September 22, 2008

Ryders on the storm

I like to play golf more than I like to watch it, but I still like to watch it, so I watched some of the Ryder Cup on Sunday. A lot of people get excited about it because a team of golfers from the United States takes on a team from Europe, so it’s one of the few times when the individualistic conceit of golf becomes a rah-rah, back-slapping, high-fiving, knuckle-bumping sport.

Unga-bunga, my son.The Americans are really good at celebrating their success and thumping their chests before the crowd. The Europeans are trying to ape those antics, but the site of the motley Englishman Ian Poulter doing his best impression of Tiger made me cringe. It ain’t natural, squire.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about a Ryder Cup equivalent for the piping and drumming world. If the Spirit of Scotland can be the 11th best band in the world after playing together for only five days, could the concept be broadened in a Ryder Cup-like format? What if Scotland were pitted against all of the Commonwealth countries in a series of events where a single band from each side would be formed, comprising players that qualify somehow and a number of “captain’s picks”?

There could be the familiar MSR and 5-7-minute medley events, but also match-play quartets, trios, mini-bands and even points-based solo contests.

Since the United States would be left out due to not being a Commonwealth country, they might supply the judges and the lessons in over-the-top victory celebrations.

What side do you think would win? Who would be the non-playing captains for each side? What events might there be? What players would make up the teams?


  1. Mmm – commenting about the golf antics of our brothers across the sea and holding them up as being positive?! A few sage words about booing missed putts and verbally abusing certain players might also have been apt. Anyway, it must have been enjoyable for you to win for a change. I hold no grudges however and just to prove it I would support you including America in your new piping contest – after all it is a former colony!!

  2. There would have Survivor-style elimination, especially if the Americans were judging this thing. I envision the teams marching on to the massed bands field every evening by the light of tiki torches, with the losing team’s Pipe Major’s drones ceremoniously corked off upon elimination. Not sure about non-playing Captains yet. Billy Connolly comes to mind. You would need leaders capable of forging clandestine alliances.

  3. Ouch! You got me wrong. I dislike the high-fiving antics, and really can’t stand the carry-on by the American galleries. I much prefer the Ryder Cup when it’s held in the UK for that reason and because the links courses are better. I just thought the Europeans were trying to be like the Americans, and it looked a bit stupid. Never mind all that. Who would captain the piping/drumming teams? What events? Who should be on the teams?

  4. Yes, the image of most pro golfers fist pumping and celebrating is quite funny…anyone remember David Duvall from the ’99 Ryder Cup….?!

    Anyway, for this to work in piping/drumming we would have to look for more objective types of events, like fastest bag tie-in, who can play the longest without stopping, most successive ‘D’ crunluaths, the fastest marcher, etc.

  5. Anyone remember Sergio Garcia of the Euro squad at well basically any of his Ryder Cup appearances, talk about over the top celebrations. As for booing missed putts, well look no further than Mr. Langer. The whole debate about the fans in the states goes back ages, Bobby Jones was booed in his first appearance at the Open Championship when he resigned in the middle of his round so the Brits can’t claim to be any more hospitable a crowd than the states.

    Might make sense to have a Presidet’s Cup event for piping, the rest of the world vs. Scotland.

  6. Sorry I didn’t pick you up correctly Andrew – it’s the end of the working day this side of the pond and I must be tired.

    Great idea actually. How about – with all the movement between bands after Cowal, we could have personnel changes during a performance. Every band starts playing (facing out) and pipers and drummers change bands while continuing to play. At the end, they turn and face in and see who their new colleagues are.

  7. Andrew, brilliant idea as always. I don’t golf, but was fortunate enough to play with Windsor for the Ryder Cup opening ceremonies in 200…whenever it was at Oakland Hills (thanks for the invite, James). We were rooting for the European team, as they liked the pipes and talked to us, unlike the #$%& Americans, who were whisked from tent to tent and didn’t talk to anyone. So @#$%^ ’em.

    Anyway, the event was smashing fun, clearly world class. I think the Americans have to be in on what I’m referring to as the Protective Cup, if for no other reason than to be beaten mercilessly since we’re not exactly the centre of piping here, but do carry on and create a scene wherever we go.

    A question regarding non-native adoptees, who do they play for? Is Donald MacPhee on the European or US team? Jenny Hazard – Scotland or Canada? Can they pick? Does someone pick for them? Mere details to be worked out, I suppose…

    How about a new category for this contest, kind of like “Unlimited” racing (think CanAm, or NHRA Top Fuel cars, land speed records, etc)? Run what you brung, play what you want, no limit on corps sizes (upper or lower)….how about the Smells Like Teen Spirit Pipes Only Band playing Tommy and Quadrophenia, riding into the circle on scooters wearing surplus army jackets, then….

    Oh, wait – time for me to take my meds. Sorry….never mind.

  8. Andrew- Your ever present anti-American subtleties certainly weren’t veiled on this one. It’s really popular to bash Americans these days and you pull no punches. Add this most recent post to your near complete ignorance of any piping related goings-ons in the States and one wonders why you should ever be afforded an opprtunity to judge a contest involving an American player. Sure, continue to bore us with leadership changes of Grade III bands in the U.K as news but don’t even consider covering results of contests 30 minutes from your border. You call this journalism? Whatever.

  9. Hang on . . . one guy says I’m anti-UK then another says I’m anti-American. Wait’ll my wife and brother and sisters hear about this! I’m sure there are lots of US news and results in addition to the many that run here. If only people like “Jason” would send them . . .

    I don’t call this journalism. I call it a blog about what I thought was an interesting concept that mirrors the Ryder Cup. I like Robert Wilson’s idea to mirror the President’s Cup, with Scotland vs. the Rest of the World.

  10. I thought that a fun idea about a blog could be turned into something productive but apparently once again, it’s all gone to shite. call it what you want but the pure non sactioned entertainment of an event like this would probably take a long time to be beaten. I can see an event like this coming off in Las vegas with a huge crowd and it all coming down to the individual matches of one on one twice through a jig with the final 16 points up for grabs in the early evening final event. Yes I know that the ryder cup have 12 singles matches but picked a little higher number for this event)
    Jason, it’s a blog, not the New York Times and it’s for fun and a great idea to mix competition with entertainment.

  11. Come on. As if there is really anything but a few party-contests going on in the states each year to report. Kansas, metro cup, blah blah blah. If it weren’t for the commonwealth players at those events they would be completely useless. Same old shizzle from the punter squad who talk more than they practice.

  12. Great idea Andrew,Forget all the numpty comments above ,I can see this competition realy taking off.
    There are quite a lot of folk I could think of this side of the World,but who better than your Father in Law?He would pick a good band [non playing captain]
    There would be loads of great pipers and drummers to pick out for the trios and solo spots and maybe a concert type performance like the Bretons.
    Yes I can see it all and it should be taken round the World to different countries like the Olimpics only just in the Comonwealth.
    Cheers Andrew N. Gallagher

  13. I like the idea of a Vegas based event. That would be good fun, but I would change it up a bit and put the emphasis on bands. So day 1 could be singles (solos) with the top 16 from the two sides squared off in various solo events, a 2/4, 6/8, jig, H/J etc. for a total of 16 points. Then day 2 would be the est ball matches where teams of 2 players from either side do a “pipe off” / “drum off” again worth 16 points total, day 3 would be the 4 man match (quartets) for a total of 8 points and finally on day 4 the big show would end with a 20 point band competition. Then the team that had scored 30.5 points would be guarenteed a win.

    Add in some dancing girls and you have yourself a receipe for greatness!

  14. One other thought; since the Ryder / Presidents Cup are for Pros the piping event, lets call it the “Editors Cup”, there should also be an amateur event like the Walker Cup. Then you could alternate each year, so Year 1 is “Editor’s Cup” Year 2 is “Assistant Editor’s Cup” (Amateurs).

  15. Joel,
    I’m hurt…(not really), I am proud to be an American who is proud to Live in Scotland and just as proud to be a member of FMM. ( But of course you would know this – this said with a very bad french accent (inside joke)).

    To defend Ian Poulter ( i am not a fan of his) – his selection in the team came under considerable ridicule over here which may give reason to his OTT antics.

    Again Joel, I don’t think your comments towards the Americans were out of line – you can just go by the way people treat you, to the Americans you were probably a novelty act and the European team were more appreciative for bringing them a little bit of “home” to the occasion.

    Getting back to Andrew’s original question – If there is anything to do with piping the rest of the World team Captain has to be Richard Parkes. For team Scotland it has to be Ian McLellan.

  16. If our Ryder Cup equivalent is to combine both bands and solo events, my preference for non-playing captains would be those who know both domains but have retired from active competition. They would do the tuning, or at least assist. Access to reeds and instruments would be good. Harry McNulty? Kenny MacLeod? Ronnie McShannon?

    For players, you’d want all-rounders, like Roddy MacLeod, Willie McCallum, Bruce Gandy, Bill Livinsgtone, Jack Lee, Donald MacPhee . . .

    Joel’s question of team affiliation: I would say that if you have a passport for that country, then you’re eligible to be on that team. But, then again, Scotland, doesn’t have a passport, so that scuttles that idea.

  17. It did sound a little like you bashed American piping Andrew, but I forgive, but have to think the Americans would be able to throw together a group. Many yanks, play in bands across the border. I know Windsor and 78th both have good amounts. And given the chance for an open format, I think it would be enlightning to hear what we put up. Probably open with Bruce Springsteen, or maybe some thing else that reeks of Red, White, and Blue. Let us in your contest please, it’s the only way a pipe abdn will be invited to the white house.

  18. Jamie – Well, considering that, if there were an American team, I would be eligible to be on it, I can assure you that no slight was intended. Canada’s left out of the Ryder Cup, as are lots of other countries. It was an arbitrary example. Should have gone with Scotland vs. Rest of the World.

  19. Uhh ~Jason….don’t say “Shizzle.” It doesn’t translate to Canadian so well. Keep practicing…words aren’t your forte.

    Bruce…I get that this is a blog and not the NYT. Thanks for the lesson in journalism. My comments were directed at Andrew as the chief contributor and editor of “The World’s Only Independent Publication for Pipers and Drummers” as it has been my suspicion that he is intentionally neglectful of American Piping and Drumming. We are still part of the piping and drumming “World,” right? His blog post seemed to confirm what I have observed as an anti-American posture on Pipes / Drums (apathy at the very least). And I called him out, big deal.

    However, Andrew clarified himself in a private e-mail and I respect him for doing so. Apparently, he relies heavily on contributed information from the peanut gallery. So, there it is. We’ll have to start reporting from the “party-contests.” That is, unless were not busy filling out the ranks in 78th,TP,former Windsor I, etc.

    High five, fist bump, chest thump.

  20. I wondered that as well, knowing that you would have been eligible. On one hand I believe Glenn Brown put out a fun challenge months ago, when Spirit of Scotland was gathering members, to have them play his merry band of Slayers in Vegas. I’m sure this would not be hard to gather one band from US/Canada, from Scotland/Ireland/England/wales/N.Ireland, from New Zealand/Australia, from Europe/Africa. Playoff format, then big time concert by all bands at the end of the week.

  21. Wow Jason….i think you need a lesson in manners, quite the rude post. Maybe this might be a good site for you to read up at:

    Maybe to solve the problem with nationality you could use the Olympics approach where it is determined by your nationality and once you represent a nation under its nationality you must stay with that nation. See the Brett Hull example, dual citizen cut by the Canadians so he played on the US squad and had to stay with the squad for the rest of his olympic career. That way individuals like Mr. MacPhee would have a choice of which nation they felt most aligned with.

  22. In response to Andrew’s obvious anti-Saskatchewan posture on pipes|drums [apathy, at least] I wanted to point out that we have one contest here every May, and bands come.

    So, I was thinking it might be time for the “Spirit of Saskatchewan Pipe Band,” and sounds like this Vegas thing would be a good start. We’d have to reclaim players from SFU, AlCal, SL78ths, Toronto, Spirit of Scotland [Johnnie, come home…], Clan Gregor, Triumph Street and a bunch of slackers who don’t play. I propose James MacHattie, pipe major. Who’s in?
    If it helps with recruitment, we don’t have to wear the SK tartan OR watermelons as glens.

  23. All right then, I’ve had quite enough of this anti-Gratiot County nonsense and am creating a Protective Cup piping team to take on the world….only players who were born in Gratiot County, Michigan, USA. We’ll not take Andrew’s obvious anti-Gratiot- County-native slights to our heritage any longer – let’s hit the field we’ll give you what for.

    It might be a bit of a small band. If there are any other pipers or drummers out there who were born in Gratiot County, please let me know….JK

  24. Let it go Jason. Ye who spars with the man of the clipboard, has scoresheets with no sunshine!! I do think the US team should have had Mike Weir on it so there would have been at least one token Canadian on it. He’s talented, but wasn’t allowed to play on either side.
    So see Canada got screwed again!!

  25. Jason – sorry to hear that you found the news about the leadership changes of our band so boring. I note however, that you only point it out because it’s a Grade 3 band. Is it the case that only G1 bands are worthy of news reports? By your own definition, are we not ALL part of the pipe band ‘world’. If you want to see some news about the USA, then provide some – just like we did. Do you think Andrew found out our news by some form of osmosis?! No – he found out because we bothered to keep him informed and then let him decide whether it was a worthy news item.

    Rant over and to this contest idea….I like the other Jamie’s idea of combined forces from Australisia, the UK, North America etc. Limit the number of players in each band to say, 14 pipers, 7 snares, 4 tenors and a bass (no super-sized band here!) and see how they fair against each other. Have it as an annual contest and rotate the location around the involved nations each year.

    The PM and LD of the top placed band from each nation at that year’s Worlds gets to choose the personnel for his nation’s band. So that’d be Terry Lee/Reid Maxwell, Richard Parkes/Keith Orr, Terry Tully/Stephen Creighton, Scott Nicolson/Mark Romer. Sounds like a load of fun and good music to me.

  26. Hey thank you Jamie of the green variety. On the other hand if Jason where not putting in his rants, maybe we would have just said sure Andrew, sounds great, and then we would have no suggestions on a format here. I would suggest Captains be picked by the main regions Piping assocciation. The North American one I would be willing to leave up to the PPBSO, and the ANAPABA, to coinside with each other. But seriously why wouldn’t the Captain be the Captain. it just works.

  27. How about the concept of a “World Series Pipe Band Contest”, which is open only to US bands? This would save us explaining the concept and background of The Commonwealth to our US cousins, whilst it would provide further opportunity for high-fiving and shallow flag-waving antics?

  28. Andy, I think the Yanks could care less about the failed Commonwealth, they’re too busy watching their own wealth slip into a depression. If this keeps up, they’ll all have to play in their own local bands and host a World series in their own back yard.

    There will be lots of Spirit pipe bands from ghost towns too! LOL

    The US could assemble an Allstar team to rival anyone in the World.
    Piping has become borderless in terms of talent!

  29. Are we all forgetting one thing – that golf competitions are determined by a score that is based on actual strokes played, as opposed to the highly subjective art form of the pipe band caper.

    In golf, the best performed player/team wins. Simple. Is this always the case in pipe band contests….?

    It is hard enough in Scotland for so-called ‘overseas’ bands without further exacerbating the siege mentality that the Scots must feel at times (even though they’d never admit it).

  30. Reading through all of this I’m thinking a world cup, single elimination, national team format over several days in Vegas. The final at Ceasar’s Palace, boxing ring-like theater in the round setup, with the dancing girls with placards saying what the next event is between rounds. Each team facing off in a combination single and team events. In recognition of the importance of the beer tent to the culture of piping competitions, a few events should be modeled off that cinematic classic “Beerfest”. A competition of this magnitude would surely draw a great mix of rowdy European piping hooligans and American body-painted, chest thumping idiots, I mean super fans. The Americans might not be truely competitive but we could chant U-S-A, U-S-A and hope for our Lake Placid 1980 moment. The only question remaining question is which nation would take the role of the old Soviet Union–Scotland? Canada?

  31. I’m pretty sure Canada would have to be the Soviet’s in this case. I mean we’re the “relatively” young nation that has developed our system based on that in Scotland and we still aim to compete against them, plus people still defect to Scotland….

  32. I get the feeling if you picked some of the best pipers from across australia youd end up with a lineup that remarkably resembles the ’98 lineup for vic police



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