No, this isn't a Ryder Cup post. It's a response to Ron Sirak's reporting that the question of tweaking the Solheim Cup has shifted from "whether" to "when" and "how." Nothing has been decided, of course, but I hope the deciders are considering the answer to the last question more carefully than Sirak, who points out that the Lexus Cup complicates the process, but manages to pass over the Kyoraku Cup. Since my own preferred answer involves synchronizing the U.S. vs. Europe Solheim Cup with the Korea vs. Japan Kyoraku Cup and having the winners and losers square off in the off-year, I'm particularly disappointed at Sirak's oversight.
What about the Lexus Cup? I like both its Asia-centricity and its "Asia against the world" mode, particularly since it gives golfers who are not eligible for either the Solheim or Kyoraku Cups (such as Karrie Webb, Lorena Ochoa, Angela Park, Ya Ni Tseng, and Na Zhang) a chance to play international team golf in a more dramatic format than the Women's World Cup. So I'd recommend keeping it as a stand-alone end-of-season event.
Another topic Sirak doesn't address in his brief column is the Olympics. Let's skip straight to the "how" question, because it's the most important one: if you can come up with a good format, it makes sense to get golf in the Olympics as soon as possible. If not, forget it.
Here's what I'd like to see. The first round should be handled like a college golf tournament in the U.S., with a few small twists. That is, it should be a 36-hole stroke-play event consisting of 4-player teams from all nations that can field a pair of women and a pair of men. Give individual medals to the lowest-scoring individuals of each gender, throw out the worst male and worst female score each round to determine team totals, and use the team results as a qualifier for the second round, which will consist of team match-play between the top 8 teams. For each match, put the men and women into different foursomes, break each 18-hole contest into 3 (actually 4) 6-hole mini-matches (the 1st being alternate shot, the 2nd best ball, and the 3rd and 4th head-to-head faceoffs) with the usual scoring system (1 point for a win, .5 point for a tie, for a total of 8 points at stake between the 2 foursomes), and break ties through sudden-death stroke-play in which all 8 players play a hole and their scores are totalled up. That's 72 holes to determine who's in the gold vs. silver and bronze vs. nothing matches. With that much at stake, making them 27 holes (9-hole matches instead of 6-hole ones) gets us to the nice round number of 99 holes to determine the team medals. 99 holes over 5 days every 4 years for the top 8 teams (and 36 for the rest) isn't that much of a sacrifice, is it?
If this works as it should, we could eventually expand the team match-play portion to the top 16 teams and add another 18 holes into the mix, but let's not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?
[Update 1 (7:24 pm): Here are Hound Dog's thoughts on Olympic golf.]
[Update 2 (8/14/08, 12:30 pm): Here's Scott Michaux's Olympics suggestion--if it flies, the LPGA Championship could mirror the PGA Championship on this.]