Golf is not typically a team sport. Certainly a foursome may decide to lighten the mood by playing “best ball,” but typically one measures against oneself and the course. That’s what makes the Ryder Cup such a unique and thrilling event.
This biennial tournament features 24 of the greatest golfers from Europe and the United States battling for pride and bragging rights in front of millions who view it around the world.
It’s an event that has changed with the times, but kept itself steeped in tradition. The Ryder Cup is a modern media event that harkens back to its founding in 1927, and a decidedly team event for a singularly individual sport. Let’s take a look at the history of this event!
History and Facts:
- Originally started as the United States vs Great Britain in 1927, the European team has expanded with the spread of the sport across the continent, first adding Irish and Northern Irish players in the 1950s. The biggest change happened in 1979 when the Great Britain team expanded to include all of Europe, which at the time allowed them to recruit such golf legends as Seve Ballesteros and Bernard Langher.
- The format has changed much since its origins, but the modern Ryder Cup era has settled into three distinct match play types.
- Foursomes – Played between teams of two, this round has teammates alternating shots and sharing the same ball for 18 holes. One player from each team is designated to tee off on the odd holes, the other the even holes. Lowest combined score for each hole wins the hole.
- Fourballs – Played by teams of two, each player plays his own ball for 18 holes, the lowest score for each team is the score for the hole and the other player’s score is ignored.
- Singles Match – one on one, lower score wins the hole. The dramatic end after two days of team matches, this final day of match play has lead to some of the most memorable moments in the history of the event.
- Since the 1980s the Cup has spent the vast majority of its time on the continent, but the US dominated the early years of the competition, holding the cup every year from 1935-1985, except one!
And for those of you who missed it, in the fall of 2022 the Italian capital city of Rome will host the Ryder Cup for the first time!