Harrington says neutral course set-ups would be best for Ryder Cup


Padraig Harrington thinks that it would be "best to have a neutral set-up" at future Ryder Cups to stop the obvious home advantage

One of the noticeable factors in each Ryder Cup is the obvious home advantage each side has because of their vastly different approaches to course set-up, but it's something 2020 European Ryder Cup Captain Padraig Harrington wants to see come to an end. 

It's something players have come to expect from either side and home advantage has developed in to a very real thing, because Captain's have been able to have a big say in how they want the course to be that week, from the length of the rough to the speed of the greens.

The past two editions have provided an explicit example of this, and it ended up in two very lopsided results; In Hazeltine, the U.S side won by 17 points to 11 on a wide-open course with low cut rough while in France that was reversed as the European side claimed victory by 17.5 poins to 10.5 over Le Golf National, which featured slower greens, water and, tight, (thick) rough lined fairways. 

But in a press conference on Tuesday Harrington suggested that should change in order to protect the contest, calling for a 'neutral set-up', though he concedes it probably won't happen in his lifetime.

"Clearly in Europe, we get to set the golf course up and we set it up every way we can to suit our players," Harrington said. "And in the States, we've seen that, as well, where the golf courses are set up to be most advantageous for the home team.

"I think it's obviously not going to happen probably in my lifetime, but 40, 50 years down the road when the Ryder Cup is still going along, it will probably be best to have a neutral set-up where there is no setting up a golf course.

"Thankfully here at Whistling Straits, this is a much more natural golf course. I'm interested to see down the road what Steve [Stricker] has in store but doesn't look like you can do a lot with this golf course. This is a golf course that is just going to test the players on its own merits."

Harrington's comments come a day after Rory McIlroy clarified his own criticisms of being 'sick' of the easy course set-ups on the European Tour, having referenced the Ryder Cup as part of his reason for wanting them to get tougher. 

"I would personally like to see tougher set ups in Europe because it will produce better, more complete young players in the future and that can only be a good thing for the game and our Ryder Cup chances going forward," McIlroy had said.

Meanwhile, in his own press conference, Stricker said that there won't be many tricks to the set-up golf course as far as he's concerned.

"There are no real tricks," he said. "They know how we like to set up the golf courses and we know how they like to set up the golf courses, and you know, I'm sure what Padraig's got envisioned in his mind is going to be the way it's going to be.

"It's not going to be eight on the Stimpmeter like it was in Paris! It's not going to high rough as it was in Paris. There are no real tricks, but it is a little bit more of a challenge here. It's a links-style course, but I don't know if this is a true links-style course. A lot of this is still played through the air here.

"Some of the links-style that I've played on over the years overseas is you really bounce the ball up, you roll it up and you can flight it down low. Here, I think it's a little bit more in the air than it is overseas, personally thinking."