Hark! The Ryder Cup is for sale!
Monday, January 11, 2010
The Ryder Cup goes on sale Jan. 13.
Checkbooks should be on display in London at the start of an auction to determine who stages the 2018 match.
Representatives from six nations will gather near Heathrow Airport to bid to stage the match. France, Germany, Holland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden are the countries in the running.
The country with the most cash will get the match.
Of course, the European Tour is not calling Wednesday’s powwow an auction. The official term is “Symposium.”
The official media blurb reads: “Headed by the European Tour’s Ryder Cup Director Richard Hills, the Symposium will outline the entire process required for a nation to host The Ryder Cup with various speakers summarizing all areas of the contest including the commercial aspect, infrastructure, security, environmental issues and media.”
The first area of concern, “the commercial aspect,” is only one that matters. That’s the way it is with the Ryder Cup.
We’ve been here before. The Tour instigated a bidding process back in the 1990s to see which Spanish course would hold the match after the decision had been made to stage the match in Spain. I seem to remember bids from courses like Novo Sancti Petri, Las Brisas and others along with eventual host course Valderrama.
Many, including me, saw the bidding process as a bit of a sham, since Valderrama was the favored course all along. Valderrama owner Jaime Ortiz Patino’s deep pockets made sure of that. When you’ve got billions in the bank that you’re willing to spend on the European Tour, then the Ryder Cup is all yours.
It’s been the same ever since. Money has been the driving force behind Ryder Cups staged in Europe for as long as I can remember. In fact, I’ve never been to a Ryder Cup in Europe where the quality of the golf course was the priority.
Dr. Michael Smurfit used the cash he made from his packaging empire to buy the 2006 match, and Sir Terry Matthews has done the same this year. Don’t think the Tour is taking the match to Celtic Manor, Wales, to reward Welsh golfers Ian Woosnam, Brian Hugget, Dai Rees, Dave Thomas and Philip Price.
No. The match is going to Wales because Matthews put up the most cash.
If the quality of the golf course was the driving force then no one would ever have heard of The Belfry, and Royal Porthcawl would be staging this year’s Ryder Cup, just as Portmarnock would have staged the 2006 match. Porthcawl is the best layout in Wales.
The Tour will defend its decision not to take the match to this Welsh gem on the basis of logistics. Royal Porthcawl has some issues when it comes to staging the match, although the Ryder Cup probably generates enough cash to overcome such logistical problems and still show a profit.
Given the plethora of great courses around these islands, it’s almost sacrilege to take the Ryder Cup to yet another American-style layout in Celtic Manor. The Tour doesn’t care about hosting golf tournaments on classic golf courses. That notion went out the window ages ago. Mammon rules when it comes to the Ryder Cup, or any other tournament.
It’s been 29 years since the match was held on a classic British course – the 1981 contest at Walton Heath, a classic heathland gem. It’s even longer since the match was staged on a true links. The 1977 match at Royal Lytham & St. Annes was the last to be played beside the sea on this side of the pond.
It could be decades before the match is staged over one of Britain’s or Ireland’s classic courses. The 2014 match will be played over the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles, another American-type layout. Moreover, the Tour has previously said it’s committed to staging the match on Continental Europe until 2030.
For my money, I’d rate the bidding countries in the following order: Sweden and France equal first, Germany second, Holland third, Portugal fourth and Spain last.
However, it’s not my money that counts. I don’t have enough it. Whoever has the most will get the greatest team event in golf.