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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

Courses

Say it, Jim Nance: “A golf destination like no other”

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Millions-year-old limestone formations were integrated into the design at Mountain Top Golf Course near Branson, Missouri. The new course was designed by Gary Player in tandem with Bass Pros Shops Founder Johnny Morris.

Maybe it was while hitting to greens surrounded by stunning millions-year-old exposed limestone at Mountain Top Course.

Or it could have been when sipping a tequila concoction while riding my golf cart past underground waterfalls on the Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail, an unexpected mind-blower included with my greens fee at the adjacent Jack Nicklaus-designed Top of the Rock Golf Course.

No, I’m certain it came as I stood by the rustic-yet-luxury cabin at Big Cedar Lodge where I was attending the PGA TOUR Champions Bass Pro Legends of Golf. Waiting for a shuttle bus to the resort, I looked up from my mobile phone as a vehicle approached slowly on the narrow roads that wind throughout the property. Expecting it to be my ride, instead I see World Golf Hall of Famer Gary Player peering at me from the passenger seat of an SUV. He tips his hat to me and smiles, a first-class gesture from perhaps the game’s most renowned gentleman.

cavern, cave, golf course, geology, waterfalls

A view from inside the Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail, admission to which comes with your greens fee at Top of the Rock Golf Course.

It’s not easy to pinpoint precisely when I knew I was in a truly unique golf place. But it didn’t take long as one first-of-its-kind experience followed another. Moreover, there are approximately 17,500 courses in North America, but only one place where they’re coming online so fast and so distinctly. The burgeoning golf development in the Branson area features a who’s who of golf legends and course designers, including Tiger Woods, Nicklaus, Player, Tom Fazio and Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.

The geological theme runs through the area golf product, thanks in part to Bass Pro Shops Founder Johnny Morris, who is building many courses as amenities of his Big Cedar Lodge. Mountain Top joins Top of the Rock and Buffalo Ridge Springs Golf Course with geology and conservation inspiration illuminating the Missouri Ozarks’ natural gifts. Buffalo graze adjacent to the latter course, and Top of the Rock sits perched high above the expansive, pristine Table Rock Lake. The course clubhouse includes 150-year-old wood beams transported from a barn in Arnold Palmer’s hometown in Latrobe, Pa. (Palmer designed the mind-boggling all-synthetic-turf driving range, and he and Morris became good friends.)

lake branson big cedar lodge

Top of the Rock Golf Course overlooks Table Rock Lake, and its clubhouse (“Arnie’s Barn”) includes 150-year-old wood beams from a barn in Latrobe, Pa.

Two new courses will open in 2019 and 2020 – Ozarks National and Payne’s Valley – both highly anticipated because the former will be played along with Top of the Rock in the Legends of Golf tourney taking place this week (Friday-Sunday), and the latter is authored by Tiger Woods and his golf architecture firm, TGR Design. It is Woods’ first ever public course – and includes a spectacular 19th hole with remarkable stone outcroppings and waterfalls – bringing to five the number of new courses that will have recently opened in the destination. That’s supersonic speed compared to the turtle’s pace that is post-recession golf course development worldwide.

Designed by Coore and Crenshaw, Ozarks National opens to the public on April 29, a day after of the Legends of Golf concludes. You can be among the first folks ever to see the course by watching Golf Channel’s coverage of the Legends of Golf on Friday through Sunday. If you tune in, you’ll see a course lovingly integrated into Morris’ beloved Ozarks (he hails from nearby Springfield). He’s spent most of his live extolling the area’s natural virtues, and he’s gone to great lengths to preserve and illuminate them.

Golf Course, Big Cedar Golf, Branson, Missouri

Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw’s Ozarks National Golf Course will open to the public on Monday, April 29, one day after the Bass Pro Legends of Golf PGA TOUR Champions event concludes.

If you’re looking for a different kind of place for your next golf trip, you might consider this Ozarks oasis in Southwest Missouri. The grandeur of the setting and the world-class golf courses will astound. But don’t take my word for it. Watch this video clip and image Jim Nance cooing about the grace and beauty of this inimitable golf place.

Big Cedar Lodge’s Mountain Top golf course April 2018 from Bass Pro Shops Video Productions on Vimeo.

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Podcasts

TG2: The Zurich Classic has music? Best golf movie?

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Music at the Zurich? Yes it is the Zurich, the team event where groups get to choose their walk up music. Looks like a bunch of groups picked the same song and we tell you what it is. What is the best and worst golf movie? We break down a couple and Rob tells us how he watched Masters Sunday!

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Podcasts

The Gear Dive: Golf marketing convo with Honma VP John Kawaja

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In this episode of The Gear Dive Johnny sits live with Honma Golf’s John Kawaja to discuss the benefits and challenges of marketing a new company in this fast and furious social media age.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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