local knowledge

Golf Court: Should Luke Donald be Ryder Cup captain again?

October 20, 2023
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It's no secret that the recent history of Ryder Cup golf has been a history of home blowouts. Starting in 2014, five straight have resulted in the visiting team getting crushed, and most of the visiting captains have stood in for their fair share of criticism. The role of the away captain is the sports equivalent to being thrown into the lion's den, and this year in Marco Simone, after yet another annihilation, a question came up on Sunday: What if Luke Donald, who did such a marvelous job in Rome and had the full trust of his players, took the reins again in 2025 at Bethpage Black?

It certainly sounds logical. If the problem is that winning on the road is so hard, wouldn't it help to have a captain with actual Ryder Cup experience, rather than one stepping into the fire for the first time? When you think about it, golf is one of the only sports with a team component in which the leader of the team is tenured for exactly one match. This wouldn't make sense in baseball, or basketball, or football, so why does it make sense here? At the very least, it couldn't hurt—it's not like the away team could do worse, right?

Then again, is a one-time captaincy part of what makes the Ryder Cup special? Would it mean fewer opportunities for long-term veterans, including all of Europe's LIV defectors who may be welcomed back into the fold soon? By trying to turn it into an even more professional event, are we losing some of the spirit?


Naomi Baker

This is one of two cases that was heard this week on the Local Knowledge podcast in our first installment of Golf Court. The second is also Ryder Cup-themed: Should the DP World Tour be stripped of its right to choose the host venue when the Cup is in Europe so that the money incentives are mitigated and the event can be played at some of the historical links courses like St. Andrews and Royal Birkdale, rather than at soulless resorts? Or would that be a financial death sentence to the DP World Tour?

With a judge presiding and two lawyers arguing the case, we've attempted to solve it once and for all. Check out the podcast below, or wherever you listen.