Ryder Cup Format & Rules

By Michael Joseph

The Ryder Cup is a bi-annual match-play competition between the United States and Europe. The competition is named after golf enthusiast and businessman Samuel Ryder, who donated a solid gold trophy for the winning team. The first official Ryder Cup was in 1927. It was strictly U.S. versus Great Britain until 1979, when a rules change allowed all continental European professionals a chance to qualify.
Each team has a captain, who decides which players will team together during fourball and foursomes matches and compete in singles matches.
The Ryder Cup stands at 24 wins for the United States, 10 wins for Great Britain/Europe and two ties. The event was not played from 1939 to 1945 due to World War II and in 2001 due to the World Trade Center attacks.


Teammates alternate tee shots. Player 'A' tees off on odd-numbered holes, and Player 'B' tees off on even-numbered holes. After the tee shot, teammates alternate shots until completion of the hole.


All four players play their own ball. The team whose player has the lowest score wins the hole. If the teams tie, they halve the hole. The team that wins the match receives one point, and if the teams tie they each get 1/2 point.


Players compete in match play head-to-head. The best score per hole wins that hole and tied holes are halved. The player who wins the match earns one point for his team. Ties are worth 1/2 point to each team.


There are 28 total matches and available points. The team with the most cumulative points at the end of the tournament wins. If the teams tie (14 vs.14) the team that last won the tournament retains the Ryder Cup trophy.


The Ryder Cup is played every other year, alternating locations between the United States and Europe. The 2010 Ryder Cup is to be played at The Celtic Manor in Newport, Wales.

About The Author

Michael Joseph is a golf industry professional in New Jersey. He has worked as a golf professional, instructor, and clubmaker. Joseph's education includes a degree in golf operations management and a certification in club-fitting from The Golf Academy of America (formally the San Diego Golf Academy). Joseph shares his golf experience and knowledge with others by writing articles for Demand Media Studios and Golflink.com.

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