It's Ryder Cup week and you may have seen the story on the family that named their child Ryder. As it turns out, they weren't alone. Multiple people commented on that story from our Facebook page to let us know that they too had ditched baby name books and taken inspiration from the biennial battle.
"My son Ryder is 8 years old and named after my love for the Ryder cup also born in September." — Louise McGrath Emerick
"My wife and I did the exact same thing... our son Ryder is now 9 months old." — Chris Chadwell
We decided to dig in and found the name Ryder has been rapidly increasing in popularity nationwide, based on U.S. Social Security baby names data.
According to that data, at least 41,000 boys have been named Ryder since 1994. Data is only available on names that crack each year’s top 1,000 in the United States, so while there are likely plenty of female Ryders out there, we don't have solid evidence and it's certainly not as popular.
The name first appeared in the top 1,000 in 1994, and other than falling out briefly in 1996, it has remained there through the most recent year tracked. That first year, it was the 951st most popular name, with 135 boys receiving it. But that popularity has only grown. In 2014, Ryder reached its peak as the 95th most popular boys name, when 4,100 young lads were named Ryder.
When you look at the timeline, the popularity of the name does coorelate with the popularity of the event, and you might even be able to track surges based on highly watched, highly contested domestic Ryder Cups (which are held every two years). International Ryder Cups have lower U.S. audiences by rule because of the time difference.
In 1993, the U.S. won its second Ryder Cup in a row after a European three-peat. It was the first time the U.S. team had won in Europe since 1981. In 1994, Ryder broke the top 1,000 names for the first time ever. It was also just three years from removed from the Infamous "War on the Shore", a hotly contested domestic Ryder Cup at Kiawah that sparked intense national interest.
In 1999, we saw the Battle of Brookline, where the U.S. team came back from a 10-6 deficit to win 14½ to 13½. According to the New York Times, it was one of the most-watched Ryder Cups ever in the United States.
In 2000, the name Ryder saw a 150 percent jump in popularity (as opposed to just a 1.25 percent jump from 1998 to 1999). In 2002, the name had its biggest surge, with a 189 percent increase in baby Ryders.
In 2012, Europe returned the favor. Down 10-6 heading into the final day, the Europeans came back to win 14½ to 13½ after Tiger Woods missed a putt on the final green. Perhaps dismayed by the U.S. collapse, American parents steered clear of the name Ryder, and its popularity dropped 0.33 percent in 2013, the first time it had decreased since 2001.
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While the name has become more popular than ever, only 3,238 male Ryders were born in 2017, ranking as the 122nd most-popular male name in the U.S.. For reference, the most popular name for a male baby in the U.S. last year, Liam, saw 18,728 births.
So pay extra attention to this year's tournament at Le Golf National. Thousands of children's futures could hang in the balance.