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Does the Ryder Cup mean more to Europeans than majors?

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“For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.”

British author Rudyard Kipling wrote these words, poetically expressing how an individual can make a group stronger or weaker, while the group as a whole has the same power over the individual. It is a concept that the European Ryder Cup side has always been acutely aware of, and amid the messy public fallout that rumbles on in the United States’ camp, it’s evident that it’s a philosophy lost on the U.S. side.

The musings of Kipling do not fall on deaf ears when it comes to the supporters of the U.S. side, whose frustration and anger at the lack of unity amongst its team of superstars has begun to boil over. As the lack of harmony of the U.S. group continues to perplex people, the collectiveness of the European team continues to grow. As every Ryder Cup passes, the symmetry of each group advances in opposite directions, and the reason behind the contrast in unity becomes harder to pin down.

Europe’s Ryder Cup members come from different parts of the continent, Spain, Scandinavia, Italy, the UK and Ireland. Despite the relatively small size of the continent, the cultures of each country are extremely diverse. While Ian Poulter and Tommy Fleetwood dig into their fish and chips and wash it down with a pint of beer, the likes of Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia are more likely to be enjoying their tapas and a glass of Rioja. So just how has this culturally diverse group shown the type of spirit that the U.S. side could only dream of possessing?

Slaying the dragon

Much of the motivation and importance that Europe has always shown in the Ryder Cup comes down to their opponents. The leaders of the free world, the powerhouse that is the United States of America. Long gone are the days that the U.S. would utterly dominate the Ryder Cup. Europe is now the dominant force, winning seven of the last nine editions of the event. Despite that fact, Europe will always feel like an underdog in the match-up, and the tag of favoritism can be a hefty burden to bear.

Europe continuously considering themselves as underdogs has no doubt helped to banish any sense of complacency. From the dominance of both U.S. politics and culture on the rest of the world, there has always been a special pride and sense of achievement for those outside of the U.S. in downing the sporting superstars from the land of milk and honey. This motivation only heightens when it’s at a sport where the U.S. has been so dominant throughout history, such as they have in golf. It’s an embedded mindset that both the European team and supporters possess year on year, while it seems likely that the U.S. Ryder Cup side is more susceptible to complacency, and perhaps, motivated more by defeat.

More on the mindset

The attention for the twelve members of the defeated U.S. side will now turn to the new PGA Tour season, where they will be hoping for major championship triumphs, FedEx Cup success and even qualification for the Presidents Cup. It may be two years away, but much of the motivation for the European players will be to make the next Ryder Cup side and to keep that trophy in Europe until 2022 at the very least.

Francesco Molinari won the Open Championship earlier this year, which was his first ever taste of major championship glory. Years of sweat and perseverance culminating in the most memorable moment of his career, right? Not according to Francesco, who described this year’s Ryder Cup victory with his teammates as a far more significant achievement than his Open Championship success:

“It means so much. So much more than majors, more than anything… It’s been an incredible week. It’s about the group. It’s incredible. It is the best feeling I have ever had in golf.”

Legacy

In the United States, Colin Montgomerie will be synonymous with his failure at major championships, but in Europe he’ll often be regarded as a Ryder Cup legend, taking 23.5 points from just 36 matches played in his career at the event. Sergio Garcia was considered to be the quintessential nearly man who lacked nerve according to the U.S. media before his victory at Augusta, yet across the pond; he was the fearless matador in the Ryder Cup arena. While Seve Ballesteros’ legendary performances in the Ryder Cup both as a player and as a captain, as well as his performances in majors it must be said, have many Europeans claiming he was up there with the best of all time.

There is a mystical power that the Ryder Cup possesses in Europe. In a video played to the European side on the eve of the 2018 event, an emotional Jose Maria Olazabal states:

“Seve showed me, there are times where you need to reach into the depths of your soul to get you through.”

Is the U.S. side willing to dig as deep as their European counterparts for their teammates and their country? Recent history suggests not.

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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at gmagliocco@outlook.com. Follow him on Twitter @giancarlomag

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. rollbahn

    Oct 4, 2018 at 6:44 pm

    “….special pride and sense of achievement for those outside of the U.S. in downing the sporting superstars from the land of milk and honey”

    The issue of course is that most of us outside the US (that don’t live in poor or oppressed countries) don’t think that at all. I think that is what the Americans think of themselves and perhaps where they get themselves into trouble.

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Opinion & Analysis

A different perspective

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A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to play a round with two of the greens keepers at a local golf course and it was a fascinating experience. It gave me a chance to get a behind-the-scenes view of what it takes to make a golf course great.

Many of us play at public courses, and sometimes its luck of the draw if the course we are at is in good condition. In my case, if I find a course that is well maintained and taken care of, I make it a regular stop. In this case, I was at Ridgeview Ranch in Plano Texas and it is a great public course and I play here at least once a month.

The two guys I played with were Tony Arellano and Jose Marguez. Both were great guys to share a round with. Tony shared what it’s like to make sure that all the greens are maintained properly and watered correctly. He showed me where there were some issues with one of the greens that I would never have noticed. We talked about how the invasion of Poa annua grass forces his guys to pull it out by hand with a tool that is smaller than a divot repair tool. It became clear to me that as a golf community, we need to lift up the people that do this labor-intensive work and thank them for all they do. Ridgeview Ranch is without a doubt one of the better public courses in my area, and it is because of the hard work these men do that keeps it this way.

As we watched the Masters tournament a few weeks ago we were awestruck by the awesome beauty of Augusta National and in my case I believe that is what heaven looks like. I think we take that kind of beauty for granted and forget the massive amount of time and hard work that go into making a golf course look good. These people have to deal with all of the different factors that Mother Nature throws at them and be prepared for anything. In addition to that, they also have to make sure the watering system is maintained as well as all of their equipment.

I have played at other courses in the DFW area that have a terrible staff and a superintendent that either don’t care about the course or don’t know how to stop it from falling apart. The course won’t spend the money to go get the right people that will take pride in their work. Some of these places will charge you more than $80 per round, and when you get to the first green that has dry spots that are without any grass you feel like you have been ripped off.

We all love this game not because it’s easy but because it’s a challenge and being good at it takes a ton of effort. We also love it because it gives us a chance to hang out with friends and family and enjoy time outside in the sun– hopefully without cell phone interruptions and other distractions of our modern day. We spend a ton of money on green fees, equipment and sometimes travel. We want to get what we pay for and we want to have a great course to spend the day at.

I wanted to write this article to thank all of those men and women that start work in the early hours of the day and work through the hottest stretches of the summer to keep our golf courses in great shape. They are people that never get the credit they deserve and we should always thank them whenever possible. Tony and Jose are just two examples of the people who work so hard for all of us. Ridgeview Ranch is lucky to have these two men who not only work hard but were fantastic representatives of their course. So next time you are out there and you see these people working hard, maybe stop and say thank you let them know what they do really makes a difference.

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5 most common golf injuries (and how to deal with them)

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You might not think about golf as a physically intensive game, but that doesn’t change the fact it is still a sport. And as with every sport, there’s a possibility you’ll sustain an injury while playing golf. Here’s a list of the five most common injuries you might sustain when playing the game, along with tips on how to deal with them in the best way possible so you heal quickly.

Sunburn

While not directly an injury, it’s paramount to talk about sunburns when talking about golf. A typical golf game is played outside in the open field, and it lasts for around four hours. This makes it extremely likely you’ll get sunburnt, especially if your skin is susceptible to it.

That’s why you should be quite careful when you play golf

Apply sunscreen every hour – since you’re moving around quite a lot on a golf course, sunscreen won’t last as long as it normally does.

Wear a golf hat – aside from making you look like a professional, the hat will provide additional protection for your face.

If you’re extra sensitive to the sun, you should check the weather and plan games when the weather is overcast.

Rotator Cuff Injury

A rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that surround the shoulder joint. This group are the main muscles responsible for swing movements in your arms. It’s no surprise then that in golf, where the main activity consists of swinging your arms, there’s a real chance this muscle group might sustain an injury.

To avoid injuries to this group, it’s imperative you practice the correct form of swinging the club. Before playing, you should also consider some stretching.

If you get an injury, however, you can recover faster by following RICE:

Rest: resting is extremely important for recovery. After an injury, the muscles are extremely vulnerable to further injury, and that’s why you should immediately stop playing and try to get some rest.

Ice: applying ice to the injured area during the first day or two can help. It reduces inflammation and relaxes the muscles.

Compress: bandage the rotator cuff group muscle and compress the muscles. This speeds up the muscle healing process.

Elevate: elevate the muscles above your heart to help achieve better circulation of blood and minimize fluids from gathering.

Wrist Injuries

Wrist tendons can sustain injuries when playing golf. Especially if you enjoy playing with a heavy club, it can put some strain on the wrist and cause wrist tendonitis, which is characterized by inflammation and irritation.

You should start by putting your wrist in a splint or a cast – it is necessary to immobilize your wrist to facilitate healing.

Anti-inflammatory medicine can relieve some of the pain and swelling you’ll have to deal with during the healing process. While it might not help your wrist heal much quicker, it’ll increase your comfort.

A professional hand therapist knows about the complexities of the wrist and the hand and can help you heal quicker by inspecting and treating your hands.

Back Pain

A golf game is long, sometimes taking up to 6 hours. This long a period of standing upright, walking, swinging clubs, etc. can put stress on your back, especially in people who aren’t used to a lot of physical activities:

If you feel like you’re not up for it, you should take a break mid-game and then continue after a decent rest. A golf game doesn’t have any particular time constraints, so it should be simple to agree to a short break.

If you don’t, consider renting a golf cart, it makes movement much easier. If that’s not possible, you can always buy a pushcart, which you can easily store all the equipment in. Take a look at golf push cart reviews to know which of them best suits your needs.

Better posture – a good posture distributes physical strain throughout your body and not only on your back, which means a good posture will prevent back pain and help you deal with it better during a game.

Golfer’s Elbow

Medically known as medial epicondylitis, golfer’s elbow occurs due to strain on the tendons connecting the elbow and forearm. It can also occur if you overuse and over-exhaust the muscles in your forearm that allow you to grip and rotate your arm:

A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug is the way to go to alleviate the most severe symptoms of the injury at the beginning.

Lift the club properly, and if you think there’s a mismatch between your wrist and the weight of the club, you should get a lighter one.

Learn when you’ve reached your limit. Don’t overexert yourself – when you know your elbow is starting to cause you problems, take a short break!

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TG2: Our PGA picks were spot on…and Rob hit a school bus with a golf ball

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Rob picked Brooks to win the PGA and hit the nail on the head, while Knudson’s DJ pick was pretty close. Rob hit a school bus with a golf ball and we talk about some new clubs that are going to be tested in the next couple days.

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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