Golf fever is mounting with only a few days left until the world’s best golfers tee off for the 42nd Ryder Cup.

Arguably the most exciting golf contest of the calendar sees golf fanatics from across the Atlantic and Europe descend upon the Albatros Course of Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, a suburb southwest of Paris on the outskirts of historic Versailles, France.

Most people have heard of the Ryder Cup but do you know the history, how teams are picked and anything about this year’s course? We’ve put together 20 Great Ryder Cup Golf Facts to educate and amuse, and hopefully whet your appetite for the game fondly referred to as ‘…a good walk spoiled’ – Mark Twain.

20 GREAT RYDER CUP GOLF FACTS

1. The Birth of the Ryder Cup

There were two unofficial matches between professionals from Great Britain and the United States before the birth of The Ryder Cup in 1927, both won by the British. The first was played at Gleneagles in 1921 but the second of these, held at Wentworth in 1926, was undoubtedly the most significant for among those in the gallery was a man called Samuel Ryder.

2. The Trophy

The Ryder Cup competition is named after English businessman Samuel Ryder who famously donated the gold trophy for the competition in 1927. However, Ryder is not depicted on top of the trophy, but his golf instructor Abe Mitchell. The Ryder Cup is now one of the hottest contested trophies in sport.

3. The Teams Weren’t Always Europe and USA

Nowadays the Ryder Cup matches pit the United States against all of Europe, but that was not always the case. From 1927 to 1979 the International opponents to the USA were only made up of players from Great Britain. It was decided to open the team to all of Europe in 1979 with the aim of making the matches more competitive as the USA won all but one of the matches from 1935-85.

4. 28 Years Undefeated

Europe had to wait a staggering 28 years to win the cup from the USA in 1985 after an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole by an emotional Sam Torrance for a 1-up victory at The Belfry, Warwickshire. Legends such as Sandy Lyle, Seve Ballesteros, Ian Woosnam and Bernard Langer joined Torrance in celebrating the win with Europe team captain Tony Jacklin.

5. Most Ryder Cup Points

Sir Nick Faldo holds the record for the most Ryder Cup points with an astonishing 25. Faldo competed in 11 Ryder Cups with a record of 23-19-4.

6. The War Intervenes

If you run your eyes down the list of past Ryder Cup results you will notice a 10-year gap. That’s because from 1937 to 1947 no matches were played due to WWII.

7. A Family Affair

The European team have seen 3 sets of brothers compete: Charles, Ernest and Reg Whitcombe, 1935; Bernard and Geoffrey Hunt, 1963E and Eduardo and Francesco Molinari, 2010.

8. How the Teams are Picked?

The European and US teams have 12 players each chosen by a captain. It’s up to the captain to decide who he wants to play in the 28 matches that are played over the three days of the competition.

The 2018 European Team will comprise:
  • Captain Thomas Bjorn (non-playing)
  • First 4 players from the European Points List
  • Leading 4 players from the World Points List
  • 4 wild cards (Captain’s picks)
The 2018 US Team will comprise:
  • Captain Jim Furyk
  • The top 8 in the points rankings
  • 4 wild cards (Captain’s picks)

Points and new regulations have changed slightly this year, so for a full explanation of how players qualify, visit the official Ryder Cup page here: How the European and American Teams are picked for the Ryder Cup.

9. The Captain’s Don’t Actually Play

Did you know captains don’t actually play? The last playing captain for the Europe was Dai Rees in 1961, and the last for the USA was Arnold Palmer in 1963, from then to now the captains just pick the pairings and watch the golf!

10. What is Match Play?

Match play is a scoring system for golf in which a player, or team, earns a point for each hole in which they have bested their opponents; as opposed to stroke play, in which the total number of strokes is counted over one or more rounds of 18 holes. Match play encourages more aggressive play as players are looking to win the hole outright. It’s all about beating your opponent!

Lou Guzzi at PGA.com demonstrates it perfectly in this short video and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) provide a comprehensive guide to the Rules of Golf and Golf equipment.

11. Ryder Cup Play Format

Each of the first two days includes one four-match session of four-ball and one four-match session of foursomes. The final day sees 12 singles matches.

12. Match Scoring Explained

Each match is worth one point. If a match ends in a draw, each side is awarded ½ a point each. The first team to reach 14 ½ points wins the Ryder Cup. Should the matches end in a 14-14 draw, the team holding the Ryder Cup gets to retain it.

13. Albatros – The Ryder Cup 2018 Golf Course

Designed by architects Hubert Chesneau – read his account of the inception of the Golf National here and Robert Von Hagge, in collaboration with Pierre Thevenin. The Albatros course is home to the French Open – the oldest national open in Continental Europe and is actually one of two courses found at Le Golf National. The course opened in October 1990 and has experienced significant renovation in preparation for the 42nd Ryder Cup in 2018. There are few trees reflecting the architects’ understandable reluctance to wait decades for the course to mature. As part of the renovations in preparation for the Ryder Cup, 17 new bunkers have been built, 28 original ones reconstructed,  two new lakes constructed and four new pro tees added.

14. Course Manager Alejandro Reyes

Golf Courses and Estates Manager, Alejandro Reyes, has been tasked with creating a Ryder Cup landscape using the 7,331 yards of The Albatros course. The past year has seen him testing supplements to ensure the course is in tip-top condition and doesn’t suffer the same affliction as ‘baked and bald’ Carnoustie did for the British Open and overseeing the huge drainage project of 2017. Watch this great Turf Matter’s interview with the charismatic course manager.

15. Unique Course Layout

The incredible ‘stadium finish’ consists of the last four holes, set in a bowl circled by stunning lakes – and yes, dyes are in the water to enhance their looks.  A dream setting for the roaring Ryder Cup crowds to enjoy climatic classic match play golf. The unique undulating layout of the Ryder Cup course also favours spectators who can get an enviable up-close view of play pretty much anywhere along the course.

16. The Sealed Envelope

So what happens if a player gets hurt during the competition and can’t compete in the Sunday singles matches? Well, before play begins, each captain puts one name into a sealed envelope and in the instance that there is an injury on the opposing team, the player inside that envelope sits out. Thankfully, the envelope has only been used three times in the history of the competition.

17. Draws

The Ryder Cup has ended in a draw two times, both in 1969 and then 20 years later in 1989. As previously mentioned, on a tie, the team that previously won retains the cup.

18. Not Just 3 Days of Golf

When you think of The Ryder Cup, no doubt the first thing that comes to mind is three days of consistent match play golf. This is undeniably golf’s greatest team contest, but there is much more to a Ryder Cup Week than you may have realised with a whole host of events including celebrity matches, past Captains matches and the Junior Ryder Cup that lead up to the play we see on tv.

19. Junior Ryder Cup

The Disneyland Golf Course is hosting the Junior Ryder Cup on September 24th and 25th with the 24 most talented young golfers of their generation. It’s Europe versus the USA, just like its big sister a few days later, and brings together the best golfers under 18 for two days of incredible competition. Led by French captain Maïtena Alsuguren, the European team will try to win the cup back from the USA this time round.

20. Ryder Cup 2020

Preparations are already in place for the 2020 Ryder Cup which will be held Whistling Straits, Wisconsin. The course graces the shore of Lake Michigan and has played host to three PGA Championships (2004, 2010 and 2015). Although Ryder Cup tickets for 2020 are not yet available,  you can register your interest to ensure you’re first in line!

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