The King and the Cup
As of this week’s writing, the Shenandoah University Hornets are coming off their bye week and preparing to open ODAC play against Randolph Macon on what should be a rainy Friday night at Shentel. With the bye week, I wanted to concentrate on two things this week from the world of golf: the passing of Arnold Palmer, and the 41st Ryder Cup.
“Arnie”, as he was known to his legion of fans, is the reason most of us who play golf were drawn to the game. He came from blue collar Western Pennsylvania roots, and was golf’s “everyman”. He brought the sport from the country-club to the common man, and it was his daring, swashbuckling style than endeared him to millions of fans. Arnold Palmer could just as easily lose an 8-stroke lead on a Sunday as he could charge from behind to win.
It was that style that helped bring golf into the TV age in the early 60s. Arnold Palmer simply was golf. By the time I started caring about golf, he was past his prime, as Nicklaus took center stage. But anyone who played and plays the game certainly recognize the iconic nature of the man.
The thing that is being mentioned more than any other thing this week, though, is how Arnold Palmer treated his fellow man. He signed every autograph, made a point to say hello to everyone from the lowest clubhouse assistant to highest-ranking official. He lived the Golden Rule, and that transcends golf. This week we lift high the drink that bears his name (half tea-half lemonade) to the man we all know as “Arnie”.
Hopefully, the spirit of Arnold Palmer will prevail at the 41st Ryder Cup at Hazeltine in Minnesota this weekend. The Ryder Cup pits a team of 12 US golfers against 12 from Europe, with competition held every other year. The Ryder Cup has been dominated in recent years bu the European team, who have won 8 of the last 10. This has become such an issue with the US, that they have appointed a “Task Force” to look into the matter (this has become the butt of a lot of jokes from the golf community).
Maybe playing better golf is the answer. The US seems to feel the pressure of the Ryder Cup more than the Europeans, especially down the stretch on Sundays. Europe just seems to have more fun, while the Americans seem tight.
Thank goodness the rhetoric has been mild this week between captains Darren Clarke of Europe and Davis Love III of the US. In recent Ryder Cups, the behavior by both teams has bordered on unsportsmanlike, from Patrick Reed’s “shushing” of the European crowd, to Ian Poulter’s maniacal gestures. Hopefully, we can get away from the “War on the Shore” mentality from Kiawah 1991.
That being said, I love the Ryder Cup. It is high-drama, especially on Sunday afternoon. May both teams embrace the spirit of golf left behind by “The King” Arnold Palmer…
That’s it from The Booth! Until next week,