Dhe Ryder Cup – just a look at the numbers shows why it is considered the greatest spectacle in golf. More than 500 million sports fans in 183 countries watched the victory of the European selection against the team of the United States in front of the television screens in the last edition in 2018 in the Paris area. 270,000 fans experienced the prestige duel between the twelve best professionals from Europe and the United States on site, with 235 million euros flowing into the French economy. Even if almost half of the audience were French, the visitors came from all over the world, from around 90 countries.
The audience will not be so international next week on the Straits Course of Whistling Straits in Haven, Wisconsin. Because of the corona travel restrictions to the United States that are still in place, at least 95 percent of the 43rd Ryder Cup, which has been postponed by a year due to the pandemic, will be attended by 40,000 spectators from Tuesday to Sunday. A home advantage that Team USA only enjoyed in the early days of this competition.
When the trophy, donated by the English seed dealer Samuel Ryder, was first played in 1927, the host Americans in Worcester, Massachusetts were still facing the Great Britain team. But even when Great Britain called golfers from Ireland to the team, the superiority of the Americans was so overwhelming that hardly anyone was interested in the Ryder Cup. The success story of this team competition only began when the golf legend Jack Nicklaus suggested at the end of the 1970s that a European team should compete.
Everyone wants to demonstrate their superiority
The now 81-year-old Nicklaus had recognized that Europe would be an equal opponent with players like the Spaniard Severiano Ballesteros and the German Bernhard Langer. Since 1979, when the twelve best professionals from both sides of the Atlantic faced each other, Europe has won eleven times and Team USA nine times – even though the Europeans have been ranked worse and worse in the addition of the world rankings.
The balance of the teams is only one component of success. In contrast to almost all professional tournaments, the Ryder Cup is not played in stroke play, but rather in match play. The fascination of these duels, on the first two days in the foursome, as the doubles in golf are called, and on the final day in the singles, is increased by the fact that, thanks to the transatlantic competition, every team wants to demonstrate its superiority – and the audience frenetically without much consideration wants to contribute to the success of his men on the golf etiquette.
The protagonists do everything they can, although there is no prize money to be won. This is also what makes the Ryder Cup so unique. It is the only golf tournament where there is only one reward: to win for your continent, for your country.