GLENEAGLES, Scotland -- If opening tee shots set the tone for a Ryder Cup, here’s how this one is going to go:
Big and loud.
Thousands of fans packed the chilly first tee grandstands before daybreak and belted out patriotic songs and chants long before the pros arrived to start the fourball matches. When the players finally made their entrances in hats and gloves, fans were lined 10-deep along the first fairway.
They saw one of the greatest shows in golf.
As Webb Simpson took a final warm-up cut before striking the opening shot of this 40th Ryder Cup, Ivor Robson, who also handles first tee introductions at all British Opens, announced into the microphone, “Now on the tee from the United States…Bubba Watson!” Robson had missed the memo that Simpson, not Watson, would lead his group. Simpson laughed along with the crowd, but the misstep may have short-circuited his nerves: he sky-balled his shot no more than 200 yards. Welcome to the Ryder Cup.
Watson stepped up next and revved up the crowd to cheer during his swing, as he did at the ’12 Cup at Medinah. Fans were quick to accommodate, and a quick check at the decibel meter (there’s an app for that!) saw the roars register a cool 98 dbA, roughly the sound of an oncoming subway train, as Watson struck his opening shot.
It would get louder.
Fans were led by a vociferous -- and creative -- 8-man group directly behind the tee dressed in matching blue and yellow costumes, and they had personalized songs for every European player. For the second group, they sang “Kaymer, Kaymer, Kaymer-Chameleon” at the reigning U.S. Open champ. As Patrick Reed prepared to tee off to start that match, one patron hollered, “Now on the tee….Bubba Watson!”
The spectacle became even more absurd when a young fawn pranced across the first fairway and darted up near the tee before galloping away. Fans did not have a customized chant for the deer, perhaps their only lapse of the morning.
Ian Poulter entered the arena with a raised fist (his song from the crowd: “Walking in a Poulter Wonderland”) alongside Stephen Gallacher (“Glory, Glory Stevie Gallacher”). The crowds, of course, love Poulter, who’s 12-3-0 in this event. When he was introduced, the decibel level cracked 100.
The final match of the morning was the session’s main event: Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia vs. Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley. When the Europeans were introduced, the noise peaked at 108 dbA, the equivalent of a power saw, according to a loudness comparison chart. All I know is that when 10,000 fans scream in unison for their team, it’s as loud as anything in golf.
The Ryder Cup is here, and the fans are bringing it. Turn up the volume and enjoy.