An Introspective Look into Ryder Cup Addiction
Admitting You Have a Ryder Cup Addiction
Hi, my name is Taylor McCutcheon, and like you all, I suffer from golf addiction.
The Ryder Cup only elevates my dependency levels on the game and its content. I have faced the music and rewatched that final round coverage to try and understand where things went wrong for Team USA in 2018. I recognize that I have no relevance to the outcome score-wise yet I feel responsible. I’m truly gutted with nowhere to turn. I struggle to get up in the morning thinking about the impending competition between the two groups.
I am nervous and have good reason to be. Similar to Steve Stricker, I have lost sleep recently in anticipation of the tournament. While Stricker had to swallow a difficult conversation with the level-headed Patrick Reed, I have been suffering through countless nightmares that involve Mike Tirico and his buttery smooth voice announcing a European victory over and over again.
The build-up to the Ryder Cup has been overwhelming. I know I am not the only one glued to golf Twitter as late September approaches. As I unpack these four steps in overcoming addiction, let me explain how I am feeling about the Ryder Cup and my unhealthy yet tireless relationship with the sport.
Step 1: Honesty, reliving Phil’s concession, and the anxiety I carry into Whistling Straits
In 2018, after watching Francesco Molinari find the green, Phil Mickelson needed to hit one close in order to battle back and fight for a half-point. Phil then dunked his tee shot into the water on the 163-yard par 3 16th. Once Mickelson’s ball found the drink, Lefty turned around and shook Molinari’s hand indicating that he was conceding the match and ultimately the Ryder Cup.
As Phil’s ball sank to the bottom, so too did the American’s hopes and dreams. European fans proceeded to shower Molinari in beer and lift Tommy Fleetwood onto their shoulders in celebration, hair flowing in the wind. The raucous cheers and excitement spread throughout the course in seconds and even faster across social media.
As I look forward to this year’s tournament, I struggle to find many reasons to be hopeful with the primadonna behavior from the American players. I think about the Bryson and Brooks drama more than I should. Who doesn’t? Their childish back and forth drives my addiction to stay on top of coverage. This causes me to check Twitter regularly while I sit at work. Maybe I end up taking an extra half hour for my lunch break to watch Golf Today. Maybe I don’t.
I mean from a telecast perspective, I’d love to see these two babies put their pacifiers in their mouths and team up. To watch them go head to head with the Euros in a 4 pack of players would be tremendous. Brooks Koepka already has a 4 pack himself, according to some. The two big hitters play a similar style and would bully Whistling Straits if they had the opportunity. While they might not win, their pairing in itself would result in a dangerous content overload. Talk about a never-ending high for Tour Junkies across the country.
Step 2: Believing in a higher power, my commitment to fantasy golf
After googling “what to do about my addiction to golf?” my social media became flooded with twelve-step plans to face my reality. Treatment facilities encourage people like us, golf degenerates, to seek faith in a higher power. I heard the words being spoken to me through Instagram and turned to Yahoo Daily Fantasy, one hell of a drug, not much of a savior. I convinced myself that if I committed to winning my league then maybe I would feel more in control of my illness come late September.
Fantasy golf and religion both emphasize the importance of practicing endurance. The twenty-one-week season put my endurance to the test. I have learned far too much about golf and fantasy betting. I was positive that this commitment could define my relationship with golf as I search for the line between fan and junkie. A line that I have come to learn is as well defined as Stewart Cink’s head tan line.
However, I realized that I had crossed the barrier. I tried to silence my addiction in the same way that Rory attempted to quiet the crowd in Hazeltine in 2016. I gave into fantasy golf as McIlroy gave into Patrick Reed.
Surprisingly, gambling only led me to a place I never expected to go. Like Cameron Smith’s mullet, I don’t know how things got to this point. Not only have I been taking notes about weekly golf tournaments, the players, and the courses, but this year my notebook includes a Ryder Cup watch list.
For the most part, my charts focus on the captain’s picks. These bubble boys, Tony Finau for example, gave me extra motivation to do thorough research. Kevin Kisner and Kevin Na do not belong, just to be clear. Take it or leave it. I do my due diligence with fantasy golf, this ain’t no hobby.
I will give no one time and space to those who believe Phil Mickelson belongs on the team. I have normalized my addiction into a lifestyle, and I am living on a razor's edge. And just like Bryson’s driver, IT SUCKS.
Step 3: Soul-searching, how my Ryder Cup addiction affected certain relationships
As I write this article, I’ve had to reflect and examine certain relationships in my life. Just like Tim Tucker vanishing in the night, Jay Monahan and I are over. Monahan and I have never met, yet the PGA Tour Commissioner broke my heart and Twitter when he decided to spend his valuable time protecting a grown man from unruly fans. I did not realize that was in his job description. I guess that I should examine the fine print of his lengthy contract with more detail.
While I have heard takes about players who could play the role of a babysitter on the team, such as Webb Simpson, I did not expect the au pair to come from the top. Monahan turned the pre-Ryder Cup focus towards Bryson and Brooks instead of pouring gasoline into the current dumpster fire of golf fandom. I am not saying Monahan should encourage fans to be rude to players, but a piece of me wishes that the Commissioner would motivate supporters to act like fans at the Open, completely shirtless menaces. Maybe he could incentivize streakers at all costs. Maybe even gift a pair of Faldo’s Squairz to the common man, the least Monahan could do.
In contrast, I have grown closer to two Ryder Cup adjacent figures leading up to Whistling Straits. First, Harry Higgs. A man who could play a pivotal role if Captain Stricker decides to unleash him. The Ryder Cup just announced an official partner with Tito’s Vodka, Higgs’ favorite elixir. One of mine as well. Higgs’ jovial attitude in this environment paired with the delicious drink could be the perfect ingredients for a Team USA victory. Higgs brings original spirit to the game, and those who follow it religiously find respite in the fun he creates.
The other man, David Johnson. This legendary fan sank a putt at Hazeltine in 2016, took one hundred dollars off of Justin Rose, and mocked the Europeans while at it. He asked if he could use DJ’s putter instead. Please Youtube, “Ryder Cup Fan Heckles His Way to Glory.” Johnson delivers hopes into my persistent fandom that maybe one day I will be noticed by superstars like Rory and DJ for reasons better than yelling “Mashed Potatoes!” Both men, Higgs and Johnson, relax the game and the addicts that follow.
Step 4: Service to others, helping our friends come to terms with their golf addiction
Taking ownership of our unhealthy commitment to golf and the Ryder Cup will be the best path to recovery. As opposed to blaming the incredible golf venues that draw us in every two years, take time and reflect on your relationship with golf’s greatest team event. Were you there for your friends or were you lost in golf media watching @UsedGolfFacts explode after P Reed missed out on the team?
Blaming others won’t solve the problem either. I came to terms with myself after realizing that it is okay to not feel okay about Team USA’s performance in recent Ryder Cups (Europe has won 7 of the last 9). Shout out to Bubba Watson for the words of wisdom. I’m still addicted to golf and I always will be. Maybe we all should be junkies together?
My hopes for this year’s event center around Team USA’s spirit as they compete. I hope they fight like dogs. As addicts, we have to be honest about our history. The scars of past Ryder Cups line the fairway of my proverbial soul like fox hole divots at my local muni course. There are no atheists in fox holes, and there will be no atheists this last weekend in September.
As the first tees break ground, silent thoughts and prayers will ascend to the golf gods above. We will see if our collective prayers are answered like the ones heard during the European Miracle at Medinah in 2012. If not, I am going to have to ask if Greg Norman can apply for U.S. citizenship and lead the Americans to victory in 2023 in Italy with his 15th club.
Taylor McCutcheon is a new, freelance writer for Tour Junkies. Taylor will focus on golf adjacent, cultural content in the world of golf. Welcome Taylor to the team and help spread the word by sharing his content.