Our Day at the 2018 Ryder Cup
To say that we have been dreaming about our day at the Ryder Cup for quite a while would be an understatement. I believe the first time we heard that the Ryder Cup was coming to Paris, which is just a short 1-hour flight from Nürnberg, was back in 2011, and we have been planning on attending ever since!
It does take a little bit of planning, and a whole lot of patience, to go to the Ryder Cup! We registered online to purchase tickets back in July 2017. It wasn’t until October 4th that it was announced tickets would go on sale. I remember arriving early at the office that day to ensure I would be able to purchase 2 tickets, which, in the end, didn’t even go on sale until the afternoon! At 150 Euros per ticket for Friday, and with weekend tickets even more expensive, we settled on the Opening Day!
Finally, with tickets in hand, we flew to Paris!
It was difficult to sleep the night before, especially because we heard the announcement that Tiger Woods would be teeing off at 8:55 in the Morning Fourball! So we set the alarm, got on the train, and arrived at the course by 9:15 or so. Unfortunately, it took longer to get to the golf course than we had planned. But once we got there, we made the most of our day at the Ryder Cup.
The 14th Hole
For the morning Fourball, we had made our viewing spot on the green at the 14th, next to the walkway between the green and the 15th tee. We arrived a couple of hours before the first group arrived. While we waited for the players, we got our first introduction to exactly what it is to visit the Ryder Cup. The fans! The US Marshals had made their home on the same hole. You may have seen this merry bunch on TV- they were a group of probably 12 or so guys dressed in red white and blue hockey jerseys that they had made with their names as well as the Eiffel Tower and the number 18. But you might recognize them from their Viking-style hats that donned the US flag.
Until the players came through, they really kept us entertained with their songs, chants, and getting the crowd involved. As the morning progressed, more and more fans showed up on the hole (including Napoleon!), and I think everyone around us enjoyed the songs and chats- especially when they could give these American fans a warm European Ole Ole Ole welcome!
The 14th hole is a long dogleg left par 5. From our viewpoint standing behind the green, we couldn’t see the tee box. But we could feel the players coming as the crowds became much denser. While we couldn’t see any tee shots, we could, depending on if the player hit the fairway or not (here’s looking at you US team!), see their second shots. As well as the approach shots and putts.
Morning Fourball at The Ryder Cup
The first groups to arrive were Justin Rose and Jon Rahm against Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau. I’m a huge Rose fan- his swing just seems so effortless. And a reigning back-to-back US Open and PGA Champion Koepka- this was a perfect start to our morning!
The next group featured Rory McIlroy and Thorbjon Olesen against Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson. Being next to the ropes, and being the kid that I am, I am happy to report that I got fist bumps from every player of this foursome! And, of course, the last group, which was the dynamic duo of Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood against Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed. While we couldn’t see his second shot, we had a perfect direct view of Tiger’s 3rd. The pin sat directly between his little pitch shot and us. He came up probably a good 12-15 feet short, so we had the same direct view of his putt, which he missed to his right. Par. No blood on the hole and the match remained all square.
Our First Fist Bumps at The Ryder Cup
Holding our line on ropes, it got crazy with the crush of people as the players began to exit the green. Not only were there thousands of fans outside and hugging the ropes- it was all we could do to keep our positions secure- there was now a crush of people inside the walkway. Scorekeepers, on-course announcers (we saw David Feherty!), thousands of press, and security walked by. Then finally, amongst the crush the caddies and a couple of steps behind the players. The Americans made their way past us first- then another thousand press and security, then the European caddies and players, and finally, you guessed it, another thousand press and security. And, lucky for me, a fist bump from Molinari and from Tommy. And chants of Ole Ole Ole! No fist-bumps from Reed or Tiger though.
Moving to the 17th
A few minutes later, we could move again, so we contemplated our next move. We saw on the big screen that Fowler and DJ won their match on 16. Knowing the 17th green wasn’t too far away, we decided to go and see what we could see. We found a spot on the rope on the player’s right side of the fairway, just short of the green. This also afforded us a direct view of the big screen across the fairway. The first group we saw there was Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth against Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton. The match passed us with the US one up and halving 17.
Looking at the timestamp of my phone pictures, it wasn’t until almost 20 minutes later that the final group of the day walked up. After leaving us on 14 all square, Molinari and Tommy took 15 and 16 and were 2 up as they approached us. Looking back, I wonder if 15 and 16 are where this group got their mojo! We were across the fairway from where Tiger pitched up and past the hole. But we had a decent view of Molinari’s birdie putt that closed the match and gave the Europeans the first point of the day.
Afternoon Foursomes at The Ryder Cup
Afterward, we walked around one of the spectator areas near the 14th and decided we wanted to see some tee shots in the about to start Foursome matches. So, we made our way close to the 4th tee. We were about 50 yards down the fairway to the player’s right- and from this angle, it really looked like the tee shots would fly directly over our heads! The fourth is a long slight dogleg left par 4. Due to that dogleg though, the tee shots didn’t fly directly over. Besides, the ball moves so fast it wasn’t like I could see them anyway!
The Foursome matches mean though that there were only 2 tee shots per group as it is an alternate shot game. Once the players left the 3rd green, it was only a matter of a minute or so before they hit their 2 tee shots (almost) over our heads. So that wasn’t our best vantage point.
We then headed over to the short par 4 tenth, but by the time we got there, the crowd was already 10 deep! We found a spot on a small hill that gave us a pretty good view of the tee box. Here we saw Henrik Stenson, Fowler, Webb Simpson, and Rory hit their tee shots. Seriously, is there a more powerful-looking swing in golf than Rory’s?
The Ryder Cup Spectator Village
Afterward, we walked around a little bit and it started to get windy and the temperature really cooled down, not to mention that we were hungry! So, we decided to go to the Spectator Village area and went into the merchandise tents. I think we did pretty well though, as we only walked out with a flag, a ball mark, a program, and a jacket for Menekse. We don’t have a place to store much anymore!
We grabbed a couple of burgers and watched the last of the golf on the big screen. That was probably the most golf we had seen all day! We really didn’t see that much actual golf live. With only 4 matches and 16 players, it forces the crowds to be much more compact than at a “normal” golf tournament.
We hung out quite a while after the golf and then walked the course taking pictures, and finally had the place quite to ourselves. It was then that we saw the real reason why the Europeans won- the greenskeepers were busy raking the bunkers, mowing the grass around the greens, and putting water on the course- all while wearing the European flag!
Why is the Ryder Cup THE golf event?!
So, what is it that makes the Ryder Cup so special? The history of the matches is one thing- after all, I remember the War by the Shore, and that is now 27 years ago! The Ryder Cup also takes our solitary game and turns it into a team event. The match play vs stroke play is also unique. Now add playing for your country into the mix. But for us, it was the passion and spirit of the fans that made our day at the Ryder Cup so special. I might not always remember that putt on 17 that we saw Molinari drain to win the match, but I will never forget the passion of the fans.
Looking back, I wish we would have bought different tickets. We included a practice round when we went to the Open in 2017, and in reflection, we should have done the same here as well. Knowing what I know now, I would have bought tickets for a practice round as well as the Sunday round.
Le Golf National was visually stunning. It is stadium golf, which I’m not sure is my style to play, but it is a great venue to watch golf. Since it is a stadium, I would have to imagine that the players really heard and felt the cheers as well as the jeers of the fans coming down on top of them! As noisy as the fans were in Paris, I can’t help but imagine what the Ryder Cup would be with fans from a place like New York. Oh, what’s that you say- the Ryder Cup is at Bethpage in 2024? Make plans now, because we’re going!
Until then, I am certain that songs of “♪ Tommy, Tommy Tommy”, and “♪ three one and you f’ed it up, three one and you f’ed it up” will continue to ring in our heads!