I was explaining the Ryder Cup to Natalie and I realized a couple of things: 1) it’s kind of difficult to explain and 2) it’s the whitest sport ever. It’s like the Olympics for golf, but it happens every two years, it’s only the US and Europe and this year it is played in Minnesota…so many white people.
I was fortunate enough to land tickets for Tuesday’s practice round, and I’d like to think I took full advantage of my day. But before I show you the gorgeous landscape that is Hazeltine National Golf Club (Chaska, MN), here’s a simpleton’s version of how the tournament is played and scored:
2 teams. United States. Europe. 12 players per team.
United States roster:
Captains (Davis Love III & Darren Clarke):
3 days. Friday. Saturday Sunday. Friday and Saturday are team play days, Sunday is single matches.
Friday and Saturday contain two separate formats: fourballs and foursomes. There are four tee times for each format with two players per tee time, so eight players from each side will play in fourballs and eight players from each side will play in foursomes on both Friday and Saturday. If you’re keeping up with your headmath you have realized that there are more matches to be played on Friday and Saturday than there are golfers. Good job. Some players will play 36 holes on either Friday or Saturday (or even both).
Fourballs: Each player hits his own shot and plays a regular round of golf (relatively speaking). There are four balls in play on every hole. Whichever player scores the lowest score on the hole wins one point for his team. Whoever has more points after 18 holes wins, or if one team builds an insurmountable lead (they win the first 10 holes, making it impossible for the other team to come back) then that team wins automatically. If Dustin Johnson scores a 10 on a hole, but his playing partner Jordan Spieth birdies – then Dustin’s score doesn’t matter. No matter how bad it is. Jordan wins the hole (given the European’s don’t score better) for Team USA. If the best scores for each team are the same on a hole, each team gets a 1/2 point for that hole.
Foursomes: This is alternate shot. This means if you and I are on a team, I hit a shot, then you hit a shot, then I hit a shot, then you hit a shot…until we hole out. Whichever team has the lowest score for the hole gets one point for that hole. Whichever team has more points after 18 holes wins.
Each of the above matches are worth one point total.
Sunday: Singles matches. The showdown. Good ole’ fashioned golf. Me vs. you. Whichever golfer wins, gets one point for his team. Each golfer plays on this day, so there are a total of 12 matches.
Still keeping up with the algebra? There are 28 matches total. The first team to reach 14 1/2 points total wins. If the Ryder Cup finishes at 14-14, then the defending champs keep the Ryder Cup (in this case, Europe). So USA needs 14.5 points to win the 2016 Ryder Cup.
Here’s the hole-by-hole photo gallery that I took earlier this morning:
Hole #1 – Par 4, 490 yards
Hole #2 – Par 4, 431 yards
Hole #3 – Par 5, 633 yards
Hole #4 – Par 3, 210 yards
Hole #5 – Par 4, 448 yards
Hole #6 – Par 4, 405 yards
Hole #7 – Par 5, 572 yards (*disclaimer: this is THE hole at Hazeltine. So it deserves much more than one picture)
Hole #8 – Par 3, 176 yards
Hole #9 – Par 4, 432 yards
Hole #10 – Par 4, 452 yards
Hole #11 – Par 5, 606 yards
Hole #12 – Par 4, 518 yards
Hole #13 – Par 3, 248 yards
I forgot to take a picture of 13, so let’s just treat it like hotel elevators treat the 13th floor and act like it doesn’t really exist.
Hole #14 – Par 4, 352 yards
Hole #15 – Par 5, 642 yards
Hole #16 – Par 4, 402 yards
Hole #17 – Par 3, 182 yards
Hole #18 – Par 4, 475 yards