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Funbag

The Ryder Cup Is The Only Good Form Of Team Golf

1:02 PM EDT on August 22, 2023

Golfer Scottie Scheffler, mid-swing, with a Funbag badge at the end of his club.
Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we're talking about bad tattoos, death, the Tuohy family, and more.

Your letters:

Jamie:

Is the Ryder Cup the most overhyped event in sports? Like any good dad I watch the required amount of golf and actually enjoy the major tournaments despite knowing that professional golfers, fans, sponsors, etc. are all generally assholes. Ryder Cup promotion is presented like it is the Super Bowl and World Cup rolled into one. No young golfer goes to bed at night dreaming of someday defeating Europe. We all know that any golfer participating in this event HATES their fellow teammates. The manufactured importance of naming the Ryder Cup captains makes me fill with rage because it is an utterly worthless position. This all strikes me as an event to let golfers and fans be dickheads out in the open. I have yet to talk to a serious golf fan who can properly explain how the Ryder Cup works and why anyone should give a shit.

HOLY SHIT THE RYDER CUP IS THIS YEAR! I’d like to thank Jamie here for the reminder, even if he didn’t intend it like that. Anyway, I love the Ryder Cup. It’s the only time I’ll ever pay attention to team golf. Any other form of it—LIV, some manufactured primetime match between James Harden and Daryl Morey called The Battle Of Blowing Rock—is a waste of time. But you get a dozen cocky American golfers who all hate each other to throw down with a dozen Eurotrash golfers whom they hate even more? MANGIA. That’s my shit.

None of these guys are playing for money. No no no, it’s way more selfish than that. All of them think that they’ll get a fucking burial at Arlington if they embarrass Colin Montgomerie on the 18th. It’s golf with the mask all the way off, and that’s what makes the Ryder Cup so compelling to me. The nationalism is just an excuse for these guys to puff themselves up, and that’s why they play their asses off. And really, that’s all I want out of a sporting event. I want my athletes to care. That’s why the Ryder Cup makes for incredible television. Ask anyone who was there (watching on TV) in 1999!

Captain Ben Crenshaw called that shit! I’m not being jokey here. The ’99 Ryder Cup kicked ass. I’ll gladly watch this event every time it comes around. And if you dislike it, it’s easier to avoid than Jamie makes it out to be. I know because I had no clue it was coming up until today, and now I am pumped.

Larry:

Which Defector staff member has the worst tattoo?

That is a loaded question. I’d get my ass handed to me if I dared to answer it. The good news is that I can’t answer it, because I have no idea what tattoos everyone staff has. I know Albert has a frog somewhere on him, but that’s about it. And of course, I have a tattoo of a spiderweb on my scrotum, but my own ink doesn’t count.

I don’t know if I’m an outlier here or not, but I never look at people’s tattoos closely. I can see the ink, obviously. My brain registers that I am looking at a tattooed person. But I don’t go examining those tats after the fact. People might think I’m staring. That I’m a big pervert. More important, I’m not interested enough to look. I’ve seen so many athletes and artists and people on the street with tattoos that they all blend together for me. Every tattoo is a tattoo. When I see people with a lot of them, my only thought is Oh shit, that had to hurt.

This is probably because I’m on the wrong side of the generational divide. I have lived through the normalization of tattoos, but never picked up any affinity for them. I have no tattoos of my own—save for the spiderweb, of course—so I don’t spot another person’s tattoo and suddenly become rapt. I don’t judge people for having ink, unless it’s a tattoo of a Vikings logo, in which case SKOL. But I’m not so much of a connoisseur that I inquire past a first glance. If you have a tattoo, you’re probably way more into that tattoo and its meaning than anyone else is, which is fine because it’s your body and you can do whatever you please with it. The inked and uninked can live together in polite harmony, and they will.

But I’m skirting the question. Here’s the truth: Tom Ley and Barry Petchesky have each other’s faces tattooed on their own faces, and I find that disturbing.

Dan:

If you’re the president, do you show up for all the Hall of Fame ceremonies?

Fuck no. I don’t even watch that shit on television. You know how boring those speeches are? Every Hall of Fame speech fits into a distinct category:

  • Oscar speech with no music to cut it off
  • Motivational speech. HERE’S WHAT YOU GOTTA DO IF YOU WANNA REACH THE TOP LIKE ME
  • Kids today don’t appreciate nothin’!
  • Tearful tribute to some asshole coach who is now dead
  • Standard banquet speech that includes five scorching hot minutes attacking the league and/or the political establishment; worth watching in clip form on Twitter
  • Inductee is already a broadcaster and cherishes having 20 minutes to himself without the play-by-play guy interrupting him
  • Let’s Remember Some Plays I Made! All 3,000 Of Them!

Plus you gotta deal with, like, Jerry Jones and/or Chris Berman introducing all of these guys? Get the fuck out. If I’m president, I’m not sitting through any of that. Instead, I’m waging a government takeover of all Halls of Fame and inducting who I want, when I want. There will be no formal induction ceremony. All honorees get their jackets in the mail, plus a free pie.

Jason:

Do you think that loss comes in waves where you lose multiple family members or friends in a short period of time? Or are some of us just extra unlucky? I lost my mom in May of 2017 and my father barely a month later that same June. I've probably never really recovered from that. Since then, I've lost two close aunts, plus a best friend to suicide. My mind can't help but notice that when I lose someone, another one soon follows. I've never even figured out how to properly grieve any of these events. I guess I don't really have an actual question besides what the fuck do we do when these things happen, and why do they seem so happen so frequently?

The nature of death means that it will occur frequently, and often at random. Mother Nature isn’t gonna stagger deaths at even intervals to help you out, and the existence of generations means that you have clusters of loved ones—in Jason's case, his parents and aunts—who are close in age, which means that they’re statistically likely to pass away within years, even months, of one another.

None of this is easy to process. You’ll spend the rest of your lifetime doing so. But you can recover to a certain degree by talking about your losses with a professional, or with a close friend, or with God if you’re a religious person. You won’t recover if you try to process the grief all by yourself, because that just isn’t how people are made. You need help. We all do.

I’ve had two friends die within the past two years, and I myself don’t know if I’ve grieved for them properly. This sounds extremely shallow, but what I’ve noticed is how WEIRD it is. My friends weren’t old when they died. I just saw them. They were just here. I figured we had a shitload more barbecues to go. I took them being here for granted, because life invited me to do so. Now they’re gone, but it doesn’t quite feel that way. They’re phantoms, well within my mind’s eyesight but forever unreachable. And that, I suppose, is a gift. You don’t want the people you love to leave you, and they don’t. Some days that will feel like a burden: a constant reminder of loss. But eventually it’ll be a pleasant reminder of what you once had, with a friendly spirit walking alongside you. As long as you live, they will too.

All of that probably sounds like some shit you’d read on a commemorative throw pillow, so I’m sorry if it’s of little succor to you, Jason. I’m guessing that this is one of those times when our commenters have more to offer you than I do. I’m real good at talking about MY near-death. But the demise of others renders me a common fool.

Mark:

On a scale of zero to not even a little bit, how surprised are you that Michael Oher now contends the Tuohys are actually quite selfish and cunning…?

Fun fact: I never read The Blind Side or saw the movie, so everything I know about Michael Oher’s story comes from press releases and broadcasters talking about it. That means—surprise!—that I figured the story was credible, especially since it had the imprimatur of Michael Lewis behind it. This is because I am, at heart, gullible. A con man’s dream. I’d rather trust people than not, which means I’m the kind of dupe who will take someone at their word, be told not to, and then insist, “No no, I believe them!” My bullshit detector may as well not exist. I’m a journalist, by the way.

So when Oher piped up about the Tuohys, I was surprised. I was like, “You mean Sandra Bullock is a dick?” Ten seconds of processing it later and I was like yeah OK these people are probably dogshit. But for the past decade and change? I figured it was all copacetic and never gave it a second thought. Again, I am a journalist.

Josh:

I hate that it's always election season, and every election makes me more anxious than the last. There's a very real chance that Biden could win the popular vote and lose the election, since the system is so broken. My question is, what is our best hope for avoiding that? How do you see it shaking out?

First of all, I get election fatigue just like you do. It gets REALLY fucking old. But if we didn’t have elections all the time, that would mean we’re living in a dictatorship, which is worse. So I can deal.

Secondly, don’t get sucked into a negative feedback loop on this shit. Everything Is So Bad Now! is the lowest form of discourse, and it’s everywhere online. You’ve seen that centrist rally tweet out in the wild many times, but everyone who retweets that gag is projecting. They’re the ones who believe that better things aren’t possible, because of the centrists, and the electoral college, and the Senate, and the Supreme Court, and supposed late-stage capitalism.

If you believe that this is true, you’re failing to acknowledge what progress has already been made throughout human history, and you’re discounting the possibility that there can be more of that progress. You are taking the worst things happening right now as the only things happening. This is loser shit, and I won’t have it. Bring me solutions, not problems. Set goals, make a plan, and fight. That’s what our best and most effective progressive leaders are doing as we speak. They’re not fucking boohooing their way to the grave.

Now I’m gonna tell you the deal with next year, but I’m not gonna headline this column with it because then the Jinx Police will see it and flood me with their bullshit. If Donald Trump is the nominee in 2024, he will lose. I know I was wrong about that in 2016, but so was everyone else. If you’re still scarred by his victory, I understand. But we have more than flawed polls to go by this time around. Trump lost the 2020 election decisively, and the 2022 midterms were an even greater, nationwide rejection of his governing philosophy. No amount of election fuckery prevented it. And none of the other current GOP nominees, Ron DeSantis included, have been able to get that party’s base excited, which means they have even less crossover appeal for the general than Trump himself. Maybe Republicans win the Senate. Maybe SCOTUS does more awful shit to negate all of these electoral losses. In fact, the latter is a certainty. But in the aggregate, the country is growing more progressive, and that should hearten you. Don’t be afraid to be confident. The bad guys want you to be scared. To be fatalist. Don’t give them the pleasure. Picture yourself winning, without compromise, and see what happens.

And if you wanna BUT all of that—if you insist that everyone feel despondent about everything—then fuck off. Go waste someone else’s time.  

HALFTIME!

Patrick:

I live just outside of Toronto, and I've always wondered: How does the typical American sports fan view the Canadian teams in baseball (Blue Jays) and basketball (Raptors)? There's this constant narrative up here that the American networks don't like us (for obvious reasons), but does the regular fan have any ill will toward those teams? Or do they even register in your sports fandom? In classic Canadian fashion, we tend to have an inferiority complex when it comes to North American sports. 

I treat the Canadian teams just like the small market American teams, in that I only notice them when they win stuff. I disliked the Blue Jays back when they won back-to-back World Series, but that was because I loved the John Kruk Phillies and was rooting for them. By contrast, I very much enjoyed watching the Raptors go on their 2019 title run, especially when Kawhi put the Sixers to bed with The Shot. I wasn’t rooting for Philly in that game, I promise you.

But when those teams are out of contention, I forget them the same way I forget about all of the other non-teams like the Diamondbacks, the Pacers, and the Kissimmee Sand Jackals, who are a real franchise. So I harbor no lasting ill will toward the Canadian pro teams.

But please Patrick, do NOT tell your Canadian friends that. Tell them that all of us down here fucking loathe these dipshit teams. In fact, we only hire league commissioners based on whether or not they’ll rig every game and every draft lottery to fuck Canada good. And you know why we do this, Canada? Because we can. Deal with it. MWAHAHAHAHA.

Ben:

What's the smallest amount of money you would be genuinely excited to find/luck into? In college, working part-time jobs and perpetually broke, finding even a $10 bill somewhere unexpected made my week. Now as a dad in my mid-thirties working a white-collar job, I don't feel like even finding a fifty in the wash or whatever would move the needle too much. All of our money goes toward the mortgage/car, bills, food, diapers, clothes, gas, etc. I feel like that money would just be deposited at the bank and disappear into business as usual. And while I'm certainly not rich, I'm making enough money that when I occasionally treat myself to a meal out, a video game, some golf shit, etc., it's not that big of a deal. Am I just an out-of-touch rich asshole? 

Not necessarily, although I am also probably an out-of-touch rich asshole. But everyone out there has bills to pay, which makes money less exciting than when you’re young. When you’re a little kid, you get to spend money on anything you want: candy, toys, paying some other kid to eat used gum off the floor of the school bus, etc. You have no obligation to use that money for anything vital. That’s when money is exciting. Then you get old and suddenly you have to earmark all of your money for responsible shit, and any frivolous purchase you make comes with a little voice nagging at you, Can I really afford this? That dulls the buzz.

That said, I still know the value of a dollar. So if I ever find a $20 bill laying around (it happened once!), I’m elated. I can add that dough to the checking account and have it melt into the rest, but I don’t HAVE to. I can go spend it on stupid shit and not have it dent the budget. Just knowing that fact is satisfying on its own, no matter what I end up doing with my $20. The dad in me likes himself a free lunch.

Kyle:

My wife and I have a week’s vacation this month. We’ve managed to send our teenage daughter off with my mom to a cottage for the week, and we’ve started discussing putting together a last-minute road trip for the week. If you had to choose, what do you think would make a good destination on short notice with minimal planning beyond hotels? We had our kid pretty young, so our travel experience is limited. We live in Southern Ontario, but I’d be willing to drive as far as New Orleans.

New Orleans kicks ass, but I don’t see much reason to drive all the way there from Canada when it’s not wintertime. The South is roasting on a spit right now. You don’t want any part of that. Save the hot spots for the dead of winter. Instead, I’d visit either A) Chicago, because I’ve never gone wrong hanging out in Chicago, or B) a natural wonder. You’d probably have a great time driving to Yellowstone (but do your homework on our national parks, because they get super crowded), the Badlands, Glacier National Park, Big Sky, anywhere in Western Colorado, the Boundary Waters, the Grand Canyon, or you could rent a Airbnb on Lake Michigan somewhere. That’s where I would start. This is a pretty lousy answer, but that’s what you get for minimal planning, Kyle.

Matt:

What is the most wasted food? Is it the one leftover that never gets eaten in the days after the main meal? Or the picnic side that goes on your plate and then is not touched? I think the answer has to be ketchup. My family wastes an inordinate amount of it when it goes on their plates but then is left undipped.

My daughter gives me ENDLESS shit about how much ketchup I use. To be fair to her, I put so much ketchup on my plate that it looks like a Roger Corman movie was filmed there. But I eat it all. That’s just how much I love ketchup, baby. She remains unmoved.

Anyway my answer is potato salad. No one ever goes to a cookout and is like AW MAN WE RAN OUT OF POTATO SALAD! I could buy one tub of potato salad in my lifetime, put it out at every potluck, and never need to buy another.

Soren:

You’ve promoted earplugs for concerts recently. I would like to get some for myself and my son.... So many options of questionable quality out there, you have any specific recommendations?

I do! Right after that Funbag, another reader named Todd emailed me and told me to get these. I had a Queens of the Stone Age concert coming up, so I wasted no time. I ordered the earplugs off of Amazon and got them in the mail just a few days before the show. I was still lightly scarred from getting a foam earplug momentarily stuck in my ear when I saw The Struts earlier this summer, so I tested out these Vibes plugs at home before the QOTSA show. I wanted to make sure I could get them into my ear canal without needing the jaws of life to remove them. This was tricky business, because these plugs have a little plastic stem that gets slippery if you have sweaty hands, and my hands are always sweaty. So I really had to work to get my test plug out.

But I’d already spent the money on them. I wanted them to work, and I had that guy moment where I convinced myself I could MAKE them work with a little bit of American ingenuity. I tried wrapping a thin strip of duct tape around the end of the stem. That didn’t work. I tried masking tape, which also failed. And then, on my way to show, I had an epiphany:

A glove. If I get a latex glove, that’ll give me enough grip to pull the plug out!

I got downtown and bought myself an ice cream cone. I asked the clerk if he had any latex gloves. “Not for perverted reasons, I swear!” He gave me the gloves, no questions asked (thank you pandemic), and I got into the venue early. Once there, I put the plug in for a test extraction. I was standing on staircase at The Anthem, putting on this latex glove in front of everyone passing by. I probably should have done all of this in the toilet stall, but didn’t think that far ahead. I either looked like a complete freak, or super rock 'n' roll. Probably the latter. Totally.

The glove proved useless, so I became quietly frantic. I had to use an earplug (just one, since my other ear is completely deaf), but I was scared I’d end up checking into the ER if I couldn’t retrieve it. This happens when you’re deaf: Figuring out how to manage your deafness takes a lot of thought and toil. It consumes you when any hearing situation is suboptimal. I just wanted to rock, not become preoccupied with all of my old man bullshit.

Then I stuck the plug in and tried, one more time, to get it out bareback. I swirled the stem around in my ear and, HEY PRESTO!, got it out without any trouble. I put it back in and then, a few minutes later, forgot it was in there at all. The show was incredible. Josh Homme delivered the goods. When it was all over, I spun out the plug and clicked my heels.

And then I needed an hour to get home because Uber was clusterfucked.

Email of the week!

Jeff:

Over the summer of 1988, I stayed by myself at my grandmother's house. That would have been the summer I turned 12. While there, I convinced this wonderful woman to buy me a cassette of the 2 Live Crew album Move Somethin'. Keep in mind that this was before albums came with warning stickers, so she had no idea what she was doing. I spent the following days walking around her house listening to the tape on my Walkman.

At one point, she demanded to hear what I was listening to. I managed to negotiate long enough to choose the song she heard. This is the song I chose. “H-B-C” contained a lot of vocabulary that went miles over my 12 year-old head, so it seemed relatively benign to me. Grandma immediately confiscated the cassette and called my parents. My grandmother sadly passed away in 1991 from breast cancer, so I never had the chance to discuss these events with her as an adult. My question is, if you had to expose your sweet 75-year-old gram to a song from this record, which would you choose?

“Doo Wah Diddy.” Go hard or go home.

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