One phrase no European player will ever say to their teammates

With the European team, 'sorry' is never okay.

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HAVEN, Wis. — There may be no golfer alive today who understands the intricacies of the Ryder Cup as well as Tony Jacklin.

The European stalwart played in seven Cups and captained the team four times — including the iconic 1985 contest, where Europe toppled the United States team for the first time since 1957.

Jacklin has authored a new book about his Ryder Cup years (Tony Jacklin: My Ryder Cup Journey, which you can purchase on Amazon right here) and is on the ground this week at Whistling Straits. He shared with us one of the most important lessons he instilled in his European teams that continues to this day: Never apologize to your teammate during your round.

Never apologize for trying and failing

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It may sound like a small thing but it’s an important detail. Jacklin says apologizing sets a tone of negativity and highlights something that has already happened, rather than what could happen next. It can also make your partner feel like they need to make you feel better, he says, instead of focusing on the task at hand.

“The Ryder Cup, alternate shot, these are the toughest formats in the game.” he says. “We would agree to never tolerate saying sorry.”

It’s a tradition that lasts to this day on the European team, and in itself fosters a sense of teamwork. Ultimately, Jacklin says, your playing partner doesn’t want your apologies: He wants you to give everything you’ve got, and nothing more.

“It’s not a war. It’s about undertaking the task with a sense of togetherness and sportsmanship,” he says. “If you’re giving 110 percent, you’re not doing anything wrong.”

Luke Kerr-Dineen Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.