In his weekly Limerick Leader golf column, Ivan Morris looks at the battle between the Ryder Cup captains.
Long before the makeup of the two teams is finalized, Paul McGinley already knows his toughest opponent at Gleneagles in the Ryder Cup Matches in September.
It will be his opposing captain, Tom Watson. Indeed, if the captains had to play my money would be on the 64-years old, Watson, to come out on top.
This weekend’s Open Championship will help to clarify the personnel that will make up the two teams but we can take it that Stenson, Dubuisson, Donaldson, Bjorn, Garcia, Rose, Kaymer and McIlroy are already ‘certs’ for Europe, which leaves only four places to be filled.
Half the USA side is still unknown. Bubba Watson, Jimmy Walker, Dustin Johnson, Kuchar, Speith and Furyk appear ‘settled’, which won’t fill McGinley with terror even if Tom Watson might!
As the respective qualifying campaigns intensify and the final, line-ups take shape it’s going to be fascinating for observers.
Jobs In Golf Administration
While keeping up to date with the two, US Opens at Pinehurst No. 2, I checked out the USGA website where I snatched a glimpse into why the administration of golf at the highest levels has lost its focus and is one of many reasons for the falling interest in the game.
Golf administration is becoming like the political arena - where well-paid jobs are created at the drop of a hat with committees for this and committees for that - not to mention well-paid advisers and consultants with ordinary golfers paying for it all.
How about this for an impressive collection of high-powered jobs on offer at the supposedly ‘volunteer/amateur’ United States Golf Association? Actually, it’s only about half of them. Royalties Manager for Branded and Special Events; Director of Media Planning (probably something to do with keeping up to date with digital technology); Executive Assistant
- USGA Welcome Ambassador (That’s a “Hello, would you like a cup of coffee” - job!); Director - People Development (because everybody could do with bit of ‘development and direction’.) Manager - Compensation and Rewards (if you are going to employ a lot of people you must somebody in charge of what concerns them most); Manager - Internal Community and Communications (so they can all know each other’s email addresses?) Director - Applications and
IT Analyst (to keep all of the computers in top shape and ‘talking’ to each other?)
Agronomist - Mid-Continent Region (what would any self-respecting USGA agronomist be doing so far away from HQ?); Coordinator - Handicap & Course Rating (What? A job that requires some real golf knowledge!); Assistant Manager - US Open (no manager operates without assistants to do the work while he attends all of those important meetings; Merchandising
Director; Assistant Manager -
Media Relations; Assistant Director - Partnerships (another “Hello, job?)
I had no idea that the USGA was such a bloated mess. The PGA, R & A and GUI all seem headed in the same direction - but where is it leading?
Instead of looking at the way the game is played and how expensive and slow it has become this is the type of nonsense that our poll taxes are funding.
I am reminded of the character of the famous, sportswriter O.B. Keeler in an enjoyable movie I saw about the life of the legendary Bob Jones, who exclaimed: “Money is going to (eventually) ruin all sports”.
It’s alarming that a game that grew exponentially during most of my lifetime has now gone into a steady decline in the countries where it was once strongest.
The way things are progressing golf may not be around for my great-grandchildren to enjoy. And there is no more salutary lesson than the shocking revelation by Jack Nicklaus that from among his 22 grandchildren, only one of them plays golf more than ‘a little bit.’
Jack is as involved with his grandkids as any grandfather and he nails it when he says: “Golf is being out-organized by other activities and sports.” Legislators charged with protecting the ethos of the game are too interested in creating empires that give them a soft job for life instead of looking after what is the most important thing - the game and the way it is played.
All of these administrators, financial, legal, merchandizing and marketing professionals know little about golf. They have no idea what makes golf tick. In spite of many grow-the-game initiatives, golf has suffered a sharp decline of 5% year-to-year, which has now taken it all the way back to pre-1990 levels.
The largest decline is among men between 25-54 - a ticking bomb, timed to explode 20-years from now. Our parents left us a wonderful game for a lifetime but what are we handing on to the next generation?