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  • Writer's pictureGerrit van Rooyen

Two Cups of Golf

Last time I mentioned a few great players in the world of golf with a few words on how they are unique. It was quite interesting learning about them and how different they are in terms of playing style as well as their character. These players had many titles and achievements in the sport to date, so I wanted to find out more about these competitions they participate in and what makes each one unique. What I found out is that there are quite a few different tournaments! I decided to look at two, one which has been around for a long time and one that is fairly new. They do both have something interesting in common though.

The Ryder Cup

This tournament is held every two years and started in 1927 in the Worcester Country club in Massachusetts. It was named after Samuel Ryder, the man who donated the trophy for the competition. Samuel Ryder was an English businessman who developed a passion for golf at age 50 and started sponsoring the sport. Ryder actually started his business career selling packets of seeds through the post and ended up making a lot of money, expanding so large he ended with a company employing over 100 workers, even creating a sister company selling herbs.

The Ryder Cup is a specific event that is contested between American and European teams each time. Initially, the competition was only between Britain and America, but due to America dominating for an extended period of time, Ireland and later Europe was allowed to enter under the opposing team.

Valderrama, the first club outside of the UK and US to host the Ryder Cup

Since it's inception, the competition has been held from a Friday to Sunday, but the format has changed somewhat. At first, the games were 36 hole games, but since 1961 this changed to 18 hole games, but the matches were doubled to compensate. Other changes have happened over the years as well, such as the teams changing from 10 to 12 players, and the types of games, namely now including foursome games as well as fourballs games, where originally only foursomes games were played.

To qualify for the Ryder Cup competition you would have to be selected by a sitting committee, but this has changed over the years and changes are still being made. You can get in by performance qualifications, or the captain can elect you for the team. I feel this would only really work well if a small number is chosen like this and the rest is based on performance.

The Ryder Cup is quite a prestigious event and from 2012 there have been celebrity matches played just before the main event to really attract crowds and pay homage to the cup's grand history.

The Ryder Cup Trophy

Some great moments in the Ryder Cup over the years:

1969 : Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin tied in what has been one of the greatest games of golf ever played. I have always seen golf as a gentleman's game and what happened during this match showed this, with Nicklaus conceding a putt in a sportsmanlike gesture to his opponent.

1989 : Unfortunately, some seemingly unsportsmanly things tend to happen as well, when a rivalry between two golfers, Azinger and Ballesteros, evolved after a dispute about an unfit ball and a proper drop at a water hazard. The game ended in a tie, meaning Europe retained the cup.

1991 : There was still tension between the teams left over from the 1989 game and it showed on the course this year. It made for great viewing, however, and more people started taking notice of the human drama involved in the sport. An intense finale saw the Americans take back the cup this year.

2012 : A close win by the European team saw them take the cup with a 14.5 point two day game to the American team's 13.5. What was amazing was that the European team was quite far behind on day one, but made a miraculous recovery day two.

Another competition which has gained a lot of momentum since it's start in 1994 is the President's Cup.

The President's Cup

At the start, I mentioned that these two competitions had something interesting in common. You see for me I always saw golfing competitions as an event where the best player receives a large amount of money for winning and that that was the motivation for the event. What makes these two competitions different is that there is no prize money for the winners, even though the golfers are at the top of their game and the events bring in a lot of money. I suppose the prestige is what these players are after?

The President's Cup is also held between two teams, an American team and an International team. However, the international team cannot include Europe, as they are already represented in the Ryder Cup. I am not too sure why this is, but the only thing I can think is that there are more players in the States and it allows for more competition with the rest of the world. Traditionally this competition is held on alternating years to the Ryder Cup.

The President's Cup is a little different to the Ryder Cup in that it is held over 4 days and not all games are foursomes and fourball games. The last day has a 12 singles format and I feel this has been done to draw more crowds and make the spectating a bit more interesting due to the variety.

The President's Cup Trophy

America has been dominating this competition since it's start in 1994, only losing 1 year and tieing 1 time, winning a total of 11 times so far.

One thing I really love about this event is that the money raised during this event, much like the Ryder Cup, is not handed to the players, but given to charities that are nominated by the players. It is a great way for this hugely popular sport to give back to the public that loves it so much!

Some records made during the President's Cup:

- Phil Mickelson (USA) scored both the most points and most appearances in a team.

- Tiger Woods (USA) scored most single points won and most points in a single contest (2009)

- The youngest player was an international player, Ryo Ishikawa, who was only 18 in 2009, with the oldest player being Jay Haas (USA) who was 49 at the time in 2003.

It was nice reading up a bit about these two competitions and I will continue to do so, maybe doing a bit more of a detailed account on how it has evolved over the years to give myself a keener understanding of the game. It has definitely shown me that it is not just all about the money for the players, but that there is a very real competitive edge to the game as well as a charitable side. Even at the very top!

I hope you all have a great weekend.

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