Just a thought column — Red, white and blue the colors of choice at Ryder Cup in Louisville
Posted: Friday, September 26, 2008 9:52 pm
It was a sight to behold.
There were leprechauns, matadors, court jesters and scores of others with painted faces traipsing around.
The celebratory atmosphere was befitting a masquerade ball or some type of carnival or circus.
So what brought all these colorful people together? The 37th Ryder Cup — a biennial golf match that pits a team from the United States against one from Europe.
Every four years, the matches are played in the U.S. and this year, fortunately, they were held in Louisville, Ky., which is only about four hours from Obion County.
While the event attracted visitors from all over Europe who were quite vocal in their support of their players, the predominately red, white and blue crowd often drowned them out with chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A.”
I realize it’s “just golf,” but the show of patriotism brought out goosebumps on my arms.
As I pointed out earlier, the event attracted a diverse crowd — even drawing celebrities who showed their support of the U.S. team.
I hate to be a name dropper, but I actually walked up the 18th hole with basketball great Michael Jordan who, by the way, is my age and height and was formerly in my same weight class.
Some may think it is important to point out that he was inside the ropes with the golfers while I was on the outside with the thousands of other common fans, but I disagree.
Some just want to take away from my brush with greatness.
In fact, a friend of mine who attended the Ryder Cup with me, local business owner Darrin Parks, barely let me enjoy the moment before he attempted to top my story.
“That’s pretty cool,” he said. “But just a little while ago, I was walking along this cart path and four golf carts were coming through. As they were passing by, I put my hand out and said, ‘Hey, Mr. Bush,’ and then President Bush (the elder) gave me a high five.”
As he was reliving the moment, he began questioning his presidential etiquette and whether he should have addressed him as “President Bush” instead of “Mr. Bush.”
I, on the other hand, was left mumbling about my stroll with the greatest basketball player of all time while also wondering why the Secret Service didn’t pounce on my friend for topping my Michael Jordan story so convincingly.
Like President Bush or not (or like his son or not), I’ll have to admit that was a pretty impressive moment to share with the former president of the United States. And while some sports fans or Democrats may disagree, it kind of trumps my walk with Jordan, inside the ropes or not.
As it turns out, I didn’t even have the best Michael Jordan story of the weekend. It seems that two others from Union City who attended the Ryder Cup sat with “His Airness” in NBC’s corporate tent.
Back out among the common folks on the course, I felt as though I fit in again — until I overheard a group talking about ticket prices.
Knowing the Ryder Cup would be a big-time event and that tickets would be scarce at best, I opted to purchase my ticket in advance from a Nashville entrepreneur who charged me face value, plus a little extra to make it worth his while.
Little did I know, and now wish I didn’t, but these people having the on-course chat got a better deal just by buying their tickets on the streets outside the event.
“I got mine for 20 bucks and they gave me this protective sleeve with it so I can wear it around my neck,” one said.
“They were practically giving them away,” another responded with a laugh.
“Well good for you,” was my response. “I paid face value plus a lot of shipping and handling charges and now I’m going to buy myself a sandwich and a beverage for the same price you paid to get in.”
As I walked away, I could hear them laughing and high-fiving each other.
That’s OK, I thought, because one of my friends high-fived the former president of the United States, two other friends hung out with Michael Jordan and got free food and drinks courtesy of NBC and all I got was a stupid Ryder Cup shirt. Oh yeah, and I got to watch the United States defeat the Europeans in the Ryder Cup for the first time in almost a decade.
So was it worth it? You bet. Go USA.
David Critchlow Jr. may be reached by e-mail at dgc@uc messenger.com.