Ryder Cup Scoring Method

By Bobby Ingram

The Ryder Cup is a team-based golf competition held in even-numbered years. Twelve-golfer teams representing the United States of America and Europe square off in pair-vs.-pair team matches as well as matches pitting a single golfer from each team against each other, all hoping to acquire valuable points for their team.

The Facts

There are 28 matches played between European and American players over the course of the Ryder Cup weekend, with each match being worth one point. The winning side is the team that accumulates the most team points, with a draw seeing the reigning champ retain the trophy. This means that the defending champs need 14 points to win, while the challengers require 14 1/2.


The Ryder Cup team scoring system seeks to make an easily quantifiable measurement of which team has played better over the course of the Ryder Cup weekend. On a grander scale, the Ryder Cup itself is a means of seeing where the premier golfers in the world call home, and also offers the opportunity for some players to face members of the other golf tour, who they may normally only face in major tournaments.

The Match Types

There are three different types of matches played over the course of the weekend. There are two days that see four rounds of foursomes and four rounds of four ball each. In foursomes, two players from each team play together, alternating shots on the same ball. In four ball, each player plays their own ball, with a player needing to beat both players on the opposing team to win the hole. The final day sees the final twelve matches, with each team sending all players out in one-on-one match play.


All matches use match play scoring, meaning the winner is whichever side wins more holes, regardless of how much each hole is won by. If over the course of one match the European side won two holes by one stroke each, the American side won one hole by three strokes, and they tied the remaining holes, the European side would win despite using more strokes.


The Ryder Cup scoring system has led to some dramatic finishes. The most iconic of these was the United States' rally in the 1999 Ryder Cup. The Europeans entered the final day with a 10-6 lead, and seemed sure to win. The Americans staged a massive comeback, winning 8 ½ points in the heads-up matches, culminating in Justin Leonard sinking a long putt to seal the comeback--setting off a raucous, controversial celebration on the green.

About The Author

Bobby Ingram is a professional writer who majored in journalism at The College of New Jersey. In addition to work with eHow.com and GolfLink.com, Bobby has done PR with Major League Lacrosse's New Jersey Pride organization, where he served as the team's beat reporter.


Alfred R. joined GolfLink
Richard A. joined GolfLink
Jean-Michel H. joined GolfLink
Pat L. joined GolfLink
David F. joined GolfLink

View Activity Feed

Video of the Day
Hip Tightness: Extended Position Watch Video>>

Related Articles

Article Image FedEx Cup Playoffs: Changes to 2019

The FedExCup Playoffs have undergone an overhaul for the 2019 PG...

Article Image PGA Tour: When Can Professional Golfers Use Golf Carts? 

John Daly. Getty Images Golf carts are standard on most courses an...

Article Image List of Winners of the Masters Golf Tournament

The Masters golf tournament was the co-creation of golfing legend...

Article Image 2019 Rule Changes Every Golfer Needs to Know

The Royal & Ancient Club of St. Andrews and the U.S. Golf Assoc...

Article Image FedEx Cup Playoffs Changes for 2019

photo credit: Keyur Kamar/PGA Tour The PGA Tour has announced that...

View All Related Articles