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Should residency requirements play a role in the Ryder Cup?

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Another Ryder Cup loss has most of American golf shaking their heads and asking a collective “why?”

There is a tendency to overlook the bigger picture here, but the bottom line is still rather clear. The balance of power in professional golf has clearly shifted. Europe seems too much for America to handle right now, just as Great Britain & Ireland was no match for the U.S. from 1927-1979.

This is not the first time such an imbalance has existed. When golf first came to this country in the late 19th century, the U.S. was a virtual babe in the woods and all the professionals were Scots or Brits. Then, in the mid-19th century, the U.S dominated everything. It has clearly ebbed and flowed.

It got so one-sided by the 1970s that Jack Nicklaus suggested Team GB&I be expanded to include the entire continent of Europe. It was a good idea then, but perhaps not now. The face of professional golf has changed dramatically in the last 25-to-30 years to include great young players from all over the world. On face value right now, it seems as lopsided as yesterday’s 16.5-to-11.5- final score.

In 2008, the U.S. dominated Europe 16-11 under Captain Paul Azinger in the Ryder Cup, but it appears to have been an anomaly, really. Azinger’s success with his “pod system” ignited our current discussions about different captains and their different strategies. Here’s the problem, though; Europe keeps producing better players. That’s why they’ve won five of the last six Ryder Cups (and 11 of the last 15).

With nearly 750 million people in some 50 countries, Europe’s advantage has become obvious. The sheer numbers are against the U.S. (it has about 315 million people) in this now truly one-sided affair, and the era of U.S. dominance is gone and may never return. That’s why I’m for changing the format.

Because of the ideal weather conditions in many areas of the United States and the superior golf course and practice facilities, many of the players on the European team reside in the U.S. Perhaps the joint Ryder Cup committees might suggest a residency requirement, not just a birth one? Or maybe a player’s tour allegiance might have some limitations on it? If a player decides to play the PGA Tour full time, should he be allowed to compete against the U.S. in the Cup? These are just a couple format changes that may ultimately have to be considered if the current trend becomes more permanent.

It’s true that absence of Tiger Woods (injury) and Dustin Johnson (personal reasons) may have made a difference, but somehow I don’t think so. It seems lately that whatever the U.S. comes up with, Europe finds a way to top it. The Euros seemed more determined, less intimidated and freer in their play styles. “Beat the big U.S. dog” seems to drive them harder and their cream rises to the top, while the U.S. curdles.

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As always, feel free to send a swing video to my Facebook page and I will do my best to give you my feedback.
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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He now directs his own school, The Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the JW Marriott Marco Island in Naples, Fla.. He can be reached at dennisclarkgolf@gmail.com

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