Ryder Cup facts

The Ryder Cup trophy has been around since 1927, yet not much is known about it.

Nine things to you know about the Ryder Cup trophy

The Ryder Cup is one of the most hotly contested events in sports, yet the star of the show is a relative unknown. Sure, we all know what the Ryder Cup trophy looks like, but how much do you actually know about it? 

With that in mind, we did research, checked with the PGA of Great Britain and Ireland, the PGA of America and came up with facts about the trophy. 

1. Checking in at...

Let's start with the basics. The Ryder Cup is made out of gold and stands 17 inches tall, 9 inches wide and weighs 4 pounds. That makes it slightly taller and heavier than the trophy awarded to the winners of the FIFA World Cup, and half the height and about 1/8th of the weight of the Stanley Cup. 

2. Once upon a time...

The trophy was commissioned by Samuel Ryder, the founder of the Ryder Cup. After becoming a very successful seller of seeds, Ryder wanted to get an official match with the best golfers in America squaring off against Great Britain's best. He donated the trophy in 1927, and the Ryder Cup was born. 

3. Upon further review...

There is some uncertainty surrounding the identity of the golfer at the top of the cup. It is widely believed that Ryder had depicted this to be Abe Mitchell, who has been reported to be the club professional at Verulam Golf Club and Ryder's personal instructor. However, that may not be entirely accurate. In Peter Fry's book "Verulam Golf Club, 1905-2005," he states that while the two were good friends, Mitchell did not teach Ryder. Ryder was nearly 70 and had already been playing golf for about 10 years before Mitchell got to Verulam. Regardless of their connection, the figurine on top of the trophy bares a close resemblence to Mitchell.

4. Cash or credit?

Ryder made a fortune by selling "penny packs" of seeds, so he was able to spend 250 pounds to make the trophy. In today's market, 250 pounds is equal to about $400. Factor in inflation, and the cost to make the Ryder Cup in 2014 would be about $5,600. 

5. Where the trophy

The Ryder Cup belongs to The Professional Golfers' Association in Great Britain; it was awarded in the original Trust Deeds by Samuel Ryder. The PGA of GB&I are responsible for its care. The original trophy remains in Great Britain, and it is unlikely that the original would travel with the winners, per se, such as some sports leagues where victors "hold" the cup until the next meeting. At least that's the way it's been.

6. Other Ryder Cup versions

The actual Ryder Cup rarely makes a public appearance because of its iconic nature - it just can't be put in jeopardy. However, the PGA of America has a full size, identical replica. There is a traveling Ryder Cup that is identical to the original trophy and used at promotional events.

7. Markings of a winner

The base (or plintth) of the Ryder Cup records winners. Engraved on trophy are the scores of the original matches starting in 1927. The updated matches are placed on a band on the plinth at the bottom of the trophy. All results are and will be recorded on this trophy in some way.

8. Mini-me

Members of the winning Ryder Cup squad receive replica trophies to commemorate their victory. The Europeans, for instance, from 1985 on receive a two-thirds sized cup to commemorate their appearance.

9. Many friends

Spanning all 39 previous tournaments, nearly 250 players have participated on the Ryder Cup winning teams, if you count both teams in years that it ended in a draw. The U.S. has won it 25 times, and no player has won it more than American Billy Casper, who captured the cup a total of nine times (eight as a player, one as a captain).