Throwing My Hat In Ring To Be Ryder Cup Captain

I think it is time for the PGA to think completely out-of-the-box and name me Ryder Cup Captain effective immediately.

The worst I can possibly do is lose, a result eight of the last ten US Captains have also managed to achieve. I think I’ve got a formula for success, however.

  • First, I’d like to answer the question of what I know about planning and managing. For that, I fall back on twenty years of teaching experience. Every day, I manage the progress, goals, expectations and personalities of a hundred and eighty teens. In my head, I can keep track of where each one is, and where he or she needs to go to achieve the required goals. I know their strengths and weaknesses and how to exploit them. I motivate the unmotivated, discipline the unruly, enlighten the unwilling, console the inconsolable, counsel the confused, resolve conflicts between deadly enemies, and do more with less each passing year. Studies have shown that teachers make 1,500 educational decisions every day, the vast majority of which are unpredictable and unplanned. That’s more than four per minute in an average school day. Surely I can manage twelve talented and highly motivated adults.

  • I would spend the next two years meeting with every potential player to ask for their input. My strength as a Captain is that I am smart enough to know that I don’t have the answers. Former players—as “experts” would never admit to such. As a teacher, however, I have the ability to listen, synthesize, evaluate and compromise.

  • I’d have to take a sabbatical, and the PGA would have to give me a salary (although what a teacher makes is pocket change for the PGA), but I would dedicate the entire two years to the project. I obviously would not be distracted by my own playing career.

  • I’ve also got a pretty sound background in psychology. I understand motivation. If I can motivate teenagers to care about micro economics, I can motivate anyone.

  • I would ask for more Captain’s picks and the ability to delay those picks until after the FedEx Cup finishes. Points are a fair system, but a Captain needs to be able to go with the hot hand. Golf is a streaky game and a player who racked up points early in the season is not necessarily the best choice late.

  • For Vice Captains, I would hire the most successful collegiate coaches. What do former players know about coaching and personnel management? Little to nothing.  Great college coaches, on the other hand, would be great at helping to organize the pairings, manage personalities and keep track of things on the course. That’s what they do full time.

  • Ryder Cup tryouts would be scheduled, where every potential player has the chance to play alternate shot practice rounds with potential team mates. Foursomes is where the 2014 Cup was really lost: the US scored 1 point to Europe’s seven. It should not be too hard to schedule a dozen practice rounds over two years at courses in Florida near the players homes. Potential team members would be invited to show up with their preferred partners to test their strategies. You likely could even find sponsors for these Ryder Cup tryouts. I call them tryouts, because that’s exactly what they would be. With expanded Captain’s picks, my decisions would be made in part on how these players mesh.

  • I’d also consider four-ball tryout rounds. Four ball, however, is not particularly complicated from a coaching standpoint. Just send players out according to their teaming preferences. That’s why spending two years talking to the players is so important. The secret to winning four ball is for one to agree to play it safe, while the other goes bird hunting.

  • Points for automatic selection would be doubled at the Cadillac and Volvo Match Play Championships. A strong showing in a match play championship should be a pretty good indication of a strong showing at the Ryder Cup.

  • Players whining about how much they want to be on the team would have no effect on me whatsoever. I have listed to professional whiners—teenagers—for twenty years and learned to ignore them completely.

  • Primadonnas would gain no traction with me. Every teenager thinks he or she is the center of the universe and expects to be treated as such (it’s where they are developmentally). I have learned to completely ignore primadonnas also.

  • Michael Jordan would be banned. He is yesterday’s news and the team doesn’t need the distraction.

  • Finally—and this is trivial—I’d find another uniform supplier. The ones they were wearing were silly.

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