1927 - 1937
192791/221/2Worcester Country Club, Worcester, MassachusettsBeginning with the first formal match, the U.S. Ryder Cup Team elected to field a team of native-born Americans. Only Walter Hagen, Bill Mehlhorn and Al Watrous remained from the informal U.S. squad of the previous year that had competed at Wentworth. The British team was virtually intact from 1926, with the exception of Charles Whitcombe, who replaced his brother Ernie, and Ted Ray, who took over the captain’s duties from Abe Mitchell, who was diagnosed with appendicitis. The British Team sailed on the Aquitania from Southampton, a six-day journey. The competition at Worcester Country Club featured four foursomes and eight singles matches. The Americans won nine matches, with only two defeats and one half. Ray later summed up the initial matches: “One of the chief reasons for our failure was the superior putting of the American team. They holed out much better than we did.”
192975Moortown Golf Club, Leeds, EnglandA crowd estimated at 10,000 turned out both days to witness Great Britain rally to a 7-5 victory over a Walter Hagen-led team. After trailing 2.5 to 1.5 in the opening-day foursomes, the hosts displayed outstanding play in the singles at Moortown Golf Club. The Ryder Cup marked the debut of Sir Henry Cotton, a 22-year-old who would eventually go on to win three British Open titles. It was the first time in Ryder Cup competition that two brothers, Charles and Ernest Whitcombe, competed together. And, it was a case of generosity by Hagen that may have cost the U.S. a victory. In one of the most stunning matches of any Ryder Cup competition, Duncan routed Hagen, 10 and 8. Meanwhile, Great Britain’s Archie Compston sailed past Gene Sarazen, 6 and 4, and Sir Henry Cotton downed Al Watrous, 4 and 3, to secure the Ryder Cup trophy.
193193Scioto Country Club, Columbus, OhioWhat amounted to an easy 9-3 U.S. victory over Great Britain at Scioto Country Club could be attributed more to the circumstances that preceded the Ryder Cup than to the stifling heat that the Americans used to their advantage in the second-day singles.
The British were without three outstanding players for two reasons. The original Ryder Cup Deed of Trust declared that all members of both teams must be natives of, and residing in, the country they represented. Percy Alliss was attached to the Wansee Club in Berlin (though he moved back to England later that year with his wife and son, Peter) and Aubrey Boomer was a member at both St. Cloud in Paris and the Royal Golf Club in Belgium. Sir Henry Cotton was sidelined because he preferred to remain in the U.S. after the Ryder Cup and had arranged for his own transportation.
The Professional Golfers’ Association of Great Britain sought to have Cotton join the team for the duration of the Ryder Cup and failed to reach an accommodation when Cotton had already scheduled himself earlier into several American events. During the competition at Scioto, U.S. Captain Walter Hagen teamed with rookie Denny Shute for a 10-and-9 foursomes victory over George Duncan and A.G. Havers.
Later, Hagen added an impressive 4-and-3 singles victory over Charles Whitcombe.
193361/251/2Southport and Ainsdale Golf Club, Southport, EnglandAmerica had yet to establish its golf supremacy worldwide, and neither the British nor their visitors had won on the other team’s home soil. British golf enthusiasts could not have dreamed that this exciting 6.5 to 5.5 victory would be their country’s last Ryder Cup triumph for 24 years. (Six of those years would be taken up with World War II.)
With 15,000 spectators eagerly following the action, the last singles match proved to be one of the most exciting finishes in Ryder Cup history. Britain’s Syd Easterbrook and American Denny Shute were all square on the final green facing par putts of approximately 30 feet each. Easterbrook putted first and left his approach putt within tap-in range. Shute hit his first putt four feet past the hole and missed the comeback putt. The trophy went back to Britain and tied the series, 2-2.
It was the last Ryder Cup that namesake Samuel Ryder would attend. He died in 1936. Shute, meanwhile, recovered from his bitter defeat by winning the Open Championship at St. Andrews in a playoff over fellow American Craig Wood.
193593Ridgewood Country Club, Ridgewood, New JerseyGreat Britain sent the triumvirate of Whitcombe brothers — Charles, Ernest and Reg — but they did little to alter the home-course advantage for the Americans, who were boosted by the play of Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen, Paul Runyan and Horton Smith, and the duo of Henry Picard and Johnny Revolta in the opening foursomes. Picard and Revolta turned in the “narrowest” victory for the three sets of U.S. stars, with a 6-and-5 conquest of Percy Alliss and Alf Padgham.
Hagen, competing for the final time in his remarkable Ryder Cup career, joined Sarazen for a 7-and-6 romp over Alf Perry and Jack Busson. Britain’s Charles and Ernest Whitcombe combined for the only foursome victory, a 1-up decision over Olin Dutra and Ky Laffoon. However, Captain Charles Whitcombe elected to sit out the singles as he apparently felt all three Whitcombes in the matches at the same time was unfair to other teammates. Hagen did the same and watched happily from the gallery as his team eased to a 6-2 domination of the singles and a 9-3 overall victory. Hagen retired from competing in the event he had helped launch with a 7-1-1 record.
193748Southport and Ainsdale Golf Club, Southport, EnglandThe first victory by a U.S. Ryder Cup Team on British soil was achieved by a balanced unit featuring rookies Sam Snead, runner-up in that year’s U.S. Open, Byron Nelson and Ed Dudley. Walter Hagen served as non-playing captain for the first time, while his team faced the most unpleasant weather in the series. The U.S. built a 2-1-1 lead after the first-day foursomes and headed into the second day, which featured eight singles matches contested in pouring rain through most of the competition. Midway through the final day, Sir Henry Cotton managed a 5-and-3 victory over Tony Manero. That produced a 4-4 tie that gave the British momentary hope.
The singles matches, contested over 36 holes, however, featured an “intermission.” By lunch, the Americans had the advantage in three of the last four singles, and Percy Alliss retained the final bid for the British with a 1-up lead over Gene Sarazen after 18 holes. Alliss gradually built his lead to three holes, before Sarazen rallied and squared the match after 14 holes. At the par-3 15th, Alliss’ tee shot found the green. Sarazen hit an errant tee shot that bounced back off a spectator and on to the green. Sarazen didn’t miss a cue and holed his putt for a birdie and held on for a 1-up victory. The Americans went on to win the final three matches, highlighted by Sam Snead’s 5-and-4 victory over Richard Burton. The final tally – 8-4 in favor of the Americans.
The Ryder Cup was to be resumed in November 1939 at Ponte Vedra (Fla.) Country Club, but the dark clouds of war were breaking rapidly across Europe. The competition would not be renewed for another decade.