The Ryder Cup Is Being Pushed Back But Staying in Wisconsin

This event is huge for the state, but it will have to wait another year.

The Ryder Cup, considered by some to be the most important sporting event ever planned for Wisconsin, won’t take place in September as scheduled.

Golfers from the United States and Europe and their rabid fans will have to wait until next year to gather at Whistling Straits in Kohler. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to present an array of public health challenges, the PGA of America decided to postpone the Ryder Cup, which had been scheduled for Sept. 22-27 at the picturesque layout along the shore of Lake Michigan in Sheboygan County. 

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The 43rd Ryder Cup has been rescheduled for Sept. 21-26, 2021, the PGA of America, Ryder Cup Europe and the PGA Tour jointly announced Wednesday. The organizations also revealed that the Presidents Cup has also been rescheduled to accommodate the Ryder Cup change.   

The Presidents Cup, initially slated for Sept. 30 through Oct. 3, 2021, at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, will now be played Sept. 19-25, 2022.

“Unlike other major sporting events that are played in existing stadiums, we had to make a decision now about building facilities to host the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits,” PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said. “Our medical experts and the public authorities in Wisconsin could not give us certainty that conducting an event responsibly with thousands of spectators in September would be possible. Given that uncertainty, we knew rescheduling was the right call.”

The Ryder Cup is unique among golf events due to the fervent atmosphere created by the passionate spectators of both sides, Europe’s Ryder Cup Director Guy Kinnings said.

“While that point is significant, it is not as important as the health of the spectators which, in these difficult times, is always the main consideration,” Kinnings said. “We considered all options including playing with a limited attendance, but all our stakeholders agreed this would dilute the magic of this great occasion.”

With the decision to move the Ryder Cup to 2021, all subsequent Ryder Cups after Whistling Straits will also shift to odd years. The Ryder Cup now planned for 2023 will be held at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome. The event will return to the United States in 2025 with the Bethpage Black course in Farmingdale, New York, serving as host. 

“With the uncertainty of the current climate, we fully support the Ryder Cup’s decision to delay a year in order to ensure fans could be a part of the incredible atmosphere in Wisconsin, and the delay of this year’s Presidents Cup was the right decision in order to allow for that option,”  PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said.

The Ryder Cup, which began in 1927, brings together the top tour professionals from the United States and Europe.

“While it is disappointing that the Ryder Cup won’t be played this year, the decision to reschedule is the right thing to do under the circumstances,” said U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Steve Stricker, an Edgerton native who now resides in Madison. “At the end of the day, we want to stage a Ryder Cup that will rival all other Ryder Cups in my home state of Wisconsin, and now we have the opportunity to showcase the event as it was meant to be seen.”

Rescheduling the Ryder Cup became a difficult decision with many factors to consider, European Ryder Cup Captain Padraig Harrington said. 

“But I believe it is the right assessment given the unprecedented circumstances we are facing at this time,” Harrington said.

“When you think of the Ryder Cup you think of the distinctive atmosphere generated by the spectators, such as around the first tee at Le Golf National two years ago. If that cannot be responsibly recreated at Whistling Straits in September, then it is correct that we all wait until it can be.”

Speculation about the Ryder Cup has been ongoing for months, with reports indicating that the PGA was considering going through with the event but without fans. Several golfers voiced their opposition to keeping fans away.

Held every other year at alternating sites in the United States and Europe, as many as 45,000 spectators had been expected each day at Whistling Straits. 

The event, with fans from around the globe in attendance, had been expected to have an economic impact of $135 million for the region. 

Coronavirus concerns interrupted the NBA and NHL seasons and delayed the start of the Major League Baseball schedule, while other major sporting events have been cancelled over concerns about keeping athletes and fans safe as COVID-19 cases continue to spike across the country.

The Ryder Cup postponement is the latest economic blow for the region, with the Milwaukee Bucks heading to Orlando, Florida, to complete their season and the Milwaukee Brewers set to begin play later this month in empty stadiums with an abbreviated schedule.

The Democratic National Convention will still be held in Milwaukee Aug. 17-20 but at a significantly scaled-down level. 

Although there’s palpable disappointment that the Ryder Cup won’t be coming to Whistling Straits this September as planned, the postponement could turn out to be a major win for the region if fans are able to attend next year.

Stricker and Harrington had been focusing on the potential makeup of their respective 12-man squads. A home country captain, Stricker has also been offering input concerning the course setup at Whistling Straits. 

The U.S. and European teams will revisit their respective selection processes for Ryder Cup qualifying in the near future.

The United States has lost seven of the last 10 Ryder Cup competitions, including last year’s event outside Paris. Stricker has been hopeful that the U.S. team’s fortunes would change at the Whistling Straits layout. 

Tickets purchased for the 2020 Ryder Cup via rydercup.com will be automatically valid for the corresponding day(s) in 2021.

In the coming weeks, the PGA of America will contact those who secured tickets via rydercup.com to facilitate refunds for anyone unable to attend in 2021. Further details regarding this process are available on the Ryder Cup website.

Those who have purchased tickets and hospitality packages on the secondary market must contact specific sites directly. The PGA of America will be unable to process refunds for those purchases.

In a corresponding decision, the PGA of America and Ryder Cup Europe also announced that the Junior Ryder Cup will be rescheduled for Sept. 20-21, 2021, at Blue Mound Golf and Country Club in Wauwatosa. It was originally scheduled for Sept. 21-22.

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Rich Rovito is a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine.