Success at the top end of elite sport is regularly decided by the smallest of margins. As we move further away from traditions and towards a social media, millennial-driven where sport is seen as a commodity and an entertainment platform rather than something to be cherished, it might be one of the few dynamics to remain intact.

The 41st Ryder Cup encapsulated the beauty of how fine margins can determine achievement or failure. Assisted by the Hazeltine course - which was a brilliant arena for matchplay yet horribly exposed to low scoring - the United States were able to ensure the smallest details went their way.

With fairways wide, hazards hospitable and rough non-existent, the three days of action quickly turned into a putting competition, and Team Europe were no match for their illustrious hosts. Thanks to talisman Patrick Reed, Davis Love III can celebrate a victory built on their accuracy with the putter.

The Texan Reed was the outstanding figure of the week in Chaska. His victory over Rory McIlroy, in one of the great contests of the sporting year, was worth more than just single point - it downed Europe's premier marksman. From that moment forward, there was a waterfall of red on the leaderboard.

Patrick Reed
Reed was America's talisman in Chaska. Getty Images

Those fine margins are not just reserved for events on the course; they are as relevant off it and the decisions of losing skipper Darren Clarke will inevitably be heavily scrutinised. Wildcards Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer were passengers for long periods, Rafa Cabrera Bello was a spectator when he should have been a player on Saturday afternoon while Russell Knox will be sitting at home rueing that he didn't get the chance to tame the 18 holes in Minnesota.

However, it's easy to over-criticise the Northern Irishman, who for every decision that went against him does emerge with some credit. The selection of Thomas Pieters was inspired as was his partnership with McIlroy which dragged Europe back into the contest on day two. Furthermore, the unity of the European team ratcheted up to a new level, all thanks to the environment of calm created by the 48-year-old.

Over 250,000 fans poured through the gates at Hazeltine - but some overstepped the mark. Getty Images

Arguably, Clarke was betrayed by the uncontrollables. Danny Willett's brother Pete crippled the confidence of The Masters champion and made him mentally unstable and unplayable on the opening morning - not to mention beyond. The boisterous Hazeltine crowd, who overstepped the mark several times, clearly affected the team too. In fact, you worry that come Paris in two years time some individuals on the continent might seek retribution.

In addition, the European Tour qualification system saw a clutch of talented yet vastly inexperienced players automatically make the team - forcing Clarke's hand when it came to his wildcards. Andy Sullivan, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Willett all made the team on merit, but they were overwhelmed by the occasion.

Phil Mickelson
Mickelson headed the taskforce charged with turning around America's fortunes in the Ryder Cup. Getty Images

Perhaps the factor which Clarke had least control of was the unity of Team USA, which was the critical factor in producing the first victory since 2008. The taskforce formed after defeat at Gleneagles, which made the American players more invested in the result, ensured this was a more focused and engaged performance. The celebrations will be sweeter too.

The 11-man group, which included Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, may have dreamt up a contrived wildcard system which led to the late selection of Ryan Moore, the man who claimed the decisive point, but it empowered captain Love but produced the right result. Such was its success it may put the European Tour under pressure to hold their own root and branch review, not that it is entirely necessary.

In a week which began with the passing of Arnold Palmer, the sport played the greatest tribute to his memory in engaging in a golfing contest full of respect between both teams and riddled with moments of immense quality. But most importantly, it helped thrust golf's most important team prize back to the forefront, confirming that the tussle for the Samuel Ryder Trophy remains the greatest available.

United States win Ryder Cup
The United States restored united and belief as they reclaimed the Ryder Cup. Getty Images