It is time to call out one of the laziest takes in golf: “The Presidents Cup should be a mixed teams event.”
The incredibly entertaining Solheim Cup had not even finished when the idea, which has been around for a few years, popped up again on social media.
Some who suggest it do mean well. But it’s time to address how it does no favours for women’s or men’s golf.
Firstly, I am a huge fan of women’s golf. The number of LPGA Tour events that have my attention over men’s tournaments is climbing every year. The LPGA Tour travels to more architecturally exciting golf courses – the Donald Ross-designed Inverness Club in Ohio for the Solheim Cup and the Drive On Championship is just one example – and there are far more golf swings on LPGA Tour that are rhythmic, balanced and downright transfixing to watch compared to the PGA Tour.
But with the Solheim Cup and the Ryder Cup in the books, the rescheduled Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow in the US is now less than a year away and it’s at a critical moment in the Cup’s timeline.
The Presidents Cup has a chance to catapult from an iconic edition at Royal Melbourne in 2019, when Tiger Woods used the Composite course as a canvas to paint arguably the most captivating installment in the event’s 27-year history.
Now is not the time to suggest silly changes to an event with global potential. Hear me out; I have an alternative.
The suggestion for a mixed Presidents Cup is rooted in the fact that it has been a lopsided event. There’s no denying that.
The International team has won only once (in 1998) since the biennial showpiece was introduced in 1994 as a way of allowing golf stars outside Europe to take on the might of the US. But that does not mean it shouldn’t be given a chance to shine.
The Ryder Cup was established in 1927, but for more than 50 years it was largely dominated by the Americans.
That was until changes to the Great Britain team allowed continental Europe to compete. That opened the door for a young Spanish lad named Seve Ballesteros to come in and take it by the scruff of the neck. Now, it arguably sits alongside the Masters as the two biggest events in golf – spectacles which actually transcend the game.
Nations like Australia, South Africa, Japan, South Korea and others have produced so many great golfers, they deserve to have their own teams event in the men’s game since they are ineligible for the Ryder Cup.
The Internationals came close to winning in Korea in 2015 and in 2019 they led going into the final day at Royal Melbourne.
The last Presidents Cup was celebrated around the world and not just because Woods was the American captain, although that helped. It was because the Presidents Cup was held on one of the finest courses ever designed and a bunch of loveable underdogs from nations you just wanted to cheer on stared down the Yanks and nearly beat them.
We need to give it a chance without tinkering with it.
Most importantly, women’s golf does not need the men’s game to suggest it should step in only when a men’s event is struggling. That is an insult to women’s golf and to how much respect and attention it has garnered during the past few years.
Make no mistake, I want a mixed event on the PGA and LPGA tours more than most. But we should honour women’s golf by creating a new event from scratch, or at least styling one around an event that isn’t in perceived trouble.
The Tournament of Champions on Maui – played only by winners on the PGA Tour from the previous year – has long been suggested for such a mixed event. There are no known plans for that, but combining it with LPGA Tour winners from the 12 months prior would be special.
There was a strong rumour the PGA Tour was going to turn the World Cup of Golf into a mixed event and hold it in Melbourne annually, or at least biennially. That would have been sensational and no city in Australia would support a mixed golf tournament better than Melbourne. We know this because of how successful the mixed event at the Vic Open on the Bellarine Peninsula has been.
COVID-19 put that World Cup of Golf idea on the backburner, but we hope the PGA Tour puts it back on the to-do list. That would be a take we’d all get behind.
Image by Getty images: David Cannon