The first tournament to bear any resemblance of the Ryder Cup, as we know it today, was held after the British Open at St. Andrews, in 1921.Prior to the Open, The Glasgow Herald sponsored a tournament at the Gleneagles King's Course with a total prize fund of £1,000, which attracted a considerable number of competitors from the US. Before the American contingent embarked on the long journey home by boat, an exhibition match was held between Great Britain and America. The home side won by 10 matches to 4 matches.
1n 1926,the British Open was held at Royal Lytham and St. Anne 's and another unofficial international exhibition match was hastily arranged between British and American professionals at Wentworth. The home side routed the invaders by 13 to 1 The American team was led by the legendary Walter Hagen, the first player to make a living solely from playing golf. On the British team was one Abe Mitchell, beaten in a play-off in the British Amateur Championship at Westward Ho! in 1912,before turning to the professional ranks. At this time, Sam Ryder was paying Mitchell an annual salary of £1,000 to be his personal tutor. Ryder was understandably impressed by his tutor 's performance on that fateful day when he took the scalp off none other than Jim Barnes, the reigning US Open Champion by 8 and 7.Mitchell then teamed up with George Duncan to beat Hagen and Barnes by 9 and 8. After this match, Sam Ryder, Abe Mitchell, George Duncan, together with their American counterparts, Walter Hagen and Emmet French headed for the nearby pub. After a few drinks, Sam Ryder made the immortal statement "We must do this again ".
Sam Ryder was born in 1858 and grew up in Manchester, the son of a corn merchant and one of five children. He played cricket in his formative years and his father expected him to follow him into the corn business. However, young Sam had other ideas. He had come to the conclusion that the middle-and working-class English would grow flowers in their small gardens if only they could afford the seeds. At the time, flowers and other plants were sold only in batches to the large estates. His father strongly disagreed and disapproved.
In 1895, Sam, his wife and three daughters moved to St. Albans. There, together with his wife, he started a thriving business using the slogan "Everything for One Penny from Orchids to Mustard to Cress". They packed and sent their product all over the world, business boomed and Sam was elected Mayor of St. Albans in 1905.
His home Course was Verulam where he was Captain in 1911,1926 and 1927.His game improved in his latter years and he played off a handicap of six in his seventies.
Having made the immortal statement "We must do this again" the gun was put to his head and Sam Ryder commissioned the Gold Cup we now know as the Ryder Cup, which represents the finest competition in International Golf. The figure on top of the famous cup is not that of Sam Ryder but of Abe Mitchell, his highly paid tutor. Sam Ryder was only too delighted to put up the cup and have his name associated with an International golf event. However, underwriting the entire expenses for the team, estimated at £3,000,was another matter. The British Professional Golfers Association did not have the funds either. In stepped the British Golf magazine Golf Illustrated with a fund-raising campaign, which brought in £2,500 in contributions from Britain and the US. Contributions were also received from as far a field as Nigeria, Ceylon, Australia, the Transvaal and Canada. Ryder made up the shortfall and Walter Hagen picked up the other expenses such as uniforms, etc.
The first Ryder Cup was played at Worcester Country Club, Massachusetts, not far from Brookline, the venue of the 1999 Ryder Cup. On the 3rd and 4th of June, 1927,the British team was led by Ted Ray and the USA by Walter Hagen. The visitors were routed by 9.5 matches to 2.5 matches after a rough sea crossing and an even rougher welcome by the host country.
Sam Ryder remained an enthusiastic supporter of the competition, which at this stage it had been decided to make it a bi-annual event. Sam had his nephew, Thomas Anderson Davis draw up a Deed of Trust setting up the format and rules of the matches. It was agreed by the Ryder family and the representatives of the PGA 's. The Ryder Cup matches became official on the 8th December 1929. Unable to travel to Scioto, Ohio, in 1931,because of old age and failing health, Sam broadcast the following message to the players before the match began which encapsulates the spirit of the Ryder Cup. He said 'I look upon the royal and ancient game as being a powerful moral force which influences the best of things in humanity. I trust the effect of this match will be to influence a cordial, friendly and peaceful feeling throughout the whole civilised world '.He concluded with 'I have done several things in my life for the benefit of my fellowman but I am certain I have never done a happier thing than this '.Could the old man have possibly known the happiness his foresight would bring to hundreds of millions of golfers who look forward to each Ryder Cup and for us in Ireland who wait its arrival at The K Club on the 3rd weekend in September 2006
The early matches were a tit-for-tat affair with the home country winning on home soil, until 1937,when the US beat Britain 7 matches to 5 matches at Southport. The matches were cancelled during the war years and did not recommence until 1947 at Portland, Oregon. Indeed, the Ryder Cup would have been consigned to the annals of history had it not been for Robert A. Hudson, a member of the Portland Golf Club in Oregon.
After the war the British PGA couldn't even begin to think of financing the teams trip to the US. Hudson paid for the team 's travelling expenses, he met them as they arrived off the Queen Mary in New York, threw a party at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, accompanied and paid for their four-day trip across America, paid for the caddies and everything else. Our own legendary Fred Daly was a member of that team. Hudson 's generosity did not stop there. For ten years after, every member of the Ryder Cup team received a Christmas Hamper stuffed with fruit and other goodies.
We owe a great deal of thanks to Robert Hudson, without whose generosity and foresight the Ryder Cup might well be extinct and we in Ireland would not be waiting with bated breath for its arrival at The K Club.
The Irish have had a major input into the Ryder Cup since Fred Daly first made his appearance in 1947 having won the British Open the same year.
Hugh Boyle played in 1967.
Harry Bradshaw ('The Brad ') played in 1953, 1955 and 1957.
Darren Clarke played in 1997, 1999 and 2002, 2004, 2006
Fred Daly played in 1947, 1949 and 1953.
Eamonn Darcy played in 1975,1977 and 1981.
Norman Drew played in 1959.
David Feherty played in 1991.
Padraig Harrington played in 1999 and 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Jimmy Martin played in 1965.
Graeme McDowell playes in 2008, 2010 and 2012.
Paul McGinley 2002, 2004 and 2006.
Rory McIlroy played in 2010 and 2012.
The legendary Christy O 'Connor (Himself) who played in ten Ryder Cups from 1955 through 1971,a record only surpassed by Nick Faldo who has played in eleven Ryder Cups.
Christy Jnr. played in 1975 and 1989.
John O'Leary played in 1975.
Eddie Polland played in 1973.
Ronan Rafferty played in 1981.
Des Smith played in 1977, 1979 and 1981.
Philip Walton played in 1995.
The method of selection of the British, the Great Britain and Ireland and the European teams has changed twenty-four times since its inauguration in 1927 when Harry Vardon, James Brand and J.H. Taylor first picked the team. Today, the team is picked with the top ten players selected by the amount of money earned on the European PGA tour. Also included is the Masters, the US Open, the PGA Championship together with the Three World Cup Championships with the prize money being accumulated from the European Masters in September the previous year, and finishing with the BMW International Open in early September of the year of the Ryder Cup. The team captain chooses his two wild cards after the BMW International Open is played.
The US team selection method has changed nineteen times since 1927 when according to Gene Sarazen the first few matches Hagen put "who he liked on the team".
Since 1993,the team is picked as follows: Points are awarded to players finishing in the top ten places on the PGA tour from early January to the PGA Championship in late August the year before the Ryder Cup is due to be played. The player who comes first is awarded 75 points, the player who comes second is awarded 45 points, descending by 5 points down to tenth spot. However, in the year of the Ryder Cup the points are doubled, so a first spot is worth 150 points, second 90 points and third 80,and so on. A player who has won a Major as against a regular tour event is awarded three times the number of points. Therefore, the winner collects 225 points, the second 135 points and the third 120 points.
However, for a US player to win or be in the top ten in the year of the Ryder Cup, the points are quadrupled as against the regular tour. A US player winning a Major in the year of the Ryder Cup will be awarded 300 points, coming second will earn 180 points, third 160 points, and so on.
When the PGA Championship is concluded, the top ten players will be determined by the number of points accumulated over the two-years period. The captain has the two wild cards, which he will pick on experience and/or form to do battle against the Europe.
The Ryder Cup, as we know it today, resulted from an informal conversation Jack Nicholas had with some PGA officials in 1977 at Royal Lytham and St. Anne's. With what was now appearing as an inevitable result, Great Britain and Ireland only having won one match and tied another over the past twenty years, interest was waning in the matches and another US victory was in sight.
Lord Derby, the President of the PGA of Great Britain, and Harry Poe, past President of the US PGA of America, had discussed how to improve the level of competition. Jack approached Lord Derby and put up a strong argument for the inclusion of the European players. The British PGA discussed the idea with the descendants of Sam Ryder who agreed the proposal and the European team became a reality. Jack was to suffer the irony of captaining the first US team to be beaten on US soil at Moorefield Village, in Dublin Ohio, in 1987, when Europe won 15 matches to US 13 matches. He is quoted as saying "Captaining the US team to its first loss at home at Moorefield Village in 1987,has to be my Ryder Cup low." He went on to say "looking back though, I am glad I was in that position because I wouldn't have wanted anybody else to go through all the criticism and anger and second guessing that came after the match ", which shows the character of the great man himself.
Another great contribution to the Ryder Cup, as we now know it, was undoubtedly that of the selection of Tony Jacklin in 1983 as Captain of the European Team. Jacklin was furious at being dropped from the 1981 team and when approached to take over the captaincy from John Jacobs he agreed only after much deliberation and only on the understanding that everything would be upgraded and improved. He went out of his way to make sure that the players felt they matched the Americans in every respect, not just the ability to play golf 'this was a tremendous psychological boost ", wrote John Hopkins of the Sunday Times. Tony Jacklin says "I told him what I wanted: Concorde, cashmere, caddies, first-class accommodation, three captains picks and such and such. Ken (Schofield) said they would have to think about it. Then they came back and agreed. I asked for more,' they kept saying yes. Clearly, the attitude had changed and everybody over here was tired of losing. We were just not going to take it any more".
The rest is history.
1983 PGA National Golf Club, Pebble Gardens from 14th to16th October: the USA shaded it 14 ½ to 13 ½
1985 The Belfry Golf & Country club from 13th to16th September Europe 16 ½ USA 11 ½
1987 Moorefield Village from 25th to27th September Europe 15 USA 13
1989 The Belfry Golf & Country Club from 22nd to 24th September Europe 14 USA 14
1991 Ocean Coast Kiawah Island from 27th to29th September USA 14 ½ Europe 13 ½
1993 The Belfry Golf & Country Club from 24th to26th September USA 15 Europe 13
1995 Oak Hill Country Club from 22nd to 24th September Europe 14 ½ USA 13 ½
1997 Valderama Spain from 26th to 28th September Europe 14 ½ USA 13 ½
1999 The Country Club Brooklyn from 24th to 26th September USA 14 ½ Europe 13 ½
2002 The Belfry from 27th to 29th September Europe 15 ½ USA 12 ½
2004 Oakland Hills Michegan 14th to 19th September Europe 18 ½ USA 9 ½
2006 K Club, Straffan, Co. Kildare, Ireland 22th to 24th September Europe 18 ½ USA 9 ½
2008 Valhalla, Golf Club, Louisville, Kentucky 19th to 21th September Europe11 ½ USA 16 ½
2010 Celtic Manor, Wales 1st to 4th October Europe 14 ½ USA 13 ½
2012 Medinach Country Club, Illinois 28th to 30th September Europe 14 ½ USA 13 ½
All a far cry from the good old days when the teams from this side of the Atlantic were led like lambs to the slaughter at home or away. For us on this small island where golf has become an incurable, national disease, we eagerly await the best golfers in the world to grace our shores for the first time en masse.
The Ryder Cup came to Ireland at the K Club, Co. Kildare in September 2006 with all the fan-fair associated with such an event. Tickets were quickly sold out for the practice days. Everybody cherished their tickets for the event and we were treated to a remarkable three days of golf. Suffice to say there were two Holes-in-One recorded in the 28-matches. Europe got the result the home-crowd wanted 18 ½ to 9 ½ and had Paul McGinley not consider a very difficult putt on the final green after a “streaker” appeared out of the crowd Europe might very well have recorded a historic victory over the USA. McGinley’s sportsmanship sums up the spirit in which the matches were played. One could write a book on the Ryder Cup in Ireland, indeed two have been written that we are aware of one by Darren Clarke and the other by Philip Reid (The Irish Times) both of which we would recommend to you.