Home field advantage takes on an entirely new meaning in golf. It's an individual sport, so fans aren't rooting against anyone in particular. And because tournaments shift around the country and the world, fans don't have the same loyalty to players as they do to their hometown teams.
But when you make golf a team sport, and you put it in one of the world's best sporting cities, you can expect an entirely atypical and at times hostile atmosphere. Team Europe isn't simply competing against Team USA at this weekend's Ryder Cup, the gentlemen from across the pond are also competing against tens of thousands of American fans.
Sure, European fans love golf as well. But, simply put, Europeans are used to a different type of fan. Perhaps Ryder Cup legend Colin Montgomerie explains it best in a column in The Telegraph:
"In Wales most of the 50,000 spectators were golfers, members of golf clubs, proper golf fans," Montgomerie writes. "I don’t think that’s the same in America. They’re just sports fans."
By that, Montgomerie means that American fans aren't afraid to yell insults at the European players or cheer in a manner that Europeans might consider impolite. And to make matters worse for the Europeans, Chicago fans are known for their passion.
"I have a feeling that Chicago might be even more boisterous than Louisville (Valhalla), so I'm expecting that," said Justin Rose.
The idea of the rowdy American fan dates back to 1999, when some Europeans were upset with the conduct of the American team and the crowd at the Ryder Cup in Brookline, Mass. The crowd was particularly unruly, prompting veteran broadcaster Alistair Cooke to ask whether the Ryder Cup was "a golf tournament or a circus?" In Cooke's mind, the 1999 Ryder Cup represented the arrival of the "golf hooligan."
The fact that the Ryder Cup is being played just outside Chicago -- as opposed to, say, Louisville -- makes it more imposing for the Europeans and comfortable for the Americans.
"This is a great sporting town to begin with," said Tiger Woods. "They obviously have supported the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls, Blackhawks, you name it. For us to come in here and be a part of a U.S. team, I think is just going to add to that."