It wasn’t until 1987 that the Euros won the Ryder Cup in the United States for the first time at Muirfield Village, following the example of the pioneering Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cuppers who won at Prairie Dunes in1986, the first international team of golfers, amateur or professional, men or women, to win on US soil. The Walker Cuppers added Peachtree to the list and now only the European Solheim Cup team are out in the cold, winless away.
Europe, defeated handily in fortress Sweden two years ago, were given no chance in America’s Midwest and fans decked out in red, white and blue – or in one case some sort of sludgy green as a rather mildewed Statue of Liberty – poured into Rich Harvest Farms, keen to see this ultra exclusive, little played course and cheer their golfing gals to victory. At the first tee they have outchanted and outsung the valiant but reedy Euros, who must make sure they have a few lusty Irish tenors on duty at Killeen Castle in 2011. Subtlety has no place in the chanting business and URUP is no match for U S A. Ole, ole, ole is about the best we can manage but if the chanters number in the dozens rather than the thousands the only way to win that unequal battle is to shut up the opposition altogether.
In that respect Rich Harvest Farms, a course that was not designed with spectators in mind, almost helps the Europeans. It is very long and spread out and there are some far flung holes where only the most intrepid venture, notably the 6th, 8th, 9th and 11th, where the green is so far from the 12th tee that the players are ferried there on buggies. The atmosphere is a little more muted because of that but there is a noisy corner, not quite Amen Corner of Augusta National fame but a gathering place nonetheless, the area where the 12th green, the par three 13th and the 14th are clustered close together and there is a concession stand, a scoreboard and a big screen (with not enough chairs for those who’ve made the trek and could do with a sit down). It is a magnet for fans and Cristie Kerr, the US No 1, pinpointed it as a bit of a cauldron, where the Europeans might be boiled and beaten.