Gary Player: Europe needs to involve the rest of the world to take on the Americans

The runaway victory of the USA Team over the Europeans in The Ryder Cup was only to be expected, but I was very impressed and proud of the way the European players handled their loss with such dignity.

At the presentation they put their arms around the American players and spoke most eloquently in congratulating them, looking eye to eye. It’s easy to be a good winner but it’s never easy to be a good loser.

The outcome of The Ryder Cup was always going to be in the Americans’ favour with so few European spectators in the galleries to cheer on their team, due to the Covid pandemic. But there’s nothing that can be done about the behaviour of the American fans. Unfortunately, all the shouting, screaming and boos, go with the territory in the USA.

It’s a different world and a different game these days, and whether you like it or not it’s here to stay. You’ve just got accept the behaviour of the noise and the atmosphere and learn to take it or leave it. Certainly, it would be very difficult to try and do anything about it in the USA.

The Europeans have virtually dominated The Ryder Cup over the past 12 years, but the tide has now changed. Something big has got to happen to improve European golf over the next two years to make it an evenly matched tournament. The Europeans will have to pull a rabbit out of the hat before they go to Italy for the next encounter. The Americans have produced a world-class team and there’s nothing to predict that it will be any different in Italy.

The Ryder Cup will have to change with the times if it’s going to prolong its popularity as the most exciting team event in the world golf. The fans want to see the best players globally battling it out in a team format, along with the worldwide television networks.

There’s a simple solution. Change the format of the event into the USA against the rest of the world. It’s the only chance I can see that would make The Ryder Cup a truly competitive tournament, just as it used to be.

We don’t want The Ryder Cup to lose its great fascination. I was watching the action with some friends on television when several of them said: ‘Let’s go and play golf – the event is all over,’ but it was way before it was over. We don’t want to see that happening. It’s how it used to be in the old days. I never used to look on a Monday morning who had won The Ryder Cup. Now, over the last 12 years the excitement has returned but all that could change if we are not careful.

The public want to see the best in all aspects of the tournament. If it becomes a one-way stretch it may have to become a contest between the USA and the rest of the world. It could certainly happen, sooner than we think.

Bryson DeChambeau attracted a great deal of interest at Whistling Straits with his prodigious big-hitting, but believe me, we are in the infancy of ever-increasing driving distances. Long-driving challenges have already reached 464 yards yet there’s simply no limit to how far they can go. The authorities need to do something about reducing yardages. We are frequently witnessing drives of 400-yards-plus and it won’t be too long before we see 450-yard drives-plus. It’s making many of our historic golf courses redundant.

It’s ludicrous that six holes of the Old Course at St.Andrews, the Home of Golf, can be reached by most of the players in the field. We can expect to see tournament rounds of around 60,61,62 on a regular basis, which is ridiculous. If you can’t protect the course, you’ve got a serious problem.

I have often used a range finder when I’m practicing. It’s a useful time-saver. When Ben Hogan played, he knew the yardages merely from sight. He didn’t need to look at a Green Book or a yardage chart – they didn’t exist. We all learned to play with insight, instinct and feel to judge things. If you can’t read the course naturally, you’ve got a serious problem. When you’ve got the benefit of two or three practice rounds before you tee-off you don’t need a book. More and more youngsters rely on distance guides, but the authorities should ban them altogether.

During the Ryder Cup I was in Arizona with Bob Parsons, founder of PXG. His set-up is at Scottsdale National is phenomenal. He must have spent millions on the gymnasium, spa, and cottages, which must be seen to be believed. It’s little wonder that he charges $500,000 for membership. The PXG brand has become well know for its high-end golf clubs, but he’s now got a more affordable line, which has really taken-off. Bob is very passionate about the game and PXG, which is great to see, as most manufacturers are now owned by investment firms – and it’s all about the money.

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