On this day in 1927 the 1st Ryder Cup was played. The US beat England, 9Â½-2Â½ at Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts.
There is some debate over who suggested the idea for the Ryder Cup. James Harnett, a journalist with Golf Illustrated magazine, appears to have proposed a similar idea to the PGA of America on 15 December 1920 and, having failed to attract support, the idea was refloated by Sylvanus P. “SP” Jermain, president of the Inverness Club, the next year. Historical records indicate that the first unofficial Ryder Cup-style matches were played in 1921 at Gleneagles Golf Course, Perthshire. The American team was chosen by James Harnett. Great Britain made Ryder Cup history by beating the American golf team 9-3, the second match in 1926 was won 13Â½-1Â½ by Britain. Present at the 1926 match, held on the East Course at Wentworth Club, Virginia Water, Surrey, was Samuel Ryder, a seed merchant who traded from St Albans, Hertfordshire. Having watched the play, Ryder thought it would be a good idea to make the match official and thus the Ryder Cup was founded, with Ryder donating the trophy.
Few people who took up golf after their 50th birthday have left as many positive impressions on the game during the history of golf. To get started, Ryder recruited the services of a golf professional called Hill from a local golf course to introduce him to the fundamentals of golf. Afterwards, Ryder hired Abe Mitchell as his private tutor for a fee of Â£1,000 per year. Ryder received most of his lessons at his home, Marlborough House, and he was relentless. He practised his driving, pitching and putting six days each week.
At the age of 51, he had achieved a handicap of six and was accepted as a member of the Verulam Golf Club in St Albans in 1910. A year later, he captained the golf club. He was also club captain in 1926 and 1927. In 1923, he sponsored the Heath and Heather Tournament, which was only open to professionals. One of the golf professionals who took part was ex-gardener Abe Mitchell, considered one of the best British golfers of his era.
Among the British at the 1926 landmark match were golfing giants Abe Mitchell, George Duncan, Archie Compston, Ted Ray (portrayed by Stephen Marcus in the 2005 film The Greatest Game Ever Played), and Arthur Havers. From America came Walter Hagen, Tommy Armour, Jim Barnes and Al Watrous.
Ryder, who donated a gold cup and had agreed to pay Â£5 to each member of the winning team, attached his name to the new competition.