When was the first Ryder Cup played?
The Ryder Cup has become one of the world’s greatest sporting events, captivating fans not just in Europe and America, but across the globe. So, when was The Ryder Cup first played?
The first Ryder Cup took place on June 3-4, 1927 at Worcester Country Club, Worcester, Massachusetts. The inaugural contest was played in teams of eight, competing in four foursomes and eight singles matches, with the United States beating Great Britain 9.5 – 2.5 to become the first winners of the iconic gold trophy.
The ‘man behind the cup’, English seed merchant Samuel A. Ryder, had presented the trophy to The Professional Golfers’ Association (of Great Britain & Ireland) to place as a prize for an international competition between American and British professional golfers, and now world-famous Ryder Cup trophy was lifted for the first time at Worcester Country Club.
Ted Ray captained the first Great Britain team, which included 1920 Open Champion George Duncan, while Walter Hagen led a United States side that featured Gene Sarazen – at that time a three time Major winner who would go on to add four more to his collection – who was the youngest member of the team at 25 years old.
Great Britain: Aubrey Boomer, Archie Compston, Duncan, George Gadd, Arthur Havers, Herbert Jolly, Ray, Fred Robson and Charles Whitcombe. (Gadd did not play in any matches)
United States: Leo Diegel, Al Espinosa, Johnny Farrell, Johnny Golden, Hagen, Bill Mehlhorn, Sarazen, Joe Turnesa and Al Watrous. (Espinosa did not play in any matches)
At the conclusion of the Friday foursomes, Team Unites States led 3-1 after winning the opening three matches. Hagen and Golden beat Ray and Robson 2&1, Farrell and Turnesa defeated Duncan and Compston 8&6, while Sarazen and Watrous won 3&2 over Havers and Jolly 3&2, before Boomer and Whitcombe beat Diegel and Mehlhorn 7&5 to claim Great Britain’s first point.
The United States sealed the first ever Ryder Cup victory midway through the Saturday singles, winning the first four matches to reach the unbeatable target of seven points.
Mehlhorn defeated Compston 1up, Farrell comfortably beat Boomer 5&4, while Golden and Diegel comprehensively won their matches against Jolly and Ray, winning 8&7 and 7&5 respectively.
With the historic result already beyond doubt Whitcombe secured a half point for Great Britain against Sarazen, before Hagen beat Havers 2&1 and Watrous triumphed 3&2 against Robson.
Duncan was the only member of Team Great Britain to gain a full singles point, clinching victory over Turnesa 1up.
Great Britain Captain, Ray, summed up the inaugural matches, saying: “One of the chief reasons for our failure was the superior putting of the American team. They holed out much better than we did.”
The idea to stage international matches, at that time between the best American professionals and those of Great Britain, is a subject of debate amongst historians.
PGA President George Sargent (1921-26), credited Sylvanus P. Jermain, president of Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, for ﬁrst presenting the concept of an international match, in 1921.
The ﬁrst unofﬁcial matches took place at Gleneagles, Scotland, on June 6 that year, with the British side recording a 10.5 - 4.5 victory.
Another unofﬁcial match took place in 1926 when the R&A initiated qualifying for the Open Championship, giving American players more time in England.
Samuel Ryder and Walter Hagen deserve the credit for that match on June 4-5 at Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey.
Great Britain cruised to a 13.5 – 1.5 triumph and it was the genesis of what ofﬁcially became The Ryder Cup in 1927.