In pondering Team USA's Walker Cup blowout loss at Royal Lytham & St Annes, all reports said the American team represented their country admirably. We discussed some of the predicaments today on Morning Drive and where the matches go from this 16.5 to 9.5 drubbing at the hands of the Great Britain and Ireland team.
USA Captain Spider Miller, who has no say over who is picked on the team by a secretive USGA committee, was visibly upset during the closing ceremony. (Though it might have bee the pairing of a green jacket and fire engine red pants that screamed eggnog and caroling more than international team competition).
Global Golf Post reported that Miller took the approach of getting each team member into three matches during the two-day, four-session Walker Cup. So while I admire his passion, it's hard to understand what the USGA's goal is with the team it hands to its captain and what the captain does with his roster. Carrying a required two mid-amateurs and taking a bit of the modern "everyone wins a trophy" mentality (by not necessarily putting the best team out), appears admirable in spreading the experience of this historic once-in-a-lifetime event.
And this more democratic approach captures the spirit of the matches, which are probably under-appreciated at this point in the role they played in raising the profile of the American game or helping Bobby Jones win the Grand Slam (as David Fay wrote).
However, we live in a world that quickly turns on a competition if it senses there is unlikely to be...a competition.
For instance, the Presidents Cup is abandoning its singular format this year to try and help the International squad be more competitive. It may be too late.
Yet with the USGA taking an an affirmative action approach to the over-25 set and trying to get everyone in three matches, will a sense that the best team is not put forward by the USGA undermine the matches (which are about to start getting extensive television coverage going forward)?
Or is it more important to maintain the original spirit of the matches and spread the wealth at the expense of a win-first approach?
I really don't know the answer.