Ryder Cup, a biennial golf event that is played between team USA and Team Europe. Each team contains 12 players. However, the venue alters between Europe and the United States. Although, it was named after Samuel Ryder, an English businessman who donated the Ryder Cup Trophy in 1926. The modern Ryder Cup tournament has shaped up after the inclusion of the continental Europeans in 1979.
Founding of the Cup
The idea of the actual Ryder Cup started officially in 1927, but it is considered that the formation of the Cup began in 1921. Let’s take a look at the brief history of the foundation of the Cup.
On 27 September 1920, Golf Illustrated’s James D. Harnett proposed an idea to send a team of American players consisting of 12-20 US professional golfers to play in the British Open 1921. Later the magazine sent a proposal letter to the Professional Golfers’ Association of America. According to the proposal, Golf Illustrated would sponsor the tour. Surprisingly the PGA of America showed a positive view on that matter. After that, the British Open Championship Fund was created, and eventually, a 10-a-side match was played at Gleneagles on 6 June 6, 2021, between the American and British players.
After that 2021 event, it became the norm that a small number of golf professionals would travel and play against each other. But in 1926, a larger than usual number of players traveled to Britain to take part in the Open Championship. Before that, Walter Hagen, an American golfer, announced a team of four US players to play against 4 British professional golfers before the Open.
Further, an unknown golf enthusiast announced that he would donate a cup for an annual competition. In April 1926, it was revealed that Samuel Ryder was the man. Eventually, an 8-a-side competition took place on June 4 and 5, in which British players achieved a victory by 13-1.
Later the match was widely reported as the Ryder Cup.
The next competition was organized on a more formal basis in the following year, and the “Deed of Trust” for Ryder Cup was drawn to formalize the contest rules. Both British and USA PGA organizations formed a selection for the competition.
Later, Golf Illustrated raised a fund to sponsor the British golfers to play in the US Open and Ryder Cup. The fund’s goal was to raise £3,000, and Samuel Ryder contributed £100 to the fund. But there was a £300 shortfall at the end, and Ryder covered that up. The American PGA decided to select the team from US-born golfers, but it was not in the rule.
In early 1928, the organizers realized that arranging an annual tournament was practically tough. Hence, they came to a decision to arrange the contest in 1929 and then biannually thereafter. A new era started with that decision.
Era 1: Early Years 1927-1937
Beginning in 1927, the 6 Ryder Cup tournaments took place before World War. There was no event in 1939, 1941, 1943, and 1945 due to World War II.
The 1927 event took place in Worcester Country Club, Worcester, Massachusetts. Team USA won the game. After that, the USA won 1931, 1935, and 1937. On the other hand, Great Britain won the 1929 and 1933, both of them were played on their home ground. Those early-era tournaments were not as fancy as today.
Era 2: The Formative Years 1947-1971
After World War II, the future of the Ryder Cup was uncertain as Robert A. Hudson, Oregon fruit grower and canner, did not step up to fund the British team. But, during that time, Hudson was a member of the PGA Advisory Committee and came forward and offered Portland Golf Club to host the tournament. Finally, the competition resumed and kept continuing. From 1947 to 1971, Great Britain won only one tournament in 1957. The USA vs Great Britain era ended in 1971.
Era 3: United States vs Great Britain & Ireland 1973-1977
Irish golfers joined the British team in 1973 to play against the Americans. However, the Irish players could not make any difference. They teamed until 1977 and lost all three Ryder Cups.
Era 4: Continental European Golfers Emerge
The golf world had seen the most significant changes to golf’s of the most prestigious event in 1979 when the continental European players were eligible to participate. This is now known as team Europe. However, this change was proposed by Jack Nicklaus and Edward Stanley, then Professional Golfers’ Association president. Their aim was to make the tournament more competitive. Besides, Americans were dominant, and many talented European golfers couldn’t join. So, they thought of adding those top European players, and eventually, this decision made the Ryder Cup more popular.
That’s how today’s Ryder Cup format shaped up and continues its legacy.