The wheels were up at 1:09 pm as we took off from Omaha heading to Chicago for the 39th Ryder Cup match between the Americans and Europeans to be held at Medinah Country Club. I could barely sleep the night before as the anticipation of such a thrilling first time “bucket list” event for me kept my mind racing.
Wednesday was out first official day here which kicked off this morning with the biennial match between the PGA Officers, Board of Directors and Past Presidents vs the Ryder Cup Europe Board. The bus left the hotel promptly at 7:00 AM and headed to Ruth Lake Country Club. Ruth Lake is very close to Medinah and was founded in 1922. The Club was very traditional in setting with a beautiful clubhouse and grounds, tree lined fairways and undulating greens. The club still maintains traditional values as well with the “no cell phone” policy in effect on the grounds. That would be a tough one for many at Wilderness Ridge!
I was paired with a Past President of the PGA of America, Will Mann, PGA who is currently the Director for the Coastal Carolina University PGM program. Our opponents were Ove Sellberg, a former European Tour player from Sweden and Peter Davidson an older gentlemen from Great Britain. We started off on the extremely manicured course at 8:30 am and shotgun started to the 12th tee. It has been many years since I have played greens that were as fast as these. My guess would be they would have run at about 13 on a stimpmeter. I can say however, fast greens are much easier to putt and I made many putts and had ZERO three putts. Absolutely perfect greens, fairways, tees, bunkers, etc. A beautiful golf course to host this event!
Yes, even pros have cart accidents! As we got to our 2nd hole (hole 13) we drove up the right side of the fairway to find my partners ball when our competitor Peter who was on our right with his cart, decided to make a hard left turn and double back to get his partner. Well, in the process he was looking in the opposite direction and accidentally T-Boned the side of our cart hard on the passenger side! Fortunately, my partner didn’t have his leg hanging out of the cart or our day would have ended right there as we most certainly would have been heading to the hospital.
Ove and his partner Peter got off to a quick start. Peter is an amateur and received 11 handicap strokes for the match. I don’t think he hardly reached a par 4 in regulation but boy could he chip and putt! We found ourselves down at the turn but we battled back and made a few birdies; some for a half! Peter and Ove played terrific as partners and we were able to take them to the 18th hole but unfortunately they came out on top. The final outcome of the day also was in Europe’s favor but in our defense, they had more than a handful of former European tour players such as Jean Van de Velde. One player even won a senior event just last week! I played well on the tough course managing a 78 from the tips. I never hit so many hybrids and fairway woods into greens…..wore me out! Our opponents just played better today which happens sometimes! PGA Professionals are hard working men and women that don’t play near enough but really love play when we do have the opportunity to “peg it up”. Oh, well……we had a GREAT time anyway! I can tell you this; it really got me fired up for our Wilderness Cup Matches coming up in October. Brandon, watch out cuz you’re goin down!!
Tonight we head off to dinner at the Donald Stephens Convention Center for a Pre-Ryder Cup Gala. Following dinner we will head to the Akoo Theater for a concert with Justin Timberlake. Back to hotel about 11:00 pm and up early for practice rounds followed by a later meeting for PGA Board members assisting throughout the week.
Just in case you want to tune in, I will be on 93.7 FM “The Ticket” at 1:00 pm on Friday for a live update from Medianah.
I sure hope the American team can pull out a victory this week but as we said at lunch today with the European Board of Directors, the real winner this week is Golf. No greater venue to bring communities and countries together to play a great game that we all love. The Ryder Cup is all about Country and Pride and we have a lot of that win or lose.
As we always say at Wilderness Ridge, :Golf is FUN, Play More Golf!
That’s it for now, more tomorrow!
Chris Thomson, PGA