Banning Twitter at Ryder Cup is a big mistake

Tuesday September 28th, 2010
Ian Poulter Tweeted this photo of himself of the range at Celtic Manor on Sunday.
Ian Poulter

More than 2.2 million people just got their Ryder Cup tickets yanked.

That's how many combined followers Stewart Cink and Ian Poulter have on Twitter. Thanks to a captains' ban on using the social media service during this week's competition, neither will be passing along his personal insights, photos or musing from Celtic Manor. And neither will be answering questions from you, the fans.

I learned about the ban from the place where I get a lot of my news, Twitter. Around 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Zach Johnson told his 15,306 Twitter followers: "I have an unfortunate bit of news...I will not be able to tweet across the pond in Wales...capt's orders! Sorry. I appreciate the support!"

Moments later he added, "I know it's hard to believe, but yes @RickieFowlerPGA and @bubbawatson will not be able to tweet either! Nor @stewartcink!"

Pavin, who has 10,950 followers of his own, was quoted by the AP as saying, "[Twitter] can be a little distracting sometimes."

True, it's easy to get caught up in social media networks and lose track of things that are important, but Pavin's explanation is an insult to his team. By banning Twitter, Pavin and Montgomerie are essentially saying they don't trust their players to show good judgment or restraint. As if the men who have worked so hard over the past two years to get a spot on these teams won't know when to leave their BlackBerrys and iPhones alone.

With practice, dinners, matches and ceremonies, it's not as if the players will even have much downtime to reach for their mobile phones.

Montgomerie said, "We feel that Tweeting and Facebook and all of these social sites ... can get one's self into trouble."

Does Monty think that Rory McIlroy is going to slip and tell his 9,628 followers some super-secret European Team strategies? Is the captain worried that Graeme McDowell is going to spill the beans and tell his 16,408 followers about who said something mean about the Americans in the European locker room?

Fowler-Johnson-Watson Twitter has given many Ryder Cup players a chance to show just how passionate they are about the event. Poulter has sent his followers photos of his Ryder Cup ball markers, tees and pencils, and golf bag. McDowell Tweeted Monday morning, before arriving at Celtic Manor, "It's the small things that get you excited. My player badge for the week. Team gear looks pretty cool. Bring it on," and included a photo. And Bubba Watson's final Tweet, made from the U.S. team's chartered plane before takeoff, was a re-tweet of a message from teammate Rickie Fowler, "IT'S GO TIME!!! GO USA!!!" and included a picture of the two, along with Dustin Johnson. (right)

Using Twitter or Facebook for 15-20 minutes a day would leave plenty of time to focus on the event while also giving players a chance to answer a few questions from fans, explain decisions and offer insight into the matches. The players would have been bringing their fans inside the ropes, if only a little.

Banning Twitter and other social media outlets is simply a way for the captains to maintain total control over what information is made known to the media and golf fans. They don't want us behind closed doors. I get it, and agree we shouldn't be there most of the time, but leaving that door open just a little would go a long way in helping to enhance the Ryder Cup for a lot of 21st century golf fans.

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