BY LEE PACE
Consider the cacophony surrounding the biennial Ryder Cup Matches of the last three decades—galleries swelling to 45,000, a press building with desks for 400 writers, wall-to-wall television coverage, frayed nerves and guttural rally cries and bombastic fist pumps.
Sounds a little like a college football game.
In that context it’s most amusing to revisit the quaint little event held at Pinehurst nearly six decades ago.
“They said, ‘In North Carolina when Carolina plays Tennessee in a football game on Saturday, nobody watches golf.’ So they took the day off and we all went to the football game.” -Skip Alexander
The PGA of America brought the 1951 Ryder Cup to Pinehurst No. 2 for the ninth rendition of the event launched in 1927 and originally sponsored by English seed merchant and entrepreneur Samuel Ryder. There was a modest media delegation of some 30 correspondents, including at least three from London and three from Scotland.
And what’s most amazing is that the PGA scheduled a day off from competition on Saturday, Nov. 3, for golfers on both teams, VIPs and media to travel 70 miles north to Chapel Hill for the University of North Carolina vs. Tennessee football game, won 27-0 by the Volunteers.
“They said, ‘In North Carolina when Carolina plays Tennessee in a football game on Saturday, nobody watches golf,’” said Skip Alexander, a member of the U.S. team who was a star at Duke. “So they took the day off and we all went to the football game.”
Well, not everyone. American team captain Sam Snead said no thanks to the football, instead driving to Florence, S.C., for an exhibition.
Snead was not the only one left unimpressed.