The History of the Ryder Cup

In just 7 months, the Ryder Cup 2018 will begin, hosted at Le Golf National, Paris, France. Held once every two years, the competition is one of the most anticipated events in the international golfing calendar. As we move closer to the big event, we’ve had a look back at the history of the Ryder Cup.

Here’s what you need to know:

How did the Ryder Cup Start?

Although it is often stated that the Ryder Cup began in 1921, the Ryder Cup officially started in 1927.

Two unofficial matches were played between golf professional from Great Britain and the United States, with the first occurring at Gleneagles Golf Club, Scotland in 1921, and the second hosted by Wentworth Golf Club, England.

An English seed merchant called Samuel Ryder watched the second match and having recently taken up golf, was delighted by the event. Ryder was so moved by the competition that he donated a small gold cup, with a small golfing figure at the top as a lasting memorial to a popular golfer, and Ryder’s personal tutor, Abe Mitchell. This cup is still used as the Ryder Cup trophy.

Europe in the Ryder Cup

The United States of America played the first 22 Ryder Cup matches against Great Britain and Ireland. It wasn’t until 1979 that players from continental Europe were eligible to play in the Ryder Cup.

By the 1970’s, The European Tour had become more diverse, and players from all nationalities, and in particular, the continent, were playing. However, it wasn’t until 1977, during the Ryder Cup at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, England, that the golf legend Jack Nicklaus highlighted the need to improve the competitive level of the contest.  The U.S.A had won all but one Ryder Cup from 1959 to 1977, with the only exception being the iconic match in 1969 at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England. By allowing players from continental Europe to play, a greater pool of talent could be drawn on.

Past Ryder Cup Winners & Captains

Until players from continental Europe were eligible to play in the Ryder Cup, the USA dominated the competition, winning 18 of the first 22 matches, with Great Britain and Ireland winning three and the famous tie of the 1969 contest.

However, once the competition became a match between USA and Europe, the Ryder Cup transformed into a competitive display of sportsmanship, drama, camaraderie and of course, excellent golf.

Whilst there are have been many memorable moments in the last 41 Ryder Cup matches, we’ve shared some of our favourite stats:

  • Captained by Bernard Langer, Europe achieved the largest margin of victory in 2004 at Oakland Hills, Michigan and again in 2006 at Straffan, Ireland.
  • Sir Nick Faldo holds the record for the most Ryder Cup Appearances, taking part in 11 competitions and 46 matches between 1977 and 1997. He also holds the record for the most matches won, achieving a total of 23.
  • Although Sir Nick Faldo holds the record for the most points won, Neil Coles and Colin Montgomerie jointly hold the most single points won, beating Faldo by ½ point. Interestingly, Faldo is also ½ behind Bernhard Langer for the Most Foursome Points Won, achieving 11 points and 11 ½ points respectively.
  • Ironically, the USA has won all the points in a Foursomes series 4 times. Both the USA and Europe have won all the points in a Four-Ball series twice, but no team has ever won all the singles matches.

Past Ryder Cup Venues

Thanks to its long history, there are plenty of past Ryder Cup venues that you can play on yourself! Here are just a few of our favourites:


Host to the 2014 Ryder Cup, Gleneagles Resort offers three outstanding championship golf courses. Accessible via transfer from Edinburgh Airport, the resort is located in Perthshire, Scotland, and combines spectacular scenery with world-class golf.

Real Club Valderrama

Considered to be the best golf course in Spain, Real Club Valderrama is located on the famous Costa del Sol and hosted the 1997 Ryder Cup. Easily accessed by a transfer from Gibraltar Airport, Malaga Airport or Jerez Airport, the course is consistently ranked one of the best in the world.

Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Located in the coastal resort of Southport, the Royal Birkdale Golf Club has hosted more Championship and International events since World War 2 than any other course in the world. Regularly ranked amongst the top 35 golf clubs in the world, the course hosted the 1965 and 1969 Ryder Cups.

Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club

Host to the 1961 and 1997 Ryder Cup and eleven Open Championships, the Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club is easily accessed by a transfer from Manchester Airport or Liverpool Airport. A well-established golf club in North West England, Royal Lytham offers a premier links course in an authentic setting.

Southport and Ainsdale Golf Club

Easily accessed by transfer from Manchester Airport and Liverpool Airport, Southport and Ainsdale Golf Club hosted the 1933 and 1937 Ryder Cups. Located in North West England, the club offers an exceptional championship course and first-class golf facilities.

The Belfry Hotel & Resort

Located close to Birmingham Airport, the Belfy course has hosted more Ryder Cup matches than any other venue in the world. Host to the 1985, 1989, 1993 and 2002 tournaments, the resort offers three stunning courses routed through North Warwickshire countryside.

The K Club

Just 17 miles west of Dublin and Dublin Airport, the K Club has a spectacular international reputation. Host to the 2006 Ryder Cup, the 216 Dubai Free Irish Open and 13 European Opens, the club offers two exceptional courses designed by the iconic Arnold Palmer.

We hope this guide to the history of the Ryder Cup has prepared you for the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le National, Paris, France. Whether you are attending this year’s Ryder Cup or want to play in the footsteps of golfing legends at past Ryder Cup venues, Golf-Drives can provide hassle-free transport. Offering transfers from the airport to the hotel, hotel to the course and back again, Golf-Drives can take of all your golf holiday transfers.