first_imgThe setting is perfect. For the game of golf, the Ryder Cup is as good as it gets, and I had the pleasure of witnessing it Thursday.The Ryder Cup, for those who may not know, is sort of like the Olympics for professional golfers. The event is played once every two years, pitting the best 12 golfers from the United States against the top 12 golfers from Europe. Competition ensues in one of the world’s favorite games.The Ryder Cup has never been as close to home as it would be this week, so I had to be there.Yes, I shirked my responsibilities as a student but honored my responsibilities as a golfer. I owed it to myself to attend a major golf event, something I had yet to treat myself to. After entering a lottery two summers ago, I was able to purchase a pair of tickets to the Thursday round.I found it fitting to bring along my grandfather, the man who taught me the game of golf, and although we spent only half a day at the course, we learned a tremendous amount.It was like attending a Wild Card playoff football game at Lambeau, spectacular in its own sense. The Sunday rounds would be comparable to the Super Bowl, but even that may not be enough to match the Ryder Cup environment. My budget as a college student limits my spending habits – many times with good reason – so the weekend rounds slipped away from my grasp. But it didn’t even matter that I was just attending a practice round.Even if every putt didn’t count for points in the event, everything great about the world’s biggest golf event was on stunning display.Immaculate is the only term that can rightfully describe Medinah Country Club. Located just west of Chicago, everything imagined beautiful about one of the best U.S. cities doubles in beauty at Medinah.As expected, the course is in impeccable shape – it’s the Ryder Cup, so it better be. Medinah challenges golfers in a different way than most other courses. The course doesn’t contain any super tight, hit-it-and-pray tee shots on the course. The fairways are lined with a sprinkling of oak trees, which, giving the young season of fall, give this weekend the setting all fans dream of.The players cannot be crazy about it, though. Find the rough and they’ll find four-to-five inches of heavy grass. Furthermore, there is likely more water at Medinah than at any other PGA Tour event all year. A body of streams bend and extend throughout the course, visible on 10 of the 18 holes.Golfers love to say “More of the drink, the more we will think.” The more water, the more pressure, and there is barely a bigger stage than the Ryder Cup.More than 100 years have passed since golf was a sport at the Summer Olympic Games. Although golf will return in 2016, the 2012 Ryder Cup is widely considered an extension of the 2012 Olympics. And believe me, there is no shortage of prideful athletes at Medinah.Over the past few weeks, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have been the pair stirring the pot of professional golf. They both play great golf; Tiger gets compared to Rory, Rory gets compared to Tiger. You could call them a couple – they’ve been acting like BFFs.Not this week, though. This week, Tiger is an American competitor and Rory is a European competitor, as are the rest of their teammates. There are two driving ranges at Medinah – one for America, one for Europe. There is no prize money awarded, making the players completely patriotic in their pitches, chips and sand shots.Ever make a putt that sent you into frenzied cheer? Imagine that putt winning a match, sending thousands of fellow Americans into jubilation. That happens at the Ryder Cup.If the players seem patriotic, the fans trump them fashionably. Red, white and blue are visible in polos, slacks, hats and visors, with the occasional pair of America-styled Zubaz being flaunted.But the fans don’t stop with their apparel. The “U-S-A” chants demonstrated in London will be matched in Medinah.While the chants won’t be nearly as deafening as they were this summer, the fact there are chants is pretty awesome in itself. Keep in mind golf is hallowed for its lack of sound.It will certainly be an exciting weekend of golf just a few hours south of Madison.If you weren’t able to figure out Ryder Cup plans early enough and missed it this time around, don’t worry. The event returns to the Midwest in 2016 at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota. Then another four-year hiatus and Whistling Straits gets its chance.On Sunday, the match play will end and the chants will cease. It will be far too early to make plans for a future Ryder Cup, but it is never too early to start thinking about it. Join me – I’ll be there.Sean is a junior majoring in journalism and communication arts. What are your thoughts on the Ryder Cup? Email him at [email protected] or on Twitter at @sean_zak.last_img

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