Weighing four pounds and standing 17 inches tall, the actual Ryder Cup strolled into Hazeltine National Golf Club in the steady Minnesotan hands of the U.S. Olympic champion men's curling team.
"This," said team skip John Shuster, "is a pretty good example of how our lives have changed."
Hazeltine and the PGA of America used the recent Olympic champs as local flavor Tuesday morning while formally announcing last week's news that Hazeltine will become the first American venue to host two Ryder Cups when the biennial match-play competition with Europe returns in 2028.
"It's great to be back in Minnesota," said Paul Levy, president of the PGA of America. "Appreciate the cool temperatures. But what I love is you just can't wait for that snow to get off the ground so you can play some golf. This is a golf-crazy state."
And, thanks to Hazeltine's dogged commitment, it's also a state equipped to continue hosting major championships well beyond next year's KPMG Women's PGA and the 2028 Ryder Cup, said Kerry Haigh, chief championships officer of the PGA of America.
"It doesn't come easily," Haigh said. "You need the support. To come to a club that has a mission of hosting major championships is something we don't see at almost any other venue in the country. That's why it's special."
Hazeltine's strengths are the enduring test of its golf course and having more than enough space to handle the massive infrastructure needed to host a modern major golf event. The club's willingness to grow with the game has allowed it to host eight professional major championships since 1966, including the 2016 Ryder Cup, which was marked by perfect autumn weather, huge and boisterous crowds and a thrilling competition that ended an American slump.
When the PGA of America first teamed with Hazeltine, the course had to be lengthened to 7,360 yards for the 2002 PGA Championship. When that event returned only seven years later, Haigh set up a course that was 7,674 yards, still the fourth-longest in major championship golf.
With length not as much of a priority in a match-play format, Hazeltine played a little shorter at 7,628 yards for the 2016 Ryder Cup.
Will we see 8,000 yards at major championship venues by 2028?
"Who knows?" Haigh said. "I think the statistics certainly have shown that there is a gradual creep in length. U.S. Opens in the '20s were 4,500 yards, so it's not a new phenomenon. Erin Hills just set the record last year [7,741]."
Could Hazeltine play 8,000 yards a decade from now?
"You could add tees if you need to, but I'm not sure we necessarily would have to do that here," Haigh said. "There's plenty of length as it is, and it plays well with a nice mix of holes.
"But I know whatever may or may not happen with technology and the length of the golf ball, Hazeltine is prepared to do whatever is needed to adapt to major championship golf."
Fans purchasing 10 $100 weekly grounds tickets for the 2019 KPMG Women's PGA Championship will be guaranteed the opportunity to purchase two weeklong grounds tickets for the 2028 Ryder Cup, the PGA of America announced Tuesday. Those interested can register at kpmgwomenspga.com starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday.