Wait, why not Colt Knost for Ryder Cup vice captain?
When you’re dumb enough to be duped like I was yesterday, the first step is admitting it. The next is often to delete any proof you were duped. But the toothpaste was already out of this tube, and it was actually quite tasty.
Colt Knost posted on Instagram Monday morning what seemed like an acceptance of an assistant captain role for next year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team under Zach Johnson. Johnson was in the photo, as was the actual Ryder Cup trophy. If there was any giveaway, in hindsight, it was the use of the term “assistant.” Team USA has been calling the captain’s underlings “vice captains” for years now.
It all seemed legit, particularly in absence of any playful language or emojis from Knost, and it got the people going on social media. There was positivity, cheering on a beloved broadcaster for his success, and also plenty of negativity, calling into question Knost’s credentials. Knost eventually joined in the fun on Twitter, asking everyone to “relax!!!” But based on the recent replies to the post, many followers still think it’s legit.
Yes, that makes me feel better. Thanks for asking! But in response to getting duped, rather than delete the topic from ever existing, I’m instead here to ask the obvious follow-up: Why not Knost?
What if he was being serious? Would Colt Knost, Ryder Cup Vice Captain be such a bad thing?
(Now is the appropriate time to disclose that, yes, Knost hosts a podcast for GOLF.com, the website on which you’re reading this article. He’s also friendly with me, but not so much that I could tell when he was joking.)
Despite his Tour career fading to a close years ago, Knost is as connected to the modern crop of American players as anyone in the game. It benefits his new gig as an on-course reporter for CBS Sports, but could also greatly benefit the team room. He’s been as close to Scottie Scheffler’s rise as anyone not on Scheffler’s payroll. He’s long competed against Justin Thomas and Max Homa and Jordan Spieth in money games. He might be asking for strokes off them these days, but he knows pretty well what makes them tick. He knows what makes them upset. He knows that about Jon Rahm, too, which could always come in handy.
He also knows when to back off and let the best in the world do their thing. Steve Stricker’s motto during last year’s Cup was to roll out the best players in the world — perhaps the greatest team of players ever assembled — and just let them play golf. Knost would do that. He wouldn’t mettle. He plays the role of punching bag as well as he does that of needler. Couldn’t you see him supervising a pod of Spieth, Thomas, Scheffler and Homa?
Social-media commenters were quick to point out Knost never played in a Ryder Cup. But he did claim three points during a victorious Walker Cup for Team USA back in 2007. That could be worth something, or absolutely nothing at all. But do we need an extensive resume of Ryder Cup matches out of the fifth vice captain? It may be better to have someone more willing to help when needed and fade into the background when not needed.
Vice captains play the role of babysitter more times than not. They drive golf carts to and from photoshoots. They hover on the practice range, just like Knost does week-in, week-out in his role as an on-course analyst. At last year’s Cup, Henrik Stenson’s vice-captain duties were plenty, but also include the menial chores of shepherding players to press conferences, keeping them on time, even fetching a case of the European team’s favorite bottle of wine after the day’s matches came to an end. (Wine-fetching may be as important as any job at next year’s Cup, in Rome. Chianti for Cantlay? Coming right up!) It’s not the most esteemed position, but you needn’t be a Tour winner to do it well.
Ryder Cup teams have long leaned on these ceremonial appointments, offering former Cuppers the right to do all sorts of toting as an apprenticeship for the big job one day. It will no doubt happen again, especially with Phil Mickelson suddenly out of the picture, Tiger Woods unable to move around easily and the precedent Stricker set of employing five American VCs.
But there are only so many spots you can fill with up-and-coming past champions and Ryder Cup heroes. There might be room for the kinda guy who can shove Michael Jordan aside when needed, and who already spends 15 weeks inside the ropes, close-but-not-too-close to the action.
Knost was kidding, but there have been worse ideas.