.
The U.S. Open is now set for Sept. 17-20 at Winged Foot, with the Masters on Nov. 12-15. It has not been determined if spectators will be allowed.
That remains the issue with no fans in attendance for events like Ryder Cup. They become like so many of the virtual concerts that are popping up on Facebook Live or streamed to YouTube: a fun, temporary distraction, but not nearly the same as witnessing it live. For now though, that’s the only way we’ll get our concerts and sporting events.
Full of phony sound and fabricated fury, streamed live on our favorite platforms, but ultimately signifying nothing.
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