Senior’s golf: Enough is enough

Every so often I hear the renewed plea for a Ryder Cup for senior golfers. I’ve just been made aware of the latest foray into this area. Please, no. We have enough team events already. Does anybody care to see another one?

The Ryder Cup for seniors would be just like the real Ryder Cup, presumably. The only difference would be that the golfers are 55 and over. They’d be professionals, the teams would be the U.S. against Europe, or perhaps the U.S. against the rest of the world — which would be different than the Ryder Cup. The competition would be held every two years, and on and on.

Who cares? Who needs this?

Identity problem

The Senior PGA Tour has enough of an identity problem as it is. Quick now: Can you name the Senior majors? There are four of them. You could look it up.

But the only one that counts is the U.S. Senior Open. That’s the only one that truly registers with golf fans, and even that not with everybody who follows the game. Arnold Palmer himself says that it’s the big one for seniors. The PGA Seniors’ Championship also has merit. But the Tradition? The Senior Players Championship? Uh-uh.

So why woulanybody want a senior Ryder Cup? I’d wager most golf-watchers would be hard-pressed to name three European or rest-of-the-world golfers who would qualify to play against the U.S. I’m not sure I could do it. Sure, Gary Player of South Africa. That’s easy. Maybe Ireland’s Christy O’Connor. But the team that would oppose the U.S. would need to come up with 10 other golfers.

They exist, and they’re excellent players. But how could a golf fan identify with players they don’t know? I can’t even see this changing over time, because the senior circuit is a big deal mostly — or only — in the town in which the weekly tournaments are played.

Television ratings are never very good, although the demographics for advertisers are wonderful. That’s why CNBC will televise Senior PGA Tour events in 2001. The network figures there’s a fit between the senior pros and the older people who might follow them; the latter supposedly have money and would like to see their golf on the network known for its financial news and analyses.

Maybe the network is right. Maybe there is a fit. But I’ll tell you this: I’ll eat my had if a Senior Ryder Cup successfully captures a crowd. Isn’t enough enough already? Don’t we have enough team tournaments?

There’s the Dunhill Cup this week at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, and it’s in trouble. This week’s event could be the last one, at least in its current incarnation. The Presidents Cup between a team of U.S. pros — including Tiger Woods — and a rest-of-the-world (except for Europe) team, is on next week in Virginia. The World Cup for two-man teams of male pros is coming up in Argentina. The first World Cup for women was held recently. Oh, you didn’t know?

Too many events

There’s a glut of team events. We’re saturated and getting supersaturated. My heart just isn’t going pitter-patter at the notion of a Senior Ryder Cup. Is yours? The Senior PGA Tour was the success story of the 1990s in pro sport, but enough is enough. Already some players believe the schedule is too long. Who can keep track of every tournament going on here, there and everywhere? And where would the powers-that-be put a Senior Ryder Cup in the already overcrowded schedule?

I’m sure great minds are working on these matters already. No doubt some people see vast riches to be made from a Senior Ryder Cup. After all, the junior version has become a gold mine in recent years. And if it can happen to the real Ryder Cup, well, why couldn’t it happen for the senior version? Hasn’t the Solheim Cup-the Ryder Cup for women been a smashing success? Yes, it has. And next thing you know they’ll be talking about a Senior Solheim Cup. Spare me. Spare us. The year has 52 weeks. Does it needs 274 professional tournaments or competitions or classics or team events? Or whatever the number is…which is too many.

A Senior Ryder Cup? Please, I’m gagging on the thought.