Ryder Cup Trophy: History, How It Got Its Name And All You Need To Know

The Ryder Cup is one of the most prestigious occasions in the game, but what is the history of the trophy the teams compete for?

The Ryder Cup trophy
The Ryder Cup trophy was made almost a century ago
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Ryder Cup has been one of the most prestigious occasions in the game for decades, as the Europeans and Americans compete over three days for the iconic trophy. But what is the history of the coveted prize awarded to the winner? 

The story of the trophy begins with Samuel A Ryder, who the trophy is named after. Ryder was a seed merchant from England who was born in 1858 and, from the age of 50, took up golf and began promoting local tournaments.

Eventually, in 1927, he commissioned the Mappin & Webb Co. to make a trophy, which he donated as the prize for the winning team in a proposed golf match between players from the US and Great Britain - the first Ryder Cup.

The trophy is made of gold and cost around £250 ($310) to make, which in today's money would be approximately £13,000 ($16,000), and Ryder then presented it to the Professional Golfers’ Association of Great Britain and Ireland. 

As for that first Ryder Cup match, it took place at Worcester Country Club in Worcester, Massachusetts. It featured four foursomes and eight singles matches and was won by the US team by 9.5 points to 2.5 points. The victory was largely attributed to more accurate putting from the Americans.

The trophy was designed as a golden chalice and, while it would be easy to assume the figure of the man on top is Ryder, it is actually Abe Mitchell, who was a friend of Ryder's as well as his golf coach and an accomplished player. 

Indeed, Mitchell had plenty of success in the game, with several top-10 finishes in Majors. He went on to play in three Ryder Cups, too, in 1929, 1931 and 1933, with Europe winning twice, and Mitchell accumulating an overall record of 4-2-0.

Abe Mitchell at the 1929 Ryder Cup at Moortown Golf Club, West Yorkshire

The figure on top of the Ryder Cup is Abe Mitchell, who played in three editions of the match

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The trophy is 17 inches tall, while it measures nine inches from handle to handle, with a weight of only four pounds. Meanwhile, the wooden base at the bottom has the scores of each match engraved into it.

The trophy received by the winning team is a replica owned by the PGA of America, while the original resides at the Professional Golfers’ Association of Great Britain and Ireland. There is also a replica that is used for promotional purposes, while players and captains of the winning team receive another replica standing 12 inches in height.

When it began, the Ryder Cup didn't have nearly the significance it has today. However, by 1973, the British team had expanded to include Ireland, and, six years later, it changed again, to include all of continental Europe. That modest trophy commissioned almost a century ago has grown in stature, too, and nowadays is one of the most iconic in sport.

Who Is The Figure On The Ryder Cup Trophy?

Many people assume the figure on the trophy represents the man who commissioned it in 1927, English seed merchant Samuel A Ryder. However, in fact it is golfer Abe Mitchell, a friend and coach of Ryder's who eventually played in the match three times. 

Where Was The Ryder Cup Trophy Made?

The Ryder Cup trophy was made in Sheffield, England by the Mappin & Webb Co in 1927 after being commissioned by seed merchant Samuel A Ryder. He donated it as the prize for the winning team in a match between players from the US and Great Britain - the first Ryder Cup.

How Much Is The Ryder Cup Trophy Worth?

The original Ryder Cup trophy, which was commissioned in 1927 and is made of gold, cost around £250 ($310) to make, which in today's money would be around £13,000 ($16,000). 

Sam Tremlett
E-commerce Editor

A golfer for most of his life, Sam is Golf Monthly's E-commerce Editor.

Working with golf gear and equipment over the last six years, Sam has quickly built outstanding knowledge and expertise on golf products ranging from drivers, to balls, to shoes. 

He combines this knowledge with a passion for helping golfers get the best gear for them, and as such Sam manages a team of writers that look to deliver the most accurate and informative reviews and buying advice. This takes the form of buying guides, reviews, supporting gear content as well as creating deal content.

This is so the reader can find exactly what they are looking for, at a good price.

Sam now spends most of his time testing and looking after golf gear content for the website, whilst he is also responsible for all content related to golf apparel. 

Additionally Sam oversees Golf Monthly voucher/coupon content which seeks to find you the best offers and promotions from well-known brands like Callaway, TaylorMade and many more.

Unfortunately, Sam is not a member of any club at the moment but regularly gets out on the golf course to keep up the facade of having a single-figure handicap. 

Sam's What's In The Bag: 

Driver: Cobra LTDxLS (9 degrees) 

Fairway Wood: Ping G430 Max (15 degrees), Nike Covert Tour 2.0 (19 degrees) 

Irons (4-PW): Titleist AP2 

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 54˚, 58˚ 

Putter: Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5.5 

Ball: Srixon Z-Star Diamond

Shoes: G/FORE Gallivanter/Nike Air Zoom Victory Tour 3/Cuater The Ringer (For off the course he goes for Nike Jordan 1 Low G shoes as well)

With contributions from