The 2020 Ryder Cup is currently set for the weekend of Sept. 25 at Whistling Straits Golf Course in Wisconsin. This event is held every two years between a team of golfers from The United States going against European pros. With the event alternating from the US and Europe, this is the year the US was ready to host the exciting event.
However, the coronavirus has put plenty of events off schedule. But the PGA has announced they will be one of the first sports to return to action, in plenty of time before the Ryder Cup. But members of the PGA are starting to realize the impact of the fans in this tournament.
The best-case scenario is for fans to be at every golf event, but some can happen without. But the Ryder is a little different. The fans make up the “home-field advantage” in the Ryder Cup like no other event on the Tour.
In a radio interview on WFAN in New York, Waugh acknowledged that “fans are the Ryder Cup, to a certain degree,” and that it’s “hard to imagine one without fans,” but the idea is nonetheless being explored due to the coronavirus pandemic.
One of the best ways this tournament differs from others is from the energy that the fans create. With golfers teaming up, they are more emotional in play than they usually are.
Most golf fans of any age can give examples of one of their favorite moments from a Ryder Cup. But what would that moment be without the fans?
Waugh discussed the idea of getting fans involved in the radio interview. “We have begun to talk about whether you could create some virtual fan experience, and we’re going to try to be as creative as we can. It’s to be determined, frankly, whether you could hold it without fans or not.”
Players Want Fans
Several players that would be participating are starting to speak out in opposition to playing the tournament without fans.
“A Ryder Cup without fans, it’s not a Ryder Cup,” McIlroy said in an Instagram live session with TaylorMade Golf. “For me, I’d much rather they delay it until 2021 than play it at Whistling Straits without fans.
Tommy Fleetwood also spoke out and discussed the emotional difference the play would be without fans. He pointed out the pressure that they have with sixty to seventy thousand people watching on as they try to sink a putt. Without that, maybe the Ryder Cup is just another tournament.
The Ryder Cup can be postponed, but that creates some challenges as well. The Presidents Cup is scheduled for September in 2021, so that would have to be rescheduled as well.
Both of these events have a large financial impact on the PGA of America and the European Tour. With the match play and format being so interesting, it also has an effect on sports gambling operators.
The PGA needs to salvage the Ryder Cup and give this content to fans, but not at the expense of ruining the atmosphere.