19th Hole

Tom Velarde
Golf Professional
Black Mesa Golf Club
La Mesilla, AZ

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Oh My Captain…Oh My Captain

Much has been written about the Ryder Cup and the American defeat. Much more is being tossed around pointing fingers of blame on players and the captain. All I know for sure is when you point the finger of blame three more are pointed back at you, so let’s break down what happened.

Anytime you are going on a trip you most likely will have some plan on what path you want to follow. If the trip is from Phoenix to the most beautiful Black Mesa in New Mexico the decision becomes one of either time or convenience. From that point on you make contingencies based on what you encounter. You want to leave at 7am and should arrive at 4pm, but a blowout takes two hours away as your spare was also flat. Now who is to blame, the nail that caused the flat or you who did not check the spare tire? It really does not matter much as you’re still a loser of two hours.

Our team had a blowout and a flat and we had no spare tire at all. If you listen to the players, we just left and really did not know where we were going. Comparing with team Europe, they had a plan when they left. That plan included lunch and comfort breaks, why it even had ideas if the road was blocked what they would do. It is of great interest to me (a PGA professional) that the European Tour would grant the European Ryder Cup captain the ability to set tee times during the European Tour season. This means that McGinley could pair McDowell and Victor Dubuisson together for two rounds at European Tour stops, which allowed them to form some type of bond. It does not stop at that point, the European captain could interact with the players who would be considered for the team at any time.

I am most sure that Captain Watson also was able to interact with our players, but we do not know what this was. Team Europe had an active role in decisions and pairings and had input on team meetings.  To those of us on the outside looking in, I just saw that team Europe was just having fun and looked like they knew they would win.

It most certainly is not easy to be the Ryder Cup captain and my admiration for Tom Watson is greater now as he accepted a challenge that was most daunting. It is sad that his legacy would include this time but will not note that this was the turning point for our Ryder Cup teams.

We like to win but we detest always losing, which is our position now in the last 10 Ryder Cups. Thank Tom Watson for forcing the PGA to make a change and I hope that change will be to appoint Paul Azinger as captain for the next 2 or 3 Ryder Cups. Give him the flexibility to field the best team, and do not become poor winners we just want to look at team Europe and say, “How does it feel to be Zinged?” And, if we   t in a chorus of “Over There” after 2016 don’t blame us, it’s just a little payback for “Ole”.

Tom Velarde is the Manager at Black Mesa Golf Club in Espanola, New Mexico, just northwest of Santa Fe. For more information or to reach Tom, email tvelarde@blackmesagolfclub.com.