Team Europe’s plan to win over the American Ryder Cup fans at Whistling Straits… become Cheeseheads
Team Europe took the course for Wednesday’s practice session wearing giant yellow foam blocks on their heads in an attempt to win over the local fans.
The “Cheesehead” hats are a nod – almost literally – to the local NFL team the Green Bay Packers, whose rabid fans wear these bizarre caps to signal their loyalty.
The Whistling Straits course is based in the middle of Wisconsin, known as America’s “dairyland”, which produces more cheese than any other state. Green Bay, some 40 miles away, is the nearest urban centre.
During today’s press conferences, European captain Padraig Harrington explained that this stunt was far from being an impromptu bit of fun.
Instead, Harrington has been talking to the Packers about a possible collaboration for the past 18 months or longer. He rejected the initial idea of using green uniforms – which would have matched the Green Bay kit – because of his Irish roots, and a desire to avoid clichés about the “Emerald Isle”.
“Everybody embraced that,” Harrington explained, “as you would have seen on the first tee. When we were doing the clothing with Loro Piana [Europe’s kit manufacturers], they were talking about maybe bringing some Irish colours in for me.
“I’m not really into that sort of stuff, so I came up with, ‘Why don’t we do something with Wisconsin?’ Obviously the Green Bay Packers fit both the Irish and the Green Bay Packers, and then the cheeseheads came in and a bit of fun with it.
“Everybody is out here to have fun, to get on well with the crowds. There’s no doubt about that. We obviously can’t sign autographs this week with Covid, which is something that traditionally we would do. So yeah, these fans have come out and they’ve come out on a cold day. They’ve come out to watch us, and we want to give them something to watch.”