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Paul McGinley: Today’s professional golfers aren’t as fun, drink less alcohol

Team Europe must find 'balance' at 2023 Ryder Cup
Former 2014 European Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley gives his reactions to the European roster selections for the 2023 Ryder Cup.

Are today’s professional golfers as fun as years past?

“Probably not, to be fair,” Paul McGinley said Monday on “Golf Today”.

The 2014 European Ryder Cup captain offered a few reasons why players in the modern game may be more reserved.

Firstly, money.

“Is golf as fun as it was 15 years ago? I think they’re making three times the money we were making,” he said. “But the comradery we had in the game back then — and maybe it’s because we weren’t playing for as much money as they are now and we weren’t flying around everywhere in our private jets and there wasn’t 50 Netjets sitting at the airport to take players home every night.”

McGinley, a 56-year-old Irishman who began playing professionally in 1991, said that during his days on Tour, 50-70 players would all travel on the same flights and stay in the same hotels. But now, due to increased purse sizes in today’s game, many are flying private and staying in rental homes during tournament weeks.

However, there’s another reason why players today are more restrained.

“Also, the world has changed a bit, too,” he said. “Back in our day, there was quite a bit of alcohol consumed ... even during Ryder Cups. I was amazed even when I was captain in 2014, nobody drank. I mean, nobody. I wasn’t like, ‘It’s a Ryder Cup I’m not going to drink.’ It was a case of, ‘No, I’m not drinking, I don’t drink when I play. It’s not even a question.’”

That wasn’t always the case, though. When McGinley was a vice-captain for the winning European squad at Oakland Hills in 2010, the team had a large lead heading into Sunday — and the wine was going down easily even before they notched the victory on Sunday.

“I remember one of the backroom staff telling us on a Saturday night ... we had consumed 72 bottles of wine already on Saturday night — and they had to go and re-order,” McGinley said.

“It’s not like we were getting drunk every night — far from it. But everyone would have had one, two, maybe three glasses of wine at night and it was normal. And nine, 10 out of the 12 players would do that.”

But the times are different now.

“Obviously, it’s a changed atmosphere now on the course, and when there’s alcohol involved, there’s always a bit more crack involved,” McGinley said.

But whichever Ryder Cup team emerges victorious next month in Rome, Italy, there will surely be alcohol involved during the post-victory celebration.

That will likely never change.