The Ryder Cup is held every 2 years, when 24 of the best male golfers from Europe (12) and the US (12) team-up in a match play competition.
Match play is a head-to-head competition, whereas stroke play is an individual pursuit against the entire field.
The US has won the Ryder Cup 27 times, Europe now 15 times with its win on Sunday. This was Europe’s 7th consecutive victory on home soil. It has won 10 of the last 14 Ryder Cups.
Does the Ryder Cup have anything to do with Ryder trucks? No. Founded in Miami in 1933 by James Ryder as a concrete hauling company, Ryder is now a $12+ billion fleet management, supply chain and transportation solutions company. But it has nothing to do with the Ryder Cup.
Enter another Ryder … Samuel Ryder. He was a British mail order garden and herbal remedy seed merchant who didn’t play golf until his late 40’s to get some fresh air and exercise.
While holidaying in Dorset, England, which included practicing his new-found sport, Ryder met the extremely talented Whitcombe brothers, but was aghast to learn that they couldn’t afford to play in large tournaments. In 1923, Ryder’s Health and Heather herbal remedy company sponsored at 36-hole invitational tournament – the first to offer pros guaranteed prize money.
“The Americans come over here smartly dressed and backed by wealthy supporters, the Britisher has a poor chance compared to that.” (Ernest Whitcombe, professional golfer in the 1920s and 30s. This observation spurred Samuel Ryder to level the playing field)
Afterwards Ryder put Abe Mitchell on the payroll as his personal instructor, hoping to challenge Americans in the British Open Championship.
In 1926, England’s renowned Wentworth Club (formerly a private residence for the extended family of the Duke of Wellington) hosted a match between American and British teams prior to the Open Championship. The Brits won, setting the stage for an ongoing rivalry. Every 2 years since, the 2 sides take turns hosting the Ryder Cup.
Fast-forward to 2023. The Ryder Cup is still going strong, and this weekend the EU team (no longer limited to Brits) comprised of players from England, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Spain, Norway, Austria, Denmark and Sweden were victorious in Italy.
The Marco Simone Golf and Country Club is a 25-minute drive outside of Rome. It first hosted the Ryder Cup in 2015. The centerpiece of the property is an 11th century castle that sits between the 6th and 8th holes and overlooks much of the spectacular golf course. The family’s 3rd generation global luxury fashion business, Biagiotti, is headquartered there. The famous astronomer, physicist and engineer Galileo Galilei once lived on the property. The superintendent of the golf course is 33-year-old Spaniard Lara Arias, a rarity in the male-dominated industry (women account for only 2% of the profession).
The team captains were Luke Donald for Europe and Zach Johnson for the US:
- Donald, 46, describes himself as half Scottish, but plays golf for England. He has been swinging clubs since childhood, and took a golf scholarship at Northwestern University, where he studied art theory and practice. His accomplishments are numerous, including achieving #1 World Golfer status
- Zach Johnson, 47, helms from Iowa City and, like Donald, grew up with clubs in hand. He won the Masters in 2007 and the Open Championship in 2015
In the end, 32-year-old Tommy Fleetwood, twice Top 10 Open Championship player, delivered the winning stroke.
Is anyone wondering about the women? Do they compete in the Ryder Cup? No. Their equivalent is known as the Solheim Cup. It, too, is played on a biennial basis, with Europe and the US duking it out. It was first staged in 1990 and is usually held on alternating years with the Ryder Cup. Due to COVID restrictions, it was also held this year, with Europe defeating Team USA.
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