With the Presidents Cup upon us, Danny Ruddock looks at golf’s relationship with the current political climate.
The Presidents Cup, where the best American golfers face off against an International team (excluding Europe), starts on Friday – a week after President Trump gave his speech in Alabama railing against “son of a bitch” NFL players and their refusal to stand for the national anthem.
Trump is chairman of the tournament and is due to make an appearance on Sunday. Hosted at Liberty National Golf Club, the venue is overlooked by Lady Liberty herself. Players will be hitting some tee shots with the Manhattan skyline towering in the background.
The expected presence of Trump shows he is still comfortable in a golfing environment, an army of white men in polo shirts and pressed khaki shorts, repeating chants of “USA” as they march from green to green.
Fromer Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III thought Trump’s stance on the anthem was “right” and player Ricky Fowler doesn’t think the National Anthem is “necessarily the best time” to protest. The majority of the American team are rich, white and under forty. Why would they risk any of their status, money or fans by speaking out against a political system that is designed for them?
The tournament itself is worth watching. It cannot be compared to the hype and fervour of a Ryder Cup, but the 2015 event where the Americans won by a single point in Korea, went down as one of the best President’s Cup clashes in its 23-year history.
The teams are largely similar in their make-up. Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas lead the American team, while Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day and an in-form Marc Leishman are the marquee players on the visiting side.
Team USA is largely like the one that took down Europe at the last Ryder Cup. They have an average age of 31, five-time major winner Phil Mickelson is their lowest ranked player at 30 and four of their team are in the top ten in the world.
On paper they are stronger, there is a togetherness fostered from the last Ryder Cup. If they do win comfortably as expected, it will look ominous for Europe in Paris 2018.
Ironically, in a week where Tiger Woods admitted he may never play competitive golf again, American golf has never looked so strong. Off the course, it looks the very same, the preserve of the rich and powerful, no place for controversy, just head down and hit the ball.
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