Medinah Country Club, outside Chicago, Illinois, is set to host the 2012 Ryder Cup. While certainly a well-known competition within the golf world, the Ryder Cup offers a few potentially confusing elements for the casual fan.
Here are five things to know about the Ryder Cup:
The Ryder Cup is a biennial golf event played with a team format. Samuel Ryder, an English businessman, donated the cup that still bears his name. The first "official" Ryder Cup contest was held in 1927. The competition has continued every two years since then, with some interruptions along the way. World War II caused a shutdown of the Ryder Cup from 1939-1945, and the event was cancelled in 2001 due to the terrorist attacks in the United States.
The team format originallycalled for a team of professional golfers from the United States to take on a team from Great Britain. Irish golfers were used by the Great Britain team starting in 1947, and for the 1973, 1975, and 1977 competitions the team name was changed to "Great Britain and Ireland." The 2012 teams will include 12 golfers, captained by Davis Love III for the U.S. and Jose Maria Olazabel for Europe.
The first Ryder Cup competition was held at Worcester Country Club in Worcester, Massachusetts. The U.S. team, captained by the great Walter Hagen, prevailed by the lopsided score of 9 1/2-2 1/2. In fact, from the start of the competition to 1983, the U.S. lost outright (not counting ties, when the current champion team retains the cup), just three times -- 1929, 1933, and 1957.
The current format alternates between foursomes and fourball matches the first two days with 12 singles matches on the last day. In foursomes (also called alternate shot), two-player teams alternate hitting the ball. If one player holes the putt, his partner hits the tee shot on the next hole. In fourball matches, each player plays the entire hole using his own ball. The team then takes the best score of the two players. On the final day of the event, 12 singles matches are sent out consecutively. All matches throughout the event are played at match play rather than stroke play.
The major change in team format came in 1979. Players from Europe were added to the existing Great Britain and Ireland team. Until then, the U.S. had dominated the Ryder Cup. But after the Europeans were added, it quickly turned into an intense competition. The Euros broke through in 1985 at the Belfry, and the U.S. team has only won four times since then. The 1991 Ryder Cup, a particularly intense affair, was held at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, and dubbed "The War on the Shore." That version of the Ryder Cup was said to have helped turn the Ryder Cup into the highly popular event it is today.
Brad Boeker has been a fan of professional golf for over 30 years. He still wishes Greg Norman could have a mulligan for the 1996 Masters.
- Sports & Recreation
- Samuel Ryder