9 Golden Rules for Paul Azinger for Being a Successful US Team Leader

Paul Azinger sits on Mount Rushmore of America’s most well-known captain.

Getty Photographs

It is a heat Monday morning in September, and Paul Azinger is in his glad place. He is lonely, sitting in a 400-square-foot cottage underneath a TV and over salt water. He has a fishing rod in his hand and the one fear in his world, it appears, is catching a purple fish earlier than the solar will get too scorching.

In different phrases, it is the right time for Azinger to delve into the previous.

“Barely anybody is aware of this,” he started. “However when the Presidents Cup occurred for the primary time ever, numerous the captain’s work ended up in my lap.”

Azinger’s telephone rang. It was early 1994, and he was in Englewood, California, the place he had spent the earlier months receiving remedy for lymphoma. Hale Irwin, Azinger’s good good friend and longtime play associate, was on the road.

Later that 12 months, Erwin advised Azinger, he was to be captain of the U.S. staff at a brand new Ryder Cup-style match-playing occasion referred to as the Presidents Cup. Erwin wanted to choose an assistant captain, and since he was within the race to be the first-ever staff captain on the occasion, he wanted to ensure the assistant was somebody he may belief. Will Zinger be a recreation, Irwin questioned?

Trevor Immelman smiles

‘It is Worrying Issues’: How CBS’s Trevor Immelman Creates a Presidents Cup ‘Franchise’…and Turns into One


James Colgan

“I simply obtained out of my most cancers and that was the best gesture,” Azinger stated. “I like Hill for that. For me to have the ability to be again in that staff room and have the ability to get in there with all the blokes, , it was superb.”

Just a few months later, Azinger and Irwin had been collectively at Robert Trent Jones Golf Membership, Virginia, and led the American staff to a cushty victory within the Presidents Cup inaugural.

“I felt like I used to be in cost that week,” he stated. “Figuring out the pictures the gamers took within the match 3 instances earlier than the subsequent units in order that they’ll know the membership. I used to be taking part in with the mechanics of what was occurring throughout the matches. Some encouraging phrases perhaps right here and there.”

Azinger was a junkie, and when requested to steer his personal staff within the 2008 Ryder Cup, he was filled with daring new concepts about easy methods to enhance the golf staff for the higher in the USA. After all, the remaining – the People hit the Europeans at Valhalla, ending an eight-year streak of European domination via using the progressive new Azinger system.

However as Azinger now seems to be again at his practically three a long time of expertise competing underneath the American flag, he sees his successes as pointing to some broader truths about staff golf. Forward of this week’s Presidents Cup (which he’ll assist broadcast for NBC Sports activities), he is agreed to share a few of his classes from alongside the best way.

Paul Azinger’s guidelines for main an American staff

1. Select the Proper Gamers (or Create a System that Works for You)

It appears easy, nevertheless it is not. There are numerous elements that may affect the qualification course of, not the least of which is the principles set by the people who choose groups.

In 2008, Azinger reworked the Ryder Cup choice course of right into a points-based system, making sturdy efficiency much more essential in bigger, extra profitable golf occasions.

“Cash and majors had been double [points value], as a result of I felt just like the gamers had been suffocated simply due to these two issues,” he says with amusing. “I imply, there’s nothing else you may choke on aside from cash and status. I felt the massive firms benefited from each.”

At present, the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup groups depend on a mixture of factors earned and “Captain Selections” – permitting the management to have a higher say in who stays on every staff.

“Now, the US will get the highest 12 gamers at a time,” Azinger says.

Paul Azinger has overhauled numerous the best way we take a look at staff golf as we speak.

Getty Photographs

2. Construct a profitable atmosphere

Workforce environments Foreigner The environments of golfers, a few of whom have by no means competed on a staff of their lives. The captain’s job is to ensure the atmosphere seems to be acquainted. Comfortable gamers make assured gamers, and assured gamers play good golf.

“The captain has to maintain each element, so the participant would not have to consider something however the recreation and golf,” Azinger says. “The staff room is a calming atmosphere.”

Azinger says should you did it proper, you will know fairly rapidly.

“I used to be in a bunch of groups and within the room,” he stated. “At the most effective of it, we snigger and rise up and inform rain delay tales and play ping-pong. We now have tantrum tales, we now have unhealthy tales, and we now have worst bounce tales. They’re simply guys hanging out.”

3. Bleed over particulars

There isn’t any issue to be neglected. nobody. When Azinger took over the People, he saved shut tabs on all the things from clothes designs to the dinner menu.

Azinger was so obsessive about element within the months main as much as the event that by the point the event rolled, he did not need to.

“We requested every participant, What are your three most favourite meals?” Azinger stated. “And each night time, it was considered one of a participant’s three most favourite meals on the desk. Some nights there was a bunch of stuff outdoors.”


“I by no means thought of meals as soon as throughout the week.”

4. Select your phrases properly

There was just one time that Azinger addressed the complete 2008 US Ryder Cup staff, and that got here earlier than the competitors even began.

“It was the primary day,” he remembers. “I advised them we had been doing one thing completely different.”

Azinger advised the staff that he determined to attempt a brand new technique: the staff can be divided into “teams” of 4, and these teams can be liable for managing themselves and their efficiency.

Since then, Azinger has by no means spoken to the entire squad once more – at the same time as he took a dangerous 9-7 lead in Sunday’s singles matches.

“I lay on my mattress on Saturday night time and checked out my spouse and stated, ‘Oh my God, I forgot to say something to them.'” She stated: Don’t be concerned. They’re prepared. “

In any case these years, Azinger says there’s something to be realized from that story.

“A pacesetter has to organize his males, and produce the appropriate gamers collectively,” he says. “Then I believe inevitably it is best to get out of the best way. It isn’t about you, it is actually concerning the atmosphere within the room.”

5. Don’t be afraid of the bench

There are arduous selections about who performs and who would not – after which there are simple selections.

“You do not have to play everybody,” he stated. “In case you are frightened about somebody, you may sit with them [in the early-week sessions]. “

6. You will have a powerful assist staff

That is golf staff recommendation as a lot as it’s life recommendation.

“My spouse, she was superb,” Azinger stated. “I by no means talked about her in something concerning the Ryder Cup however she was nice for me. She was nice for the staff and the staff room and she or he made an enormous distinction.”

7. Be a grasp of communication

If you happen to’ve ever watched a golf staff, you have little doubt seen the ear items worn by the captain’s crew. What’s on the radio on match days?

“The job of radio is to remain knowledgeable,” he says. “If I am standing with the final group, and I am watching them and there are 4 matches I am going to get an replace from the third match, or I am going to get an replace from the primary.”

However radio work is not at all times the identical actuality from the radio.

As quickly as there is a cheer, you will hear somebody scream. Within the Ryder or the Presidents Cup, that is what it is about. ‘He made this!! Byrdie!!! or ‘Oh, no!’ We tousled! “

Ear items are an essential – if underestimated – a part of the captain’s puzzle.

Getty Photographs

8. Be the grasp of individuals

Azinger’s pod system has been identified to depend on persona assessments to help division gamers. It was a key a part of the US staff components in 2008, nevertheless it wasn’t the one approach Azinger tried to simplify the human component within the competitors.

In a single significantly controversial transfer, he eliminated Saturday night time’s present ceremony from the US staff’s schedule, insisting that gamers would get a greater aggressive favor in the event that they took the trophy. after, after End taking part in.

“On Saturday night time, there was none of that ‘how a lot we love one another now’ and all that garbage. That is the worst – Saturday Night time Kumbaya. It was in all probability the worst approach ever to organize for a Sunday ultimate. [The Europeans] They name ghost sword [Ballesteros]. And right here we’re distributing crystal and watches.”

Some members of Workforce USA had been upset by the choice, which toppled an outdated staff custom. Azinger was prepared for the warmth.

“I keep in mind my spouse approached him and stated, ‘Hey, we haven’t made a gift but,’” Azinger stated. “I stated, ‘Yeah, we received’t do this this 12 months. We’ll do this tomorrow night time, Sunday night time.’”

9. Embrace uncertainty

Ultimately, lastlyPlay will start, and the end result can be solely out of the captain’s fingers. Good captains will perceive this actuality, however superb He’ll be taught from her to thrive inside her.

“As soon as the bell rings, the captain has to remain out of the best way,” Azinger stated. “Sure, I believe you may overdo it. You’ll be able to overdo all the things.”

James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is an affiliate editor at GOLF, contributing tales to the positioning and journal. Scorching Mic writes GOLF’s weekly media column, and makes use of his experience in broadcasting throughout social media and the model’s video platforms. James, who graduated in 2019 from Syracuse College — and clearly his golf course — nonetheless thawed 4 years in the past within the snow. Previous to becoming a member of GOLF, James was a scholarship holder (and a sensible looper) in Lengthy Island, the place he belongs. He might be reached at james.colgan@golf.com.

Related Posts