Scouts from Hazeltine at Ryder Cup thinking big

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 28, 2012 - 9:46 PM

The chairman of the 2016 Ryder Cup gleaned some perspective from European great Tony Jacklin.

MEDINAH, ILL. - They stood by the clubhouse at Medinah Country Club, listening to the massive crowd roaring, anticipating all of that noise and all of those bodies filling the grounds of Hazeltine National.

In 2016, Hazeltine will host the next Ryder Cup to be played on American soil. Friday, Patrick Hunt, chairman of the 2016 Ryder Cup, walked the grounds at Medinah wearing his Hazeltine sweater, and listened to the stories of a man uniquely qualified to imagine what a Minnesota Ryder Cup will look like.

"I think it's going to be spectacular," Tony Jacklin said.

Jacklin won the U.S. Open at Hazeltine in 1970. He visits Hazeltine occasionally, often in conjunctions with trips to the Mayo Clinic.

Jacklin is also the man credited with turning the European team into the force it has become in the Ryder Cup.

Before Jacklin became team captain in 1983, the Euros traveled in coach class and wore threadbare outfits. When asked to become a captain, Jacklin insisted that the team fly on the Concorde. "We had great players," he said. "Their self-esteem was being downgraded by traveling economy, in the back of the bus, wearing anything anybody would give us.

"I remember the sole of my shoe coming off. The shoes were bloody messes. It was embarrassing. You're halfway around the course and your shoe falls apart."

Jacklin barely recognizes the modern Ryder Cup. Hunt hopes Hazeltine will mark the next step in the event's progression from odd exhibition to worldwide phenomenon.

"When Minnesotans think about what the Ryder Cup is going to be like, they should think about as big as they can," Hunt said. "And then multiply by 100.

"There are 25 of these that happen in this country every 100 years. I'm pretty confident in saying that ours will be the last Ryder Cup we'll see in the state of Minnesota in our lifetimes. That's a pretty significant moment in all of our golf lives."

Hunt served on the executive committees for the 2002 and 2009 PGA Championships at Hazeltine, which has the benefit of plenty of extra land for parking and infrastructure. He's spending the week at Medinah to comprehend how different a Ryder Cup will be.

He has discovered, for example, that the Europeans need a smoking area. "There's the bigness of the Ryder Cup, and the smallness of the size of the teams," he said. "You have more people watching fewer people, which creates a completely different dynamic."

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