12 Things You Didn't Know About The Ryder Cup

Everything you need to know about golf's greatest show, between the best male players from the USA and Europe

12 Things You Didn't Know About The Ryder Cup
(Image credit: Future)

The Ryder cup is generally considered the pinnacle of team competition within the men's game. Here we bring you a few facts about the biennial battle between Europe and the USA... 

12 Things You Didn't Know About The Ryder Cup

1. The Ryder Cup trophy stands 17 inches tall and weighs 4 pounds. It was commissioned by the events founder Samuel Ryder in 1927 for the first official contest.

2. The first formal match was held at Worcester Country Club in Worcester, Massachusetts and resulted in a resounding 9 1/2 to 2 1/2 victory for the USA captained by the legendary Walter Hagen over Ted Ray's Great Britain.

3. After a US victory in 1937 at Southport and Ainsdale Golf Club in Southport, the next match was due to be played in 1939 however with war breaking rapidly across Europe, the competition endured a decade long break and didn't resume until 1947.

Photo of the United States Ryder Cup team from 1937

The US Ryder Cup team sailing from New York to compete at Southport & Ainsdale in 1937. The event would be the last for a decade.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

4. Between 1927 and 1977 the match was contested between Great Britain and the USA, however after a series of heavy defeats for the then GB&I team, the decision to extend the team to allow selection from continental Europe was taken for the 1979 match, giving birth to the contest we know today. 

5. There are 28 matches in total during the three day competition comprising 8 Fourball matches, 8 Foursomes matches and 12 Singles matches. The winner of each match receives 1 point for their team and if a match is halved each side receives 0.5 points meaning that a team needs to reach 14.5 points to win the trophy outright. If the match score is drawn at 14-14 then the current holders of the trophy retain it.

Photo of the Ryder Cup scoreboard from Gleneagles in 2014

(Image credit: Getty Images)

6. Since the inclusion of continental European players in 1979, Europe have won the trophy outright 11 times compared to the USA's 9 victories. There has been one tie in that period in 1989 at The Belfry, with Europe retaining the trophy due to their 1987 triumph.

7. The qualifying criteria for each team has changed over the years and can differ between teams. The early teams were generally decided upon by selection committees before merit based qualification systems were introduced. For this year's contest in Italy, both teams have six automatic qualification places and each captain will then have six captain picks to complete their teams of 12. 

8. Sergio Garcia is the youngest ever Ryder Cup player, making his debut at just 19 years old and is also Europe's all time leading points scorer with 28.5 points in total.

Photo of Sergio Garcia hitting a chip shot at the Ryder Cup

Sergio Garcia hitting a chip shot at the 2021 Ryder Cup 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

9. Phil Mickleson has the most Ryder Cup appearances on either side with 12, whilst Sir Nick Faldo leads the way for Europe with 11.

10. Each team captain will decide their pairings and order of play for the foursomes and fourball matches and will submit these privately. The first morning's matches are announced at the opening ceremony the night before the first day's play, with that afternoon's pairings being submitted by each captain shortly prior to the conclusion of the morning games. That process is repeated for the second day’s play and the captains will select the order they wish their teams to play in the final day's singles matches the night before.

Photo of Luke Donald and Zach Johnson holding the Ryder Cup trophy

US Captain Zach Johnson and Europe's captain Luke Donald holding the Ryder Cup trophy

(Image credit: Getty Images)

11. Prior to the singles matches, each captain is required to submit a sealed envelope with the name of  one of his players that he would like not to compete in the event of an injury withdrawal from the opposing team. Both of these players would then be awarded half a point. In the event they are not needed, the envelopes are destroyed unopened.

12. The figure on top of the Ryder Cup trophy is not Samuel Ryder. It is in fact a friend of Ryder’s named Abe Mitchell. Mitchell was a golf professional that Ryder had befriended and after Ryder became annoyed by American Walter Hagen’s conduct during a challenge match against his friend, he instructed a model of Mitchell to be placed on top of the trophy.

Joe Ferguson
Staff Writer


Joe has worked in the golf industry for over 12 years in a variety of roles. After a successful amateur career being involved in England squads at every age group, Joe completed his PGA degree qualification in 2014 as one of the top ten graduates in his training year and subsequently went on to become Head PGA Professional at Ryder Cup venue The Celtic Manor Resort. Equipment has always been a huge passion of Joe’s, and during his time at Celtic Manor, he headed up the National Fitting Centres for both Titleist and Taylormade.  He’s excited to bring his knowledge of hardware to Golf Monthly in the form of equipment reviews and buying advice. 

Joe lives in North Devon and still plays sporadically on the PGA West region circuit. His best round in recent years came earlier in 2023 where he managed a 9 under par 63 at Trevose GC in a Devon & Cornwall PGA Tournament.

Joe's current What's In The Bag? 

Driver: Taylormade M2 2017, 8.5° 

Fairway wood: Taylormade M2 Tour 2017, 13.5°  

Irons: Srixon ZX7 3-PW

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 Raw, 50F, 54M and 60T

Putter: Odyssey Toe Up #9

Ball: 2023 Titleist Pro V1x