Keegan Bradley Is The Ryder Cup Captain. Does it Matter?

Keegan Bradley Is The Ryder Cup Captain. Does it Matter?

The golf world is abuzz today with the news that Keegan Bradley has been selected to Captain the 2025 US Ryder Cup Team.

To say that opinions are divided is an understatement.

On the one hand, Bradley has a Major, six PGA TOUR wins, and a 4-3-0 record in Ryder Cup competition. He grew up in a PGA of America family (the PGA of America, after all, runs the American side of the Ryder Cup). His father is the head pro at Jakson Hole. His aunt is World Golf Hall of Famer Pat Bradley.

His most important attribute, however, may be that he cares. This is the guy who vowed to never open his 2012 Ryder Cup suitcase until he won a Ryder Cup.

On the other hand, to many, he seems … undistinguished. At 38, he is young for a Ryder Cup captain (the youngest since Arnold Palmer in 1963). He was infamously left off the last Ryder Cup team, which may or may not speak to his popularity among the players.

Could Bradley — like Palmer — end up as a Player-Captain?

The biggest question, however, is one that no one seems to be asking: Does it even matter?

A few years back, I reviewed a book called The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport’s Great Leadership Delusion. In that book, sports and business writer Richard Gillis argued — somewhat convincingly — that the Captain doesn’t matter very much in the outcome of the competitions.

The reason we pay so much attention the captains, Gillis says, is that they serve as a convenient narrative point. It is much easier for the media to tell (and for fans to read) a story about the Captain’s leadership than about rubs of the green, statistical variances and other things that aren’t really in anyone’s control.

I’ll argue it’s the same reason we laud or condemn a President for economic conditions. It’s easier to talk about a single man than 435 members of Congress, the Federal Reserve, international banking systems, capital accumulation, supply and demand of basic resources, infrastructure, labor markets, human capital and the bazillion other things — measurable and unmeasurable, known and unknown — that drive economic conditions.

The focus on the Captain also reminds me of one of the reasons so many believe in conspiracy theories: that it is easier to believe that someone — or a group of someones — is responsible for outcomes than to believe that it may all just be due to random chance.

So I’ll say it again: Keegan Bradley is the Ryder Cup Captain. Does it matter?

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