'It Would Be Devastating' If Ryder Cup Captaincy Taken Away - Ian Poulter

The Englishman opens up about his Ryder Cup fears in the third episode of Netflix series Full Swing

Ian Poulter takes a shot at the 2023 Dubai Desert Classic
Ian Poulter faces a career-altering decision in episode three of Full Swing
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When Ian Poulter was unveiled as one of LIV Golf’s first intake of signings, the news didn’t come as a huge surprise because he had been rumoured to be joining the start-up for some time beforehand.

What we weren’t aware of before Netflix series Full Swing was released were the considerations Poulter needed to wrestle with before finally signing on the dotted line, most notably the Ryder Cup legend's future in the tournament. 

The episode title, Money or Legacy, couldn’t be more apt. Here was a player with a proud history on the biennial tournament and the PGA Tour struggling to keep up with stars decades younger than him as he edged closer to 50. Not only that, but a big-money alternative to the PGA Tour was on the horizon,

As well as fewer tournaments and a shorter format, another telling difference between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour is the guaranteed money. So, as well as players receiving fees to join the circuit, there is also a payday whenever a player competes, even if they finish in 48th and last place. That’s not the case on the PGA Tour, where players who miss the cut go unpaid. 

Those considerations are something Poulter explained were a big factor in the decision-making process, saying: "The fact of there being guaranteed money at play is obviously an attraction.”

But what about the $28m+ Poulter has earned on the PGA Tour, despite the uncertainty of payment? Poulter explained that’s not the whole story. He said: “People ask all the time 'don't you have enough already?' but that's all relative. I treat my golf as a job and I obviously want to maximise every bit of my potential over the coming years. I'm 46 years old, I'm not getting any younger.”

Poulter was reportedly offered a figure that eclipsed those career PGA Tour earnings - $30m - to sign for LIV Golf, but it’s clear in the episode that, even though he wants to earn as much as he can, there were other things to consider, not least his chances of one day captaining Team Europe in the Ryder Cup.

He said: "There's so many deciding factors in all of this. I love the Ryder Cup and if one day I get the opportunity to become Ryder Cup captain I would absolutely love it. If you do play for LIV, would it be a factor in not being able to be a captain down the road? It would be devastating if it was taken away, that would be really disappointing.”

The future of LIV Golf players in the Ryder Cup has yet to be determined, although there are signs it may be a good idea for the likes of Poulter not to get their hopes up. For one, Henrik Stenson, who had been named Ryder Cup captain, was stripped of the honour when he joined LIV Golf. Then Luke Donald, who replaced him, hinted LIV Golf stars’ Ryder Cup days could be over.

While Poulter was one of the first to sign for LIV Golf, it's clear in the episode that the the decision wasn’t made without considering plenty of factors. In the battle between money or legacy, money ultimately won, but there’s little doubt Poulter’s well aware it could come with considerable sacrifice in the future.

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.