Getaways Blog

30 October 2016

Long live 'The King'

Arnold Palmer epitomised everything great about the game of golf. He was known as ‘The King’ for more than just his golfing abilities, and his charisma sometimes outshone his huge golfing talent. He was the first to introduce a swashbuckling style to a game which had so long been thought of as one played by stuffy old men wearing funny hats. Palmer’s choice in clothing brought a sense of cool to the fairways, with his broad collared shirts, perfectly ironed pants and fashion sunglasses which said more 'Steve McQueen' than 'professional golfer'. Palmer was golf’s first millionaire and his income from the game and business interests surpassed anyone else in the game’s history, even year’s after he retired.

Perhaps, even more, endearing to his millions of fans around the world than his golfing prowess was the integrity he displayed both on and off the golf course. Galleries were always on his side, willing him on to victory but Palmer always made sure the playing field was level and would often call for his adoring fans to settle down and show respect to his playing opponents so that they too were afforded the same courtesy he was shown. It’s hard to believe now, but even the great Jack Nicklaus encountered hostile crowds when he first came onto the professional circuit and was duelling for victory in many tournaments against Palmer.

It would be interesting to get Arnold Palmer’s thoughts on The Ryder Cup. The biannual event held between the best golfers from Europe and the United States has seen its fair share of controversy over recent years and sometimes the spirit in which the games have been played has been questionable.

This doesn’t apply only to the actions of some of the over-excited players. The crowd behaviour has also been poor in both the US and Europe. Parochial home crowds have taken the intensity to fever pitch levels and it can be hard to get used to crowds cheering when putts are missed by the other team – this is something that is just so foreign to fans of the game of golf.

The 2016 edition played at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota, promised to bring all the usual drama that has played out over almost every edition of golf’s largest international team’s competition. However, it was the USA who grabbed home advantage with both hands and ended up resounding winners. They broke Europe’s winning streak over the last 3 events and claimed a 17 – 11 victory.

There were some epic duels with Rory McIlroy just upstaged by Patrick Reed in the singles but much of the focus had been on the heckling that McIlroy received from some members of the crowd. The Northern Irishman asking for one particularly unruly individual to be ejected when his comments towards him crossed the line.

Things could well have been inflamed even before the event began, when the brother of 2016 US Masters champion Danny Willett, wrote an article that appeared in National Club Golfer Magazine stating that Europe needed to "silence the pudgy, basement-dwelling irritants" and "smash the obnoxious dads, with their shiny teeth, Lego man hair, medicated ex-wives and resentful children".

He went on to describe Americans as "fat, stupid, greedy and classless".

This surely provided some of the American crowd with plenty of ammunition and reason for vitriol against the Europeans and a source of motivation for the members of the American team.

However, it was refreshing to see great sportsmanship between the teams. Many of these guys compete week in, week out on their respective tours and are firm friends away from the course. The post-match press conference saw smiles from both teams and reflected the spirit that we want to see the game played in.

The Ryder Cup’s next edition will be played out in Paris at Le Golf National in 2018 and will be a fantastic event for everyone playing in and attending.

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