European golf: What the hell happened? And other notes...
I just wrote a short piece on the retirement of Seve Ballesteros, who’s hanging it up after trying to stage a comeback earlier this year (a rather unfortunate decision, in hindsight). Seems like the passionate Spaniard just doesn’t have it in him anymore, and he will only tee ‘em up with his kids from now on.
What this means for European golf isn’t that much since, as I write, Ballesteros belonged to an era that has long since ended: A time, long ago, when European golfers actually contended in - and, gasp, won - major golf tournaments. Think of that heyday of European golf: Nick Faldo, Bernard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam, Jose Maria Olazabal, Seve. They’re all major championship winners (and some of them - Langer, Olazabal, Faldo, Seve - are multiple winners.
Now name today’s great European golfers? Somehow they just don’t really stack up, do they? The only European to win a major golf tournament - hell, even a significant PGA tournament - since 1990 whose name is not mentioned above is Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, who took home the British Open in 1999 (the same year Olazabal captured the Masters). That’s pretty much it, folks.
Yet the Europeans have, since 1985, won more Ryder Cup titles, and in recent years have come to simply dominate the Americans. Why is this? Why does it seem like you can gather a bunch of European golfers together and, in a team effort, they can pretty much humiliate the best golfers in the world and yet cannot win tournaments on their own? What has happened to European golf? This is a serious question, with no easy answer. Even Faldo can’t come up with a good explanation.
I’d be interested to hear your theories.
WorldGolf.com’s resident economist and money-tracker, Brandon Tucker, has just penned another dispatch about the effect of the dreadful dollar on golf, this time sussing out some deals in Scotland, Ireland and England for American golfers still bent on heading over the pond for a one-in-a-lifetime golf vacation.
This is sort of companion piece to Tucker’s last report on how those lucky to live with more favorably currencies (i.e. the British pound or the euro) can make their money go far in the U.S.
Sure, a trip to St. Andrews in Scotland or Old Head in Ireland are more expensive than ever (and you got to think golf vacation packagers are taking a bit of a hit), but Tucker says stick to the shoulder months (in this case, after September), and to the undiscovered northwest corner of Ireland, and the old greenback still might go some distance.
Bringing things to a close, the aforementioned Baldwin has thrown out a challenge of sorts to see who I’ll pick to win this week’s British Open. My record, to be sure, is not a strong one, especially when I throw my weight behind European golfers. I’m still weighing the field, but will make my pick soon. And lest Baldwin worry, I haven’t been in Amsterdam for more than a year now, so my pick - even if it is a European - will be made with a clear head.
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