What happens when you take 24 golfers, who are used to the pressures and the pitfalls of such an individualistic sport, and then unleash them in a team-based environment representing their country (in the case of Team America) or their home continent (Europe)?
You get supreme entertainment, controversy and chest-thumping patriotism. You get the Ryder Cup.
The biennial event serves up guaranteed rip-roaring action, with the 2023 edition this September and October set to be no different.
Home and Away
The best 12 players from the United States and the finest dozen from Europe, who earn their place via their season’s performances or a wildcard pick, do battle over three days of almost non-stop golf.
The Ryder Cup is hosted on rotation by each team, with representatives from America and Europe choosing which course they want to host the tournament. In 2023, the action heads to the Marco Simone club near Rome in Italy.
The home team generally has an advantage, although the odds for those betting on golf this year make America an 8/15 favourite despite the Ryder Cup taking place in Europe. The hosts are the 2/1 underdogs.
— Marco Simone Golf & Country Club (@marcosimonegolf) July 13, 2023
What is interesting about that is the poor record of away teams in the Ryder Cup. Since 1979, Europe have only won four times in America while the United States have recorded just two victories on European soil in the same timeframe.
Can the Americans upend the history books in 2023?
When was the Ryder Cup Founded?
In the 1920s, golf was enjoying a boom in popularity in the UK and America, while long-distance travel was becoming more readily available via ocean liner. It was a marriage of convenience that would spawn a fledgling Ryder Cup competition.
The Open Championship was golf’s only major at the time, so the Professional Golfers’ Association of America arranged for ten of their finest players to travel to Great Britain to play in the prestigious tournament in 1921.
To warm up for the Open, an exhibition event between two teams from the UK and the United States was arranged, with Team GB taking the spoils by a score of 9-3. The Ryder Cup was born, with the first official edition taking place in 1927.
It became a biennial event, aside from a break for World War II, with the event expanded in 1973 so that players from Ireland could represent Great Britain and then, from 1979, another change saw anyone from continental Europe eligible to represent their team.
That led to the Ryder Cup becoming more even and competitive, laying the foundation for some of the incredible battles that have followed in the five decades since.
History at Whistling Straits.
The most points earned in a single Ryder Cup since 1979. pic.twitter.com/p3cawiZUAh
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 26, 2021
What is the Format of the Ryder Cup?
Each team has a nominated captain, who decides not only which players they want to pick as wildcards (to go with those who automatically qualify) but also what their pairings will be.
These pairs play the four-ball where each individual plays their own ball and the best score wins, and the foursome format in which each pair only has one ball and takes alternate shots.
Each ‘rubber’ can end in a win for either team or a tie based upon their scores, with the number of wins accumulated to give an overall leaderboard.
On the third and final day of the Ryder Cup, all 24 players are involved in singles action, again with a point available for a win or half-a-point for the tie. The team with the most points at the end of the three days is declared the winner.
You can rest assured that the 2023 Ryder Cup will be a fine addition to the history and heritage of golf’s best team event.