One of the Ryder Cup’s grand traditions is the post-loss sniping, finger-pointing, and occasional full-blown meltdown. It happens on both sides, but the Euros are often better at bottling things up out of public view in the immediate aftermath, or at least keeping the grievances relatively minor. The “meltdown” variety of postmortem controversy seems less likely with the “Team Reed” brood off the stage, but perhaps the Schauffele clan will one day fill the void.

As with the Reeds, where family members also operate in official capacities as agents and spokespeople and money managers, Xander Schauffele’s dad Stefan maintains a professional role as a swing coach and as a business manager. Mr. Schauffele became the subject of several media stories in the aftermath of another blowout loss by an American team that insisted it was the closest and most united group they’d ever seen. Early Monday morning, The Times published a story with quotes from Daddy Schauffele suggesting that his son was close to not making it to the Ryder Cup due to a dispute over a “player participation and benefit agreement.”

According to Stefan, Xander and his good friend Patrick Cantlay demanded these documents, which were eventually sorted out after some tense back-and-forth with various suits and counsel (read the Times report for a full accounting.) Blocking Netflix access was one eventual result of that back-and-forth. But according to Mr. Schauffele, the animated background of this lead-up tension was and is the subject of compensation for Ryder Cup players. This became the heart of the Cantlay hat-gate reports that seemed to change the current of the 2023 Cup. Mr. Schauffele also chatted with Kevin Van Valkenburg and Dylan Dethier, providing similar quotes on the need for financial compensation, or at least more clarity and transparency on the money (his own comments go in several different directions and are often unclear.) A few thoughts on Mr. Schauffele and his various contentions becoming the center of the post-loss accounting:

  1. There is a sound argument that the players are exploited by the Ryder Cup and are deserving of some larger form of compensation. The event generates millions for the PGA of America and the European Tour. The players live like kings for the week, get $200k to donate to their own charity or causes, and an immeasurable boost in brand and endorsement appeal (their Tour gets a hefty chunk of TV revenue put back into the entire membership’s pension plan, but nothing goes directly to the twelve players.) But they do not play for a purse in an event that is generating boatloads of cash. It’s fair to argue they should.

  2. The players and captains themselves do not all agree on this. Most would argue the event is quite good as it is and wouldn’t throw a fit trying to get more cash. Both captains grimaced at the idea, and Luke Donald said “absolutely not” when asked about paying the players. The pay-for-play cries have generally come from one side of the Atlantic over the years. It’s also reasonable enough to argue that the event sizzles because of the current arrangement, and that sizzle provides benefits to participants for years. They’re not playing for nothing, as outlined above. The stakes being so unique compared to every other golf event is what makes the Ryder Cup stand out, which gives players a special and highly-visible platform from which to reap rewards.

  3. This is also one of the rare golf events less reliant on the starpower of the players involved. Of course you need a few of the top names, but, like the Masters, many of the actors on stage could be swapped out and the show would still generate plenty of buzz. An event like the Memorial, or even the PGA Championship, would not enjoy this luxury.

  4. Go ahead and argue the players deserve more of that giant pile of revenue that’s being generated. It’s a fair point. But sussing out who gets what when they can’t even agree on whether this should be a pay-for-play or play-for-pride arrangement seems like it could get cantankerous.

  5. Where there’s less room in this discussion, however, is for the temperamental dad of a 30-year-old zero-time major winner. We’ve got enough helicopter parents corrupting youth sports. We don’t need them in the Ryder Cup. He can find a platform to share his thoughts, but they should be given zero weight and he should wield no influence.

  6. Stefan seemed to make it clear that he was not speaking for his son. But is he not speaking as his business manager? And he seems to be reflecting at least some of the Xander camp’s views, and possibly maybe Cantlay’s as well. These players are not children; if they have thoughts on the matter, they should speak up for themselves.

  7. The on-course product is as close to perfect as we have in golf, but Stefan seems to be arguing that paying players would be “all about improving this product.” What? “Like with other things that I’ve tried to improve, it’s all about making a better product, right? That’s truly what it’s about,” he told Dethier. Why? How? There’s absolutely a cogent argument for paying players, but it’s not this one. It makes no sense. He also seems unsure of whether he wants the players to receive direct compensation, or whether he wants players to be able to look through the books and take a bigger chunk to donate to one big charity they all agree on. (Good luck finding a consensus there.) What a preposterous way to dress up your demand for more money.

  8. One of those players who is not essential to the Ryder Cup product? Xander Schauffele. He is an exceptional talent, but the event would rage on whether he’s there or not. Xander is not helping or hurting the product in any way. He is immaterial to the product. He is material to the scoreboard, where he went 1-3-0 this year.

  9. Also, while the competitive product may be close to perfect, the TV product is bleeding. Ratings dropped. Commercials were numerous. That’s in no small part due to NBC having to make up for gargantuan rights fees. Now Xander’s dad is suggesting that more money is required to improve the product. It is insane.

It’s one thing for golf’s Lavar Ball to grab a moment in the headlines and generate some easily-ignored debate. But most concerning is a line in Dethier’s item that Schauffele thinks his position “would stand up in anybody’s mind, the court of public opinion and potentially in the courts.” Is he really threatening to bring legal action against the Ryder Cup? Given that pro golf right now seems to spend as much time on mergers, legal quarrels, congressional hearings, and organizational restructuring as it does the actual golf, it feels appropriate to finish off the year with a player’s dad suggesting there might be legal action coming for the game’s best event, an event that so far has been immune to all that.

This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.