Monday, October 10, 2016

A Look Back at Ryder Cup 2016

It has been a week since I returned from the Ryder Cup. I prefer to digest the experience, while avoiding reading what others have written about the event so as not to prejudice my own unique voice and then share my thoughts with all of you. Before I get to my words about the Ryder Cup, I would love to share a slideshow with you that I have prepared.

Thank goodness, the US Team actually won at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. I was beginning to feel as though my presence was a jinx. So much so that I purposely limited my purchases in the merchandise tent, except for an RLX sweater for my husband, a beautiful 47 scarf and bedazzled USA hat by New Era for myself. 

The 47 Ryder Cup Scarf
The Bedazzled New Era USA Hat
In advance of the Ryder Cup my friend who works for a company called PRGolf, which makes Bespoke Golf Accessories was kind enough to send me a 12 Strong Putter Headcover, that they had created for the tournament. These were the putter covers in the bags of all Team USA players. It is absolutely something that would have been challenging to avoid buying within the merchandise tent.

How gorgeous is this head cover?

The PRG Golf Website is

In the past, I have gone overboard in the merchandise tent at Medinah and Gleneagles Country Club, purchasing what a friend of mine coined, “loser gear” none of which I ever wear. I associate bad memories with Sunday in particular and have no desire to rock.  No Fashion Update exists for the Nike polo, which I doled out $90 for at Medinah because it resides, where it belongs, in the back of my closet. I did not even purchase a Pin Flag at Hazeltine because I feared it would have brought uncertain doom upon the US Team. Confession, there are framed “loser gear” flags hanging in my home. The US finally wins and I do not possess the flag.
The victorious US Captain, Davis Love the III

Hazeltine National Golf Club is outrageously beautiful; the course conditions far surpassed those at Gleneagles or Medinah. The greens looked gorgeous and the fairways were pristine. The Greens’ Staff, lead by Chris Tritabaugh did a remarkable job caring for the course, in spite of the excessive amounts of rain Mother Nature bestowed upon the Midwest during the summer of 2016.

Yes, Davis Love, the US Captain decided the Set Up Strategy for the golf course, which included shorter rough, much to Justin Roses’ dismay.  The crowds want to see birdies; this is, in spite of what it has morphed into, an exhibition, allegedly. It is not one of golf’s majors. I do to truly appreciate the Olympic Gold Medalist as a champion and for his philanthropic endeavors but his remarks were sour grapes after losing.  They were highly ungrateful comments to the people who spent countless hours preparing the course for the tournament. His comments seemed out of character, and now looking back they can most likely be attributed to the fact that he was suffering with back issues. Rose will be out of commission for eight weeks to recuperate from disc herniation. I really want to give Justin a pass, for this remark that irked me.

Which brings me to a few other instances that I took umbrage with at the start of Ryder Cup Week.  Phil Mickelson decided Festivus came early. He initiated the Airing of the Grievances by citing how he felt that Hal Sutton underprepared he and Tiger Woods by informing them on two days notice that they were going to be partnered together at the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills Country Club. Which in turn gave Tiger and Phil no time to adjust to each other’s golf balls. Of course, Hall Sutton responded in kind and a mini-feud ensued. Shots are always fired prior to the first tee ball being struck at a Ryder Cup but it is ridiculous that Team USA was infighting at the offset of the week. I love that Phil is very outspoken but timing is everything. Why did he have to unleash this at this moment in 2016? He had been clearly holding onto these ill feelings and biting his tongue for 12 years. Initiating this verbal sparring at the start of a Ryder Cup week was in poor taste.

Since, I am addressing things in poor taste that brings me to PJ Willett, who clearly has not adjusted to life as a mini twitter celebrity. He thought it a good idea to craft a piece for National Club Golfer attacking US Fans. Yes, what he wrote was in jest and I laughed about the bit the shiny teeth and the Lego hair but, often our intent matters little and perception is everything. If I was the reigning Masters’ Champion and PJ Willett was my little brother, I would be mortified. I would also want to kick his ass because he was essentially throwing me out there in enemy territory in front of crowds that now harbored animosity due to his verbal attack, even if it was in humor. It is horrifyingly embarrassing when the extremely classy European Ryder Cup Captain, Darren Clarke has to come forward and issue a statement that this is not the view of Team Europe.

Please do not waste your breathe telling me that the spectators reinforced what PJ wrote with their behavior. What he did was stir up a storm. I was at Hazeltine Thursday through Sunday from sun up to sundown. A majority of the fans were respectful. I only encountered a few drunken idiots on Saturday afternoon.  Sidebar, I encountered the same type of drunken stupidity in Scotland two years ago at Gleneagles.

If the Ryder Cup tournament organizers are going to serve alcohol for the duration of a day, this boisterous intoxicated boorish behavior will continue to ensue among some. On Saturday afternoon I was by the seventh green when one idiot accosted Rory McIlroy. I will not regurgitate here verbatim what was said because why give some loser more airtime. From what I understand, this guy was escorted out.

Adjacent the seventh green you had one large bleacher, directly behind the green was what I will call an alcohol smorgasbord. It is a fairly remote location on the golf course, running adjacent the water. People could go perch on 7 and 8 with access to alcohol very convenient.

The worst thing that I witnessed on Saturday afternoon happened on ten, where four men were yelling kick his drive when Thomas Pieters' drive landed. Interfering with play is completely out of line. Thank goodness for quick acting marshals.

One of my friends and I were talking about how this issue could best be addressed, what we came up with after some discussion was a bracelet that limits the amount of alcohol you can purchase over a set period of time. This would also serve as an admission ticket to the event. People probably would not go buy a beverage for a friend, if they knew they were giving up a beverage for themselves in doing so. Perhaps then, I do not see a dude vomiting behind a greenside grandstand late Saturday.

Sunday afternoon on the second hole, I parked myself adjacent to a spot where the drives were landing. While I was perched in this spot I met a lovely family who had traveled to Minnesota from San Diego for the week. The parents were exemplary human beings I could assess that after about ten minutes. The two little boys, I learned were both junior golfers. Each time a pairing came through they were enthusiastic for the European and the American player. The Mom was commiserating to me about how frustrating Saturday was due to the drunken behavior and foul language being used by some. Over the course of the week, I saw tons of kids out on the course. This is golf’s grandest event and it is great for kids to see an exciting match-play format.

Me, chilling on the range
If you are still following along with this blog, please allow me to tell you about some of my favorite things. The music blasting from the first tee was sensational. The sound system that was installed at Hazeltine was epic. The sound carried all of the way to the driving range. How many times can one hear Let’s Go Crazy by Prince, a lifetime Minnesotan? The answer is, not nearly enough times. These beats pumped the crowd up into tremendous spirits at the first tee.

The most terrific thing that happened at the first tee box was the throng of spectators spontaneously busting into the National Anthem, whilst taking their hats off. It really warmed my heart, people of every race singing in unison. In light of all of the recent National Anthem protesting as of late, this was just spectacular.

Speaking of national pride, adjacent the tenth hole there were not one but three bald eagles nesting. I thought their presence was highly fortuitous. On several occasions they swooped down while play was taking place. Once Brandt Snedeker was addressing his second shot and two eagles gave him pause.

Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka were my favorite American pairing on the golf course all week. They were visibly comfortable together and based on the smiles plastered on their faces it was evident they were having fun. Shouldn’t the essence of a match play competition be fun? I got to witness their joint decision making skills up close when one of Brandt’s drives went errant right directly to the space where I was standing. Brooks recovered hitting a ridiculous shot around some trees toward the green. It was a thing of beauty. I was a little disappointed when they were broken up for one round.

On 12 Brandt even donned a Viking hat belonging to some jovial spectators, who wore USA hockey jerseys and had written a song for every golfer that came through. These fellas were among what I will call the Best Dressed at the Ryder Cup. I prefer to do red, white and blue in an understated way(see Fashion Updates on Instagram) but, admire people that go all out. On Thursday, I 

An adorable couple that I met on the course

encountered this adorable couple on 12. The woman confessed to me that she collects patriotic attire and accessories specifically to wear to Ryder Cup. I also saw, Abraham Lincoln on the first tee, people in USA Flag onesies with fannie packs and European fans in European Flag plus fours. There was no shortage of nationalistic clothing on display everywhere you looked. There was also an array of bizarre: an elderly man donning nothing by a white trash bag with a Santa hat and an individual with a cardboard cutout of a giant cat face.

Sunday singles produced multiple amazing duels. Rory and Patrick Reed were on fire. I did hear people complaining on Sirius XM PGA Tour radio post Ryder Cup that they felt this match went overboard with the fist pumping, that it was offensive golf. Who are these people that do not want to see golfers wearing their emotions blatantly? I love seeing fist pumping. These two were having good fun together, goading each other on. It was marvelous. Patrick Reed is absolutely the American answer to Ian Poulter where Ryder Cup is concerned.

Phil and Sergio had an insane match. Phil made ten birdies and a bogie. Sergio made nine birdies, shooting nine under and still halving the match. Once again this was a visibly emotional 18 holes. I thought Sunday at the Open Championship was the best shot we were going to be privileged to see from Mickelson this year but, I would put this duel with Sergio right up there in the echelons of great golf.

In closing, the only disappointment that I have with regard to this Ryder Cup was with the throngs of people and my desire to not sit in one spot, it made it challenging to connect with friends. It was very crowded in Chaska. Sorry I missed, Mary, Chris and Levi. On the plus side, I did film a golf blooper video with one friend that may or may not see the light of day due to my mediocre acting skills. You are apparently not supposed to laugh when you are feigning unconscious…


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Masters Tuesday Practice Round Photo Slideshow

There are no words that will suffice to describe the visually stunning golf experience that is Augusta National Golf Club. Please enjoy a slideshow of the photos that I took at the Tuesday Practice Round, last week.