Publish date:

Why Is It Called the Ryder Cup?

Here's how the biennial competition between the top European and American golfers on tour earned its name.

The first Ryder Cup was played in 1927 at Worcester Country Club in Worcester, Mass. The competition is named after its founder, Samuel Ryder, a British seed merchant from St. Albans, England.

Ryder was also a Sunday school superintendent, a church elder, and mayor of St. Albans. Despite not playing golf competitively, he became an avid fan after being intrdoduced to the sport at 50 years old. (For those curious: active American golfer Sam Ryder is not related to the Ryder Cup founder. Nor was he named after him.)

Prior to the 1927 competition, two informal renditions of the competition took place in Great Britain at Gleneagles (1921) and Wentworth (1926). Ryder was not involved in organizing the 1921 event. The 1926 competition took place, but only featured one American player because of a countrywide transit strike in Great Britain that year.

In 1927, the British PGA and Ryder formalized a deed of trust to commence a formal, official match between a 12-man British team and a 12-team American team. 

SI Recommends

Ryder commissioned the Ryder Cup trophy, paying £250 for a 17-inch, four-pound cup, which features the image of former English golfer Abe Mitchell on the top. The trophy is the only winnable prize, as no cash winnings are awarded to the winners.

Today, the Ryder Cup is a biennial, point-based competition played every two years between a 12-man American squad and 12-man European squad (continental European players were allowed to compete starting in 1979). It's a three-day event, featuring three different types of match play—four-ball, foursomes, singles. The first team to 14.5 points wins.

To understand how scoring for the non-singles events work, read our four-ball and foursome explainers.