Five reasonable ways to energize the Presidents Cup
Let's not sugarcoat it: In terms of buildup and excitement, the Presidents Cup pales in comparison to its sister tournament, the Ryder Cup. Blame it on the lack of competitiveness (the United States owns a 8-1-1 record in the cup's history) or cohesiveness (some of the International teammates don't speak the same language), but public care is lacking for this event.
In the latest installment of Major Moments, the Golf Digest writers and editors discuss what can be done to galvanize the Presidents Cup:
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While all good ideas, we want to take the idea a step further with five seemingly radical, yet totally reasonable, ways to energize the cup:
Abolish the captain's picks and give the final say to the people.
True, if ungoverned, this could lead to the likes of John Daly ballots and Happy Gilmore write-ins. However, voting occurs in other sports, most notably in all-star games, and for the most part, fans get it right. To prohibit a Daly-esque issue, simply limit the candidates for election (similar to MLB's "Final Vote" campaign).
Our gallery integration doesn't stop at team construction. We want the fans to have a say in the event's format as well. Voting will determine the match-ups for the day, as well as scoring system. Can you imagine a Bubba Watson/Dustin Johnson vs. Jason Day/Adam Scott scramble? Or better yet, a Sunday pairing of Day against Jordan Spieth? The decision would be in your grasp.
In the last 20 or so years, the Ryder Cup has transformed from an exhibition of the sport to, at times, a hostile affair. Cheers after missed putts, rowdy crowds distracting play, calls of unsportsmanlike conduct. Dispositions usually foreign to the game of golf.
And for that we say, good!
When North Carolina is at the free throw line against Duke, the Cameron Crazies don't watch in silence. The same pathos directs to the Ravens' Joe Flacco when he goes under center in the Steel City. Why can't golf embrace this behavior?
We aren't proposing this conduct be applicable to the PGA Tour schedule. Conversely, what's wrong with a bit of patriotism mixed with the amphitheater of the 16th hole at the Phoenix Open? Our proposition allows fans to make noise at all times, which isn't that outlandish. If a baseball crowd can holler at a batter trying to hit a 99-mph pitch that could be headed towards their dome, golfers can deal with some extracurricular activity in attempts to hit a stationary ball.
2. Cypress Point Club
Pebble Beach, Calif., U.S.A. 6,524 yards, Par 72 Pebble Beach, Calif., U.S.A. Alister MacKenzie's masterpiece, woven through cypress, sand dunes and jagged coastline. In the 2000s, member Sandy Tatum, a former USGA president who christened Cypress Point as the Sistine Chapel of golf, convinced the club not to combat technology by adding new back tees, but instead make a statement by celebrating its original architecture. So Cypress remains timeless, if short, its charm helped in part by the re-establishment of MacKenzie's fancy bunkering.
This is discussed in the video above, but it warrants repeating: The Presidents Cup needs a boost in venues. Outside of Royal Melbourne G.C. and Muirfield Village, the host courses have lacked gravitas and pizzazz. In golf broadcasts, the course is just as much a character, if not more so, than the players' performances. We need a star at the center of this production.
Pine Valley G.C. is ostensibly a pie in the sky, yet, as it's hosted the Walker Cup as recently as 1985, it's a concept not totally out of the question. Other courses on our wish list: National Golf Links of America, Fishers Island Club, Cypress Point, and any of the Bandon Dunes offerings for the American submissions; New South Wales, Cape Kidnappers, Hirono G.C. for the Internationals.
The Presidents Cup should be a showcase for the game. With golf blessed with an influx of young talent, this can be a platform for up-and-comers to shine. We've seen Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar thousands of times. Give guys like Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Tony Finau a chance to prove their merit.
Less is More
In its current configuration, each team has 12 members, with the event lasting four days. That's excessive on both accounts. Shorten the competition to three days, perhaps even two, and downsize the roster to eight players.
Part of the International club's historical struggle has been its depth, or should we say, the absence of such. Limiting the amount of contestants can make the Presidents Cup a more challenged affair.
As for scaling back on time, the current four-day period seems to dilute the product. A two-day battle puts more emphasis on the proceedings, an important factor considering the Presidents Cup is going against playoff baseball and the behemoth of American football. At the moment, the Presidents Cup has a "Oh, that's still going on? Guess I'll flip over" feel.
This new run time, as well as the suggestions above, provides a more must-see theater vibe.
If the Presidents Cup holds aspirations to be a true staple on the golf calendar, it's a sentiment that desperately needs to be instilled.