Before the first official Ryder Cup took place in 1927, there were two unofficial matches played between British and American Professionals, both of which were won by the British.
The first match between the United States and Great Britain was in 1921 at The King’s Course in Gleneagles and the second one was held at Wentworth in 1926. Both matches were won by the British. The second match was undoubtedly the most significant of the two, because among those in the gallery was a man by the name of Samuel Ryder.
After Abe Mitchell and George Duncan teamed up to defeat Jim Barnes and Walter Hagen, in a bar later that night, Ryder suggested that this competition should take place again. Ryder then donated a small, but rather striking gold cup that now epitomizes the good nature of sporting competitions.
The next year, 1927, at the Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts, the first formalized competition was arranged and a Ryder Cup “Deed of Trust” was established, creating the rules of the contest. In early 1928 it became evident that an annual competition was not practical. It was then decided that the Ryder Cup was to become a biennial contest.
The first 22 matches were exclusively between the USA and Great Britain/Ireland, with the venue alternating between the two countries. However, in 1979 continental Europe joined the Ryder Cup with the addition of two Spanish golfers, Seve Ballesteros and Antonio Garrido.
Within the Ryder Cup, there are many different variations of match play competitions between players. Beginning on a Friday and concluding on a Sunday, the contest includes 28 matches played between two teams of twelve golfers. However, on the final day of the competition, all 12 players compete in 12 singles matches.
The winning team is determined by cumulative total points. In the event of a tie, if each team earns 14 points, the Ryder Cup is retained by the team who held it before the contest.
From the creation of the Ryder Cup back in 1927, the format has changed slightly over the years. For instance, in 1959 the Ryder Cup was only a two day competition. Then in 1979, the first years in which continental Europe joined the team, the format was changed to the 28 match version that is still in use today.
The most recent Ryder Cup took place in Scotland at the historic Gleneagles Golf Club, where the European Team won and completed a ‘hat-trick’ of three successive wins over Team USA at the most prestigious match play golf tournament in the world.