It was no surprise last week when the PGA of America, owners of the Ryder Cup, and the two tours whose players make up the competing teams pushed back the matches originally scheduled for September at Whistling Straights (Kohler, Wisc.) until 2021.
The importance of protecting the tens of thousands of fans, volunteers, players, caddies and yes, media, traveling to the shores of Lake Michigan was a given.
The only surprise is it took this long to make the announcement since it has been obvious the COVID-19 virus was not going away. The health concerns had already caused the PGA Championship which the PGA of America also runs to be moved from May to August.
The one-year Ryder Cup delay may do some real harm though to the European Tour. Keith Pelley, the Tour’s chief executive, has acknowledged their shaky financial situation and it is well known when the Ryder Cup is held in Europe the millions in revenue support the Tour’s entire operation. Having to wait another year for the every-four-year payday could create a crisis.
This in turn has raised the question of a bailout from the PGA Tour, certainly an interesting possibility.
Turning to less weighty matters, the Ryder Cup’s inventory of all that 2020 logoed merchandise is being discounted 20%. They must be figuring the flags, pins, caps, shirts, belts, jackets, and sweaters will be collectibles and are looking to retrieve as much as they can. And after all there is still merchandise from the 2018 matches in stock.
Moving the dates of the Ryder Cup to September 21-26, 2021 overall has to be seen as a positive move and the announcement of the change included, “Tickets purchased for the 2020 Ryder Cup via rydercup.com will be automatically valid for the corresponding day(s) in 2021,” means at least the fans are covered.
Team USA will be on a mission to regain the Cup after the lopsided 17½ to 10½ loss to Team Europe in 2018 at Le Golf National outside Paris by relinquishing a 3 to 1 lead following the first morning’s four ball matches. This was not totally unexpected despite the power-packed roster the U.S. took to France because Europe has been dominant at home with the last U.S. win “across the pond” coming back in 1993.
The Ryder Cup is the largest, most exciting, and most closely watched international golf event and the move to odd from even years gains an additional advantage as it removes any scheduling overload for top players in Olympic years. With golf being again an Olympic sport there was a bothersome bunching of events with the Olympics followed closely by the Tour Championship and then the Ryder Cup.