AUTHOR : CHARLIE EPPS
Known as "The Golf Doctor," Charlie Epps has been one of Houston's most respected PGA professionals for 30 years. He is the Director of Golf at Redstone Golf Club, home of the PGA Tour's Shell Houston Open.
Epps teaches two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and second-year Tour player Bobby Gates. Listen to Epps 9-10 a.m. Saturday mornings on Yahoo! Sports Radio on 1560 AM in Houston, channel 127 pm Sirius satellite and 242 XM.
How many Cups does the golf world need?
This month brings the Presidents Cup, which is played every other year opposite of the Ryder Cup. The top U.S. professionals will compete against top players from around the world in match play formats from Nov. 14-20 at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia.
The Ryder Cup, which dates back to 1927, is one of the most celebrated events in all of golf. That event pits the U.S. pros against Great Britain and Ireland. Conducted by the PGA of America and PGA European Tour, there is no prize money. It's all about nationalism and promoting the game of golf.
The Presidents Cup dates all the way back to 1994. The PGA Tour saw the popularity of the Ryder Cup and wanted to start its own event on opposite years. The PGA Tour started the Presidents Cup because the U.S. professional tour doesn't control any of the four major championships, and it doesn't control the Ryder Cup, either.
Augusta National controls the Masters. The USGA controls the U.S. Open. The British Open is run by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, and the PGA of American runs the PGA Championship.
That leaves the PGA Tour with nothing...except the Tour Championship, which they call the "fifth major."
Is the Presidents Cup relevant? Sort of. It's a good television event, because the players really do enjoy playing for their countries. The event actually puts more pressure on the U.S. team because it has to play in that kind of event every year. One year, it's the Ryder Cup. The next, it's the Presidents Cup.
Now the European Tour has the Seve Cup, which also runs opposite of the Ryder Cup. How many Cups do we need? The LPGA has the Solheim Cup—won by the Europeans a couple months ago—and I wonder if the LPGA will add another Cup in Asia. Women's professional golf is moving in the Asian direction, so it could happen.
Asia already has all our money. They might as well have our golf tournaments, too. I can tell you if the U.S. played the Koreans and Japanese players, we probably wouldn't win a point.
The big story around the Presidents Cup this time around was U.S. captain Fred Couples' picks. The top-10 players on the Presidents Cup points list automatically make the team, but the captains also get two wildcard picks.
Couples chose a struggling Tiger Woods as his first captain's pick back in August. Many believe Tiger shouldn't be on the team because he didn't earn his spot. Did Freddy make the right choice there? The one thing to keep in mind was that it was his choice, no one else's. We can second-guess his picks, but Freddy is the captain.
I don't care one way or the other if Tiger is on the team. Fred made the pick, so Tiger is on the team. That's the bottom line. I don't believe in captain's picks at all. The teams should be constructed on merit. Take the politics out of it. That's why we have the World Rankings and Money Lists, Ryder Cup points, President Cup points.
The top 12 players should be on the team. That is what golf is about. If you play well, you succeed and get paid. If you don't, you miss the cut.
Golf is about performance, not a popularity contest.
In the last Presidents Cup, Greg Norman picked teenager Ryo Ishikawa to be part of the International Team. While Ryo is a great player, Norman made the pick because he is so popular in Japan and the Pacific Rim. The Ryo pick was more about television ratings than anything else. It also probably helped Norman book a few more golf course construction jobs in that part of the world.