Date: October 02, 2012
Author: Luke Elvy / Golf Australia

Luke Elvy blog: the lessons from magical Medinah

Sometimes words don t seem enough. Honestly, I tried astonishing, epic and herculean got a run but even they don t quite sum up the magnitude of Europe s remarkable Ryder Cup victory. There were so many exceptional moments 1) Ian Poulter s lion-hearted play all three days, especially those five-straight birdies to close out Day 2. He’s the new Seve . 2) Nicolas Colsaerts terrific opening day display when he single-handedly carried the team when he shot the lights out. The Belgian was on debut 3) Justin Rose s brilliant finish to snatch a crucial point off Phil Mickelson in the singles. The crucial point But they are just a snippet from the Miracle at Medinah, which will be celebrated as one of golf’s great wins long after we re all gone such was the enormity of the comeback. Simply, it was sports theatre at its best, unscripted, passionate and full of brilliance. And while I m sure we were all captivated by the drama, part of me felt gutted. Not for Team USA, which blew its largest lead in Cup history and not for veterans Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods who succumbed to the intense pressure- they ll get over it, eventually. I feel for the fans that have been robbed of watching more of this kind of magic. Team match play is when golf really shines. The game s two governing Bodies (R&A and USGA) decision not have this format showcased when golf returns at the 2016 Rio Olympics is bewildering. How can a 72-hole stroke-play tournament possibly conjure up the kind of excitement we just witnessed? It doesn’t, it can t. The recently completed FedEx Cup playoffs didn t even come close and they had $10 million on the line! In the US, the Ryder Cup s final day on NBC out-rated the behemoth that is the NFL by more than double and that never happens. Golf Channel s Morning Drive host Gary Williams tweeted Every two years golf lands a clean punch on the chin of the NFL. Why? Because world class sport at its purest, grabs attention. In the over-saturated market of sports, the need to evolve to stay competitive is paramount. We ve seen it in our own backyard as AFL and NRL dominate while sports like tennis, basketball and golf fight for survival. Cricket has enjoyed the Twenty20 revolution, Rugby, the very popular 7s concept, anything to stay relevant but it s frustrating that golf sticks with the often mundane 4-rounds of stroke-play and unfortunately it s struggling to rate. The PGA Tour has just completed one of its best seasons in recent memory but the TV ratings didn t compare the numbers CBS & NBC pulled when Tiger was in its prime. Sometimes one man can be bigger than the sport and in my opinion, its time to make a change. Fast-forward to Rio 2016 60 male and female golfers will tee it up for the honour of claiming Olympic gold. 15-20 of those players will be not capable of winning through being outclassed, that s a third of the field. Say it turns out like many events where a few players spread themselves from the rest heading into the final round. That s the medals decided, they re just fighting over what colour. The other 57 in the tournament will simply go through the motions, as they can neither win any money or medals. Talk about dialling it in! But what if teams of say four were fighting it out, in match play style, for both the Gold and Bronze medal playoffs? You d have 16 players able to make a difference on that final day and you d get more moments like the Ryder Cup where heroic plays or gut-wrenching collapses are likely to happen more often. Plus it doesn’t place an emphasis on scoring as some holes could be won with a 25 footer for bogey but all you d see is a long putt rolled in with a fist pump. Isn t that when golf is most fun? To steal a line from Sam Kekovich you know it makes sense! The Olympics are a celebration of sport and golf’s audience would be bigger than ever so why not have our best form of the game on show to the world? Isn t golf trying to attract new players? Why does this seem so obvious? Honestly, it s doing my head in can someone please get me the R&A s Chief Executive Peter Dawson on the phone! There s still oodles of time to make this right and architect Gil Hanse hasn t even started to build the course yet! If the past three days of competition at Medinah have taught us anything, it s that Governing Bodies need to work out other ways to have golf like that played more often. Simple as that By the way, it s exactly a year until the Presidents Cup begins at Muirfield Village in Ohio. It’s not quite like the Ryder Cup (yet) but it certainly beats the FedEx Cup. Luke Elvy recently returned from the United States covering the PGA Tour. He will host the Australian PGA Championship coverage for ONE HD in December and writes exclusively for Golf Australia. His views do not necessarily represent those of Golf Australia. Follow him on Twitter – @elvisgolf