The driving force behind the Ryder Cup and donator of the event’s trophy, Samuel Ryder, has been posthumously given the 2017 Confederation of Professional Golf Special Recognition Award at the Association’s Annual Congress Gala Awards supported by Rolex.
After having only taken up golf at the age of 49, Ryder [pictured above, centre], etched his name in the history books after donating the gold trophy to the PGA of Great Britain & Ireland when the first official match took place in 1927; the same trophy that is still used today.
Ryder’s foresight in helping to create the matches has resulted in an enduring legacy that has impacted on golf around the world and specifically on the Confederation of Professional Golf as a partner in Ryder Cup Europe through the vehicle of the Ryder Cup European Development Trust, which has enabled significant investment back into developing the game across the continent.
“I think our Great-Grandfather would be massively impressed with what’s gone on with the tournament,” said Tom [pictured below, centre right]. “I think he would recognise it instantly, being such a strong advocate of the honour and respect that golf draws upon.”
“I think the ethos behind the event would be beyond his wildest dreams…our ancestry is not something we take lightly, we understand how big a thing that is, it’s a real honour,” added Samuel [pictured below, centre left].
Ryder was born in Preston, UK, and after originally training as a teacher at what is now Manchester University, he went on to work in his father’s gardening supplies business where he gained his first experience with nurseries, floristry and in the seed trade.
However, after friction in his family, Ryder moved down south to St Albans, just outside of London, where he joined a rival seed merchant. He also understood that distribution costs would be cheaper in the south, meaning he could reach middle- and lower-class gardeners.
His own ‘penny packet’ seed business became hugely successful and made him a wealthy man, but also a very respected man due to his philanthropic, generous and community-focused efforts.
His role in community of St Albans involved a religious commitment that included being a Deacon at his local church, a councillor for St Albans from 1903 to 1916, Justice of the Peace, a charity fund-raiser, and a spell as town Mayor in 1905.
His origins in the seed business also led to the creation of ‘Heath & Heather’ with his brother, James; an organisation aiming to promote herbs as medicine and the use of natural and organic practices that still exists today.
But it was later in life when Ryder became involved with golf – together with his brother, he began sponsoring golf tournaments and matches with many taking place at his home club, Verulam, and in 1925 he employed PGA Professional, Abe Mitchell, as his coach.
Mitchell’s fellow professionals and friends such as Walter Hagen, combined with Ryder’s appreciation of the golf profession, ultimately led to his involvement with the first formalised Ryder Cup match between the USA and Great Britain & Ireland in 1927.
Ryder was able to create a deed of trust with the British PGA on 25th July that set in motion the first matches that took place at Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts. Unfortunately his health prevented him travelling to the matches that were won by the Americans, but when the 1929 match moved to Great Britain, he was present to see them claim the trophy back.
Perhaps Ryder’s most recognisable involvement with the event was the 17-inch high trophy commissioned for £250 and created by the famous Sheffield silversmith firm of Mappin & Webb. In tribute and as a show of great respect, the golfer atop the trophy was created in the image of Abe Mitchell, highlighting Ryder’s respect and affinity to the PGA and PGA Professionals.
Today, the Ryder Cup is deemed to be one of the world’s largest sporting events having expanded the team selection in the late 70s to bring Europe together like no other major sporting event. 24 of the world’s best male golfers now battle it out every two years in matches that have been hosted across the USA and in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Spain, and is set to venture to new countries in the future with France hosting the 2018 matches and Italy hosting the 2022 matches.
The legacy of these matches is shown in the huge investment back into golf that the event brings both through the charitable and social responsibility activities that take place around the hosting of the matches, together with the ongoing work of the Ryder Cup European Development Trust that seeks to support golf at grass roots level throughout Europe to get more people starting to playing and succeeding in golf.
For more information on the 2017 Annual Award Winners visit Annual Congress Hub Page (http://eur.pe/2017AnnualCongress), follow @PGAsofEurope on Twitter and search the hashtag ‘#AnnualCongress’ or like the Confederation of Professional Golf Facebook Page.
The Annual Congress Gala Awards are partnered by Rolex, Costa Navarino, the Ryder Cup European Development Trust, BMW and Aegean Airlines, and are supported by The Botanist, The Blue Beetle, Bulldog, G’Vine gins, Marendry apperitivo, and Fever-Tree Premium Natural Mixers.