With home advantage becoming more and more influential, should the event be held at neutral venues?
Should The Ryder Cup Be At A Neutral Venue?
The concern in some quarters is that home advantage has become too important in the Ryder Cup (opens in new tab).
It used not to be this way. Europe replaced GB and Ireland as America’s opponents in 1979 and, from then until 1995, the home team won five of the contests; the away team four.
But since 1995 the away team has won only twice — Europe in 2004 and 2012. The United States last won in Europe in 1983. That year a side captained by Tom Watson won 15 to 13 at The Belfry.
“It’s becoming tougher to win on the road,” agrees Rory McIlroy (opens in new tab), “as it becomes more partisan. You are not just playing the other team, you are playing the fans. I do think there is such a thing as home advantage. Most other sports have that, so there is no reason that shouldn’t happen in the Ryder Cup.”
Related: Future Ryder Cup Venues (opens in new tab)
Should the Ryder Cup be at a neutral venue then? Well, there are practical problems to this. Prime among them is choosing somewhere suitable which the fans of America and Europe could, and would, go to in large numbers. It is the partisan crowds that create a large part of the Ryder Cup magic, and almost all of its atmosphere.
For example, Royal Melbourne (opens in new tab) has thrice hosted the Presidents Cup and drawn huge crowds. But would Australian golf fans turn out in a large numbers for a Ryder Cup when they have no connection to either team?
It takes almost a day’s flying time to get to Australia from Europe or America. So you could not expect a huge contingent of American or European golf fans to make the journey there.
Related: Should The Ryder Cup Return To A Links Course? (opens in new tab)
Possible Neutral Ryder Cup Venues
Below we have listed some possible venues off the top of our heads, but we would be fascinated to read some of your suggestions too.
- Sheshan International
- Gary Player CC
- Golf Club de Chapultepec
- Emirates GC
- Abu Dhabi GC
- Royal Greens Golf and Country Club
- Leopard Creek
- Kasumigaseki Country Club
- Cabot Cliffs
- Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club
A better solution, if the pattern of home wins becomes too entrenched, is to change the way the Ryder Cup course is set up for the match.
At present the home team can dictate how the course is prepared. Understandably they use this to favour their style of play and hinder that of their opponents.
Having a neutral committee setting up the course instead would be a simpler way to diminish home advantage than moving the contest to a neutral venue.
Contributing Writer Golf courses and travel are Roderick’s particular interests and he was contributing editor for the first few years of the Golf Monthly Travel Supplement. He writes travel articles and general features for the magazine, travel supplement and website. He also compiles the magazine's crossword. He is a member of Trevose Golf & Country Club and has played golf in around two dozen countries. Cricket is his other main sporting love. He is the author of five books, four of which are still in print: The Novel Life of PG Wodehouse; The Don: Beyond Boundaries; Wally Hammond: Gentleman & Player and England’s Greatest Post-War All Rounder.
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