How Did The Ryder Cup Get Its Name?

The Ryder cup is one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world, and one that has become something of a beacon for every high level male golfer on the planet.

How Did The Ryder Cup Get Its Name

Based on alternating courses between the United States and Europe, the Ryder cup draws the best of the best from all across the world. 

But how exactly did the Ryder cup get its name, and when did it become such a prestigious event? 

What Is The Ryder Cup? 

The Ryder cup is a biennial golfing tournament that takes place between teams from the United States and Europe.

Originally a contest between the United States and Great Britain, the representation of ‘Great Britain and Ireland’ was extended in 1979 to include countries from all across continental Europe. 

When Was The First Ryder Cup? 

The first Ryder cup took place in 1927, and has occurred every other year since then, originally featuring teams from the United States and Great Britain, before the latter was extended to include golfers from continental Europe. 

The first Ryder cup was held in Worcester, Massachusetts, at Worcester Country Club, wherein the American team won every match within the cup.

This continual American domination led to the inclusion of golfers from other European countries – something that was put into effect in the decades following the Second World War. 

What European Countries Are Involved? 

As well as players from the United Kingdom and the Republic Of Ireland, the ‘British’ team also includes golfers from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, and Sweden. 

Since the inclusion of foreign players after 1979, the European team has won 11 times outright, and retained the cup once in a tied match, whilst the American team has won 9 times during the same period. 

Since 1979, the European team has won four times away on foreign soil, while the American team has won twice on foreign soil. 

Where Does Its Name Come From? 

The name ‘Ryder’ comes from Samuel Ryder – a British businessman from whom the trophy was donated.

A golf enthusiast and promoter, Ryder originated in the seed business – selling ‘penny packets’ and creating a successful business that left him wealthy. 

Coming to golf later in life, when his friend suggested he take up the sport to get more exercise and fresh air, Ryder quickly became enthralled by the game, developing his own skills and joining the Verulam Golf Club – of which he became a serving member of the greens committee for 20 years. 

Following an encounter with up and coming golfers Ernest, Charles, and Reg Whitcombe during a family vacation to Dorset, Ryder became aware of social discrepancies between American players and British ones – with Ernest Whitcomb remarking that the American players had hefty financial backers, and that young British players couldn’t afford to compete at the highest level. 

This convinced Ryder that something needed to be done – beginning with a series of large sponsorships and donations to golfing organizations, as well as the eventual Ryder cup, donating the trophy in 1927. 

What Are The Rules? 

What Are The Rules 

The Ryder cup is composed of various match plays between players selected from two teams of twelve.

A match play is where the scores are derived from holes won against other players, rather than the number of strokes taken to put the ball. 

Taking place across a weekend, there are four ‘four ball’ matches and four foursome matches on Friday and Saturday (four in the morning and four in the afternoon), and then 12 single matches on the Sunday, wherein each member of both teams has the opportunity to play. 

Each match won represents a point for the associated team, as well as half a point being earned for each tie after 18 holes. 

What Is A ‘Foursome’ Match? 

A foursome match involves a competition between two teams of two golfers.

On each individual home, one golfer from each team takes turns on a single ball – with opposing team members teeing off on opposite and even holes to make it fair. 

What Is A ‘Four Ball’ Match? 

Also featuring two players from two opposing teams, a four ball match consists of each player using their own ball through alternating shots – as opposed to sharing the same ball as in the foursome matches. 

The best score of a particular team’s players determines their overall score within the match. 

Has The Ryder Cup Ever Been Canceled? 

During its almost 100 hundred year run, the Ryder cup has only been canceled or postponed 6 times. 

The first cancellation was in 1939, following the outbreak of the Second World War – when Great Britain and its allies were involved in fighting across central Europe against Germany and the axis powers. 

This cancellation continued throughout the 1941, 1943, and 1945 Ryder cups, while the war continued to rage throughout Europe, Africa, and the Pacific theater – the latter years of the war also signaling the United States’ entry into the war. 

Following this, the next cancellation didn’t occur until 2001, when the cup coincided closely with the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on the 11th September 2001.

In so much shock was the American team – as was the entire world – that it was not considered feasible for the cup to go ahead. 

The most recent cancellation of the Ryder cup was in 2020, when the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic meant that gatherings and sporting events throughout the world were forced to cancel their competitions, and unfortunately close their doors to spectators. 

Final Thoughts

And there we have it, everything you need to know about the Ryder cup, and the origins of the name. 

The Ryder cup is known the world over for its prestige, and for the caliber of golfers that it attracts – becoming a household name amongst golf enthusiasts and casual observers alike.

Garratt Shmidt
Latest posts by Garratt Shmidt (see all)