Every two years, the Ryder Cup requires the golf world to set aside their individualistic tendencies and play the game as a team for a few days. National and continental pride are engaged and huge crowds dressed in colorful costumes chant and cheer. It doesn’t take long for you to feel the difference between a PGA event and a Ryder Cup. At the first tee, on the first day, you don’t hear the ubiquitous yells of, “you da man”, or “it’s in the hole”. Instead it’s a raucous shout of USA, USA, USA, or ole ole ole.
For as long as I can remember, high school golf has been played in the medal play format. It makes sense. Golf is billed as an individual activity that can be played for a lifetime. I happen to be one of those people who started when I was young and it’s the predominant sport of my adult life. Both of my boys played high school golf and it taught them many things that will be useful as adults. That doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be improved, and I think the Ryder Cup provides the clues to improvement.
Here are my reasons:
- More kids could play – When my kids were on the team, 5 played varsity and 3 scored. In the new format, on a 9 hole course, you would shotgun start 4 singles (2 per team) on 1 hole. 4 pairs of better ball on 4 holes. And 4 foursome matches on 4 holes. That’s 18 golfers that could be playing at the same time.
- Sportsmanship improves – There’s already more sportsmanship in golf than in other sports, but I don’t think there is anything more classy than the conceded putt. It shows you respect the other golfer’s ability and it keeps the play moving at a brisk pace.
- It engages the kids – What I’ve seen happen in event after event at the high school level is a clubhouse full of kids that have finished their round, eating snacks, drinking soda, and messing around while coached hunch over laptops with spreadsheets figuring out the scores. This process takes an eternity with the end result being a 2 minute announcement of which team won and who (1 kid) got the medal. With the simplified scoring of a Ryder Cup format, kids would know the score and they would be at the close holes cheering for the point that might decide the match.
There are probably more reasons, but those are the most apparent to me. It allows for keeping medal play for big weekend tournaments with several schools present. I don’t know. Just thinkin’.