Meet Samuel Ryder, the man behind the Ryder Cup
Samuel Ryder and the event which bears his name, the Ryder Cup, are inextricably linked in golf history. And while he is responsible for creating one of the most exhilarating and fiercely competitive sporting events in the world, not often is Ryder spoken of. Here’s a closer look at the man behind the Ryder Cup.
Who was Samuel Ryder?
Samuel Ryder was an Englishman who was born March 24, 1858. He grew up around Manchester in England and was a successful seed merchant. In 1895, he relocated his family to St. Albans to take advantage the city’s three train stations to maximize his by-mail catalogue business to deliver seeds directly to customers. Ryder dabbled in a variety of other professions throughout his life including a stint as mayor of St. Albans and Justice of the Peace.
How did he get involved in golf?
In an effort to get Ryder to slow his frenetic work pace, a friend introduced him to golf and he immediately became infatuated with the game. Soon after, he hired and instructor and joined Verulam Golf Club where he was captain three times.
It was during his time playing golf that he began to learn of the financial hardships that professionals faced in wanting to pursue a full-time career in the game. In 1923, he hosted an event at Verulam and paid professionals to attend in order for them to earn money. In 1925, he invited Abe Mitchell, one of the top professionals in England to move to St. Albans. Ryder supported Mitchell financially with a monthly stipend and covered his expenses.
How did the Ryder Cup come about?
Matches throughout the 1920s pitted the best American golfers against the best of the United Kingdom. In 1927, Ryder commissioned the creation of the Ryder Cup trophy. June 3 – 4, 1927 the first Ryder Cup match was played at Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts. The trophy was commissioned for 250 pounds. It is approximately 17 inches tall and weighs four pounds. Mitchell was a participant in the early matches and is forever memorialized as the figure atop the Ryder Cup trophy.
Ryder played an active role in the matches between 1931 – 1935 as both an organizer and financial backer. Ryder died January 2, 1936 in London.