If you can't annoy someone, there is little point in writing.
-- Kingsley Amis
Golf Digest, Golf World and golfdigest.com, as usual, cleaned up in the annual Golf Writers Association awards announced recently. I won't name all of the winners except to say that Bill Fields and his Golf World colleagues dominated the non-daily news and Guy Yocom, Jaime Diaz and their colleagues did the same in special projects. Fields won first and third for features on the deaths of Jim Simons and Byron Nelson, respectively, and Diaz and Yocom for Golf Digest's music and golf package and Yocom's replay of Nicklaus' 1986 Masters victory for our April issue. Our magazines were recognized 17 times in all.
I bring these up not to brag (okay, to brag a little) but to have an excuse to mention Dan Jenkins' winning column, his account of the Ryder Cup, and his follow-up in February, How I'd Fix the Ryder Cup. Nobody generates more mail than Dan and that last column brought a ton of it, some positive. It also brought the best idea I've heard for a while, from Ken Artingstall of Glendale, Calif. Here's Ken's fix, emphasized with lots of capital letters:
"Send ballots 4-6 weeks before the event to all eligible Tour Players listing the current 100 top-rated U.S. Professionals. Voila! A peerless peer-elected team!"
I love a guy who spouts French to fix the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Plus, the idea intrigues. Aside from the fact that in Ryder Cup preparation time you can't get the color of the wive's skirts chosen in 4-6 weeks, it works. Basically, make the Ryder Cup like football's Pro Bowl: Let the players decide who's on the team. Unfortunately, after all of the hoopla and speculation on who would vote for whom, I'm afraid the players would just vote rank and file; they'd look at the money list, and say, well, those guys deserve to be there then vote right down the list. And we'd be back to square one, or 19 and a half to 8, whichever comes first. And so I'm suggesting a slight alteration.
Work with me, Ken. What if we modeled selection on baseball's All-Star Game, that is, let the fans decide! Could we do worse than last year's drumming? Plus, we'd have John Daly for the next five Matches. The gallery rules!
Okay, so the PGA may not go for this, given the tradition of the Ryder Cup and so on and so on. How about the Presidents Cup? Wouldn't the idea of fan vote make the Presidents Cup a lot more exciting? Generate a little fan interest? Plus, it eliminates the scapegoat. Q: "Captain Nicklaus, what happened? You were snookered! " A: "Not my fault! Who could win with this team? I sure didn't pick 'em!" I don't know how you'd do a fan vote for the "world" team, but we'll assign a task force to that. Greg Norman can head it up. Or, we'd let the Americans vote for both teams. Hey, is it our fault we're better organized and we generally know best?
I think the players might be all right with this new populist selection system, given one corollary: "If chosen for the Presidents Cup, I don't have to play in another biennual match-play event for six years."
Now we've got it.