The Ryder Cup challenge
THE RECENT Ryder Cup, which drew so much interest from golfers and non-golfers alike because of the unbelievable comeback of the Europeans, did not come as a complete surprise to me.
Europe was down 6-10 going into the last day. This required four out of 12 wins for the United States to bring the Ryder Cup home. One would ordinarily think that this was not too difficult a feat for such a team, given that its members were playing on home soil.
Yet it turned out that it was.
The Europeans have a monopoly on the world rankings. Four out of the world’s top five players, with the exception of third-ranked Tiger Woods, all come from Europe. This also is of no surprise to me. Allow me to share in this piece the reasons why.
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I’m blessed with the experience of having played competitive golf in European soil during my heyday in such tournaments as the Italian, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and British Amateur Opens. The playing conditions alone are extremely difficult, not to mention the field you are competing against.
You are forced to adjust to extreme weather conditions that can easily shift in a span of minutes. A certain kind of mental toughness and determination take root in your heart, just so you can finish your round in one piece.
If your basic fundamentals in golf are not in place—grip, stance, alignment and swing—you will fall apart under the extreme pressure.
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Two players who won majors this year are from the United States, namely Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson. They played in the recent Ryder Cup. They both defy the logic of golf in terms of fundamentals.
Though the two have succeeded in joining the elite, in my opinion they will be more susceptible to breaking down when faced with extreme pressure. And nothing can compare to the pressure of playing for your country and your team.
The Europeans who played in this year’s Ryder Cup possess their own individual swings and styles but their basics are sound and fall within the acceptable range.
I feel that this is something we can all learn from in developing our golfers.
We must give them the proper basics and expose them to the different playing conditions.
This will give them the tools to be able to have a fighting chance when they come under extreme pressure. This will also enable our players to relish every moment out there while competing against the playing field and against themselves in tough, windy conditions.
And we must not leave education out of the equation. I feel that it complements the making of the complete golfer.