We Drank 72 Bottles Of Wine By Saturday Night - McGinley On Ryder Cup Drinking

Paul McGinley says Europe's 2004 record Ryder Cup victory was powered by a real thirst in the team room as they ran out of wine by Saturday night

Paul McGinley at the 2004 Ryder Cup
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Paul McGinley says the 2004 European Ryder Cup side that inflicted a record defeat on the Americans was fuelled by a generous helping of alcohol during the event at Oakland Hills.

McGinley was answering the question of whether professional golf today is as fun as it was during his time - with his thoughts being much more money and much less alcohol has somewhat taken some of the joy out of the game.

Comradery is something that McGinley feels is lacking from today's game, due to players travelling and staying separately due to having more money - but he says they're also more serious during events.

“Is golf as fun as it was 15 years ago? I think they’re making three times the money we were making,” McGinley said on Golf Channel's Golf Today show. 

“But the comradery we had in the game back then - and maybe it’s because we weren’t playing for as much money as they are now and we weren’t flying around everywhere in our private jets and there wasn’t 50 Netjets sitting at the airport to take players home every night.”

Europe's 2004 record Ryder Cup victory

Golf today is a serious business but McGinley still says he was taken aback during his stint as 2014 Ryder Cup captain at how serious his team took things off the course while the event was ongoing at Gleneagles.

"I was amazed when I was [Ryder Cup] captain in 2014, nobody drank. I mean, nobody,” McGinley added. “I wasn't like, 'It's a Ryder Cup I'm not going to drink.' It was a case of, 'No, I'm not drinking, I don't drink when I play. It's not even a question."

Just a decade earlier, and the European team drank the bar dry at Oakland Hills even before the Sunday singles had taken place - with McGinley saying the staff had to re-stock the wine cellar by Saturday night.

“Back in our day, there was quite a bit of alcohol consumed, it’s fair to say, even during Ryder Cups," McGinley added.

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“When we won by a record margin in Oakland Hills under Bernhard Langer, I remember one of the backroom staff coming out and telling us - on the Saturday night, so this is before the Sunday - that we had drank 72 bottles of wine already, and that they had to go and re-up the order. This is when matches were still on.

"It's not like we were getting drunk every night - far from it. But everyone would have had one, two, maybe three glasses of wine at night and it was normal. And nine, 10 out of the 12 players would do that.

"Obviously, it’s a changed atmosphere now on the course. When there’s alcohol involved, as you well know, there’s always a bit more craic involved.”

That team spirit obviously did the trick back in McGinley's day, as that 2004 team hammered America 18.5-9.5, representing the heaviest defeat for the USA since the event started in 1927.

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.