The Solheim Cup and FedEx Cup competed for TV time over the weekend in a scheduling blunder
On the face of it, golf fans were spoilt at the weekend. Not only was the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup being hotly contested between Jon Rahm and Patrick Cantlay, but the best female players in Europe were taking on their American counterparts for Solheim Cup ascendancy.
In the UK, both were broadcast live on different channels, which was a nice change from the usual red-button kerfuffle, but it still left most, if not all, having to choose.
The men, playing for $15 million which they absolutely do not need, or the women, playing for pride in a contest that has wowed in recent times?
There is no right or wrong, only simple preference, but surely the two events didn’t have to be played out so simultaneously?
Almost at the exact moment Cantlay won the FedEx Cup, Mel Reid brought the curtain down on day two of the Solheim Cup by clinching a vital half point to give Team Europe a 9-7 lead to take into today’s singles matches.
The former a moment that few but Cantlay’s most ardent fans and inner circle could realistically get amped for; the latter a potential turning point that silenced a packed gallery at the Inverness Club and had Europeans jumping for joy on the sidelines and in homes throughout the continent and beyond.
It’s no secret that the men’s game takes precedence in just about every way possible when it comes to golf – events, TV time, prize money, sponsorship opportunities, the list goes on – so for one week every two years, is it too much to ask to give the women’s game, and moments like this, the well-deserved spotlight?
After all, it’s not as if the Solheim Cup is a damp squib. That distinction better applies to the Ryder Cup of late in all honesty. And the hoopla surrounding that event this year could prove unbearable.
Sadly, with the men’s schedule the way it is now – the 2021/22 PGA Tour season starts in just 10 days – it’s definitely not the last we’ve seen of such lopsided priorities within the professional game.
And although there are more week-to-week gaps on the European Tour, it’s asking a lot of viewers, the majority of which will still want to tune in to the PGA Tour, to watch 20+ hours of golf while also having a life.
There was, however, a positive to come from this, one which will hopefully bring about some sort of change, big or small. A brief foray into the world of ‘Golf Twitter’ yesterday revealed just how many people were engrossed in the match play madness.
That has also been backed up by an ongoing Golf Monthly poll. From almost 1,000 people, just over 50 per cent have said they opted to exclusively watch the Solheim Cup on Sunday, with a further 19 per cent voting that they attempted to keep on top of both.
Scratching just beneath the surface, such a result is hardly surprising. When those vying for the $15m FedEx Cup pay-out aren’t even that bothered about what’s on the line and don’t like the contrived format, is it little wonder fans feel the same?
On the flipside, the best of the women’s game continue to showcase everything great about golf: immense skill, authentic passion and drama by the bucket load.
One day, I’ve no doubt golf’s gender gap will start to close, but for now, it’s another example of the game getting it horribly, horribly wrong.