They gathered lakeside Saturday in a heated tent that overlooked Hazeltine National Golf Club’s distinctive 16th hole and breakfasted beginning at a breathtaking dawn to celebrate Ryder Cups past, present and future.
Far away in France, this year’s U.S. team never joined the party.
Two years ago this week, the sun shone and roars reverberated — cash registers chimed, too — across Hazeltine National in a very successful Ryder Cup won by the Americans over Europe for the first time in eight years.
On Saturday, club members came and went all morning, remembering fondly a Ryder Cup brought to Chaska for the first time in September 2016 and perhaps peering far ahead to when it returns in 2028. It will be the first U.S. course to hold the biennial, three-day event twice.
“It’s hard to believe it was two years ago,” said Hazeltine National member Jim Dauwalter, who is also the club’s championship committee chairman. “In some ways, it seems like yesterday, and in other ways, it seems like a lifetime ago.”
In Paris, the U.S. team struggled Saturday for a second consecutive day, falling way behind to Europe, 10-6, after another two sessions of two-man pairings. The Americans will need to win eight of Sunday’s 12 singles matches to bring the Ryder Cup home from Europe for the first time since 1993.
“Jeepers,” Dauwalter said after he watched from an ocean away an American player hit the ball sideways into deep trouble.
Saturday at Hazeltine National was as much about celebrating what was two years ago as following with two large-screen televisions what is this weekend in Paris.
Workers erected a large tent where a greenside grandstand stood in 2016 and furnished it with leather couches, tables and chairs, Ryder Cup bunting and a stand that displayed a replica Ryder Cup and the authentic KPMG Women’s PGA trophy for which LPGA golfers will compete at Hazeltine National next summer.
Members dined Saturday — and will do so again Sunday morning — on wood-fired breakfast pizzas, soufflé and fresh fruit and sipped a Bloody Mary or two during a weekend that commemorates the two-year anniversary. Members these three days will play the reconfigured Ryder Cup layout, which swapped some holes on each of the course’s two nines and turned the 16th hole that wraps around Hazeltine Lake into the seventh hole.
A huge American flag has been unfurled down the clubhouse’s towering chimney, just like it was when the U.S. team clinched victory late on that Sunday afternoon in 2016. About a dozen members traveled to Paris for the weekend.
“You have to do it,” Hazeltine National General Manager Eric Rule said about the efforts made at home to remember when. “It’s a good time to look back and think about what everybody did.”