The 2025 Ryder Cup at Bethpage Could Be the Greatest—or the Worst—Event of All Time
The Ryder Cup has never been more tense, which is all sorts of fun until it isn’t. The 2025 event at Bethpage Black on Long Island could be the best, most exciting edition yet—but there is a real chance it will be a low point for both the Ryder Cup and the game of golf. Players and power brokers, be warned: This could get ugly.
The last major held at Bethpage Black, the 2019 PGA Championship, featured one of the nastier atmospheres I’ve ever seen at a major, with some fans unabashedly calling for leader Brooks Koepka to shank his shots down the stretch. Hundreds of fans acted in a fashion that would get them quickly escorted off the grounds at Augusta National—and, worse, they seemed to take pride in it.
I am not saying most fans behaved poorly. But too many did, in an overzealous attempt to combine the if-you-can-make-it-here ethos of New York with the famed Course of the People vibe at Bethpage Black. What will they do when players are competing for the Ryder Cup instead of the Wanamaker Trophy? Do we really want to find out?
The Ryder Cup is fun in part because it is so different. Fans have a rooting interest in every group on the course. They get loud about it. It can be jarring for the players, who are accustomed to fans cheering harder for some than others but generally cheering for everybody. All of this is fantastic.
Everybody is entitled to their own opinion on where the too-far line is. Mine comes down to this: Fans are welcome to affect the competitors but not the competition. Get in their heads, but not in their way.
Cheering a missed putt? Fair game. Chanting “O-le!” to support Europe? Go for it. Screaming “U-S-A!” at European players as they walk from one green to the next tee? You love to see it.
But yell during backswings or as players line up putts; make inappropriate comments to or about players’ spouses; or do anything to affect anybody’s lie, stance or ability to concentrate on a shot, and that’s a big problem.
McIlroy spends a lot of time thinking about what is right and standing up for those principles in public, admirable qualities that sometimes chafe his peers. So when LaCava stood in McIlroy’s line of sight, it was not surprising that McIlroy took exception, felt good about doing it and continued to do it. He seemed in no mood to make peace over the weekend, pointedly telling NBC twice that he had not met with LaCava on Sunday morning, despite a report that he had, then acknowledging later that they had texted.
But McIlroy and LaCava will surely be fine. They are reasonable, likable people who had a tense moment that most of the golf world happened to witness—and it’s a safe bet that they both understand that. It is inconceivable that either man is interested in a protracted feud over this.
The problem is that many of the people who show up at Bethpage in 2025 won’t follow all that. They might remember McIlroy getting into it with Mackay in the parking lot; that European fans heckled Cantlay for the hat report; and that McIlroy sorta promised victory in ’25: “I think one of the biggest accomplishments in golf right now is winning an away Ryder Cup. And that’s what we’re going to do at Bethpage.”
If fans at Bethpage don’t remember all that, they will be reminded of it.
And they will want to top it.
After all, New Yorkers love reminding the world that there is no place quite like New York. No crowd like a Yankee Stadium crowd. No stage like Broadway. No Ryder Cup like a Ryder Cup at Bethpage Black. (I say this as a native New Yorker who loves the place.)