How Ryder Cup players’ drinking habits have changed, says ex-captain

Much has changed in the golf world over the past two years, thanks to the feud-turned-merger between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. But the pro game is completely unrecognizable to what it was like 15 years ago. At least that’s the opinion of former European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley.

Appearing on Golf Channel’s “GOLF Today,” McGinley dished on his view of the current Ryder Cup landscape with hosts Damon Hack and Eamon Lynch.

His primary contention? Pro golf isn’t “fun” anymore. One sign of that decline in McGinley’s eyes is the lack of alcohol consumption among teammates at the Ryder Cup.

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“Back in our day, there was quite a bit of alcohol consumed,” McGinley said, “even during Ryder Cups.”

The example he used was his own experience as a vice captain at the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Wales. That year, the European team walloped the Americans over the first four sessions of the competition and headed into the final singles matches with a three-point lead.

According to McGinley, he and his fellow European team members and staff downed an impressive volume of wine the night before the singles matches.

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

“It’s not like we were getting drunk every night — far from it,” McGinley continued. “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.”

When McGinley took over the captain role in 2014, he noticed a change among the pros.

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“I was amazed even when I was captain in 2014, nobody drank. I mean, nobody,” McGinley said. “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.'”

The 56-year-old with four-career DP World Tour wins suggested that the lack of alcohol consumption, in addition to the fact that pros don’t travel together as they used to and make many millions of dollars more on the course, have combined to drastically reduce “camaraderie” among the players, implying that the change has negatively impacted the European team’s success in the Ryder Cup.

Although, if we take the 2010 event as an example, as McGinley did, the facts suggest that the European team’s early celebration did not help them on the course. After starting the final session with a three-point lead, the Europeans watched as the Americans made a furious charge in singles matches.

While Team Europe still prevailed, their winning margin was sliced from three to one, with Europe reclaiming the Ryder Cup, 14.5 to 13.5.

With McGinley in the captain’s chair at the 2014 Ryder Cup (and far less booze downed), Europe trounced the U.S. 16.5-11.5.

Kevin Cunningham

Kevin Cunningham Editor

As managing producer for, Cunningham edits, writes and publishes stories on, and manages the brand’s e-newsletters, which reach more than 1.4 million subscribers each month. A former two-time intern, he also helps keep humming outside the news-breaking stories and service content provided by our reporters and writers, and works with the tech team in the development of new products and innovative ways to deliver an engaging site to our audience.