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A Dummies Guide to The Ryder Cup 2016

The Ryder Cup is one of golf’s most interesting competitions, but how many of us understand what is going on? We have created a full breakdown of the tournament, to ensure you have enough knowledge to make it through all three days of the tournament.

The History

The story of the Ryder Cup dates back to 1921 when an unofficial match between Great Britain and the United States took place at Gleneagles golf course in Scotland. Five years later in 1926 another match took place and attending that match was an entrepreneur called Samuel Ryder. Ryder was so enthralled by what he saw, he wanted to make the competition an official event and even donated the famous gold trophy which at the time cost him £250.

The first official Ryder Cup was contested in 1927 and in 1953 the Great Britain team was expanded to include Irish golfers. In 1979 the British and Irish team was expanded even further to include players across Europe and with it the Ryder Cup became one of world’s biggest golf competitions, attracting millions of viewers around the globe.

The Course

The Ryder cup takes place on a selected course alternating between the United States and Europe. This year it’s the American’s turn to host the tournament and Hazeltine National Golf Club course has been selected. This picturesque course spans hills and woods, and hosted the PGA Championship back in 2009.

Hazeltine Golf Course (Par 72) (7,628 yd)


The Teams

Each team is made up of 12 golfers and a non-playing captain who does not take part in matches. The last captain to combine the roles of captain and player was the late Arnold Palmer in 1963.

Automatic qualification varies between countries with Europe using a points system and the United States opting to rank players based on earnings.

Each team also contains wildcard selections chosen by the team captains. The captain also decides who plays in each group of matches, as well as helping to decide the playing order.

The USA Team 


Davis Love III (Captain)

Rickie Fowler (Captain Pick), J.B. Holmes (Captain Pick), Ryan Moore (Captain Pick), Matt Kuchar (Captain Pick)

Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker, Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka

The European Team

Darren Clarke (Captain)


Lee Westwood (Captain Pick) - Thomas Pieters (Captain Pick) - Martin Kaymer (Captain Pick)

Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Andy Sullivan, Danny Willett, Chris Wood

The Ryder Cup Layout

Over the three days, a total of 28 matchups are played including 8 foursome matches, 8 fourball matches and 12 singles matches.

Day 1 (Friday) – 4 foursome (alternate shot) matches and 4 fourball (better ball) matches

Day 2 (Saturday) – 4 foursome matches and 4 fourball matches

Day 3 (Sunday) – 12 singles matches


Foursomes is an alternate shot format. This means that each two man team of two take alternate shots throughout the match, using the same ball.


Fourball is also played out in teams of two, but each golfer plays their own ball. This format is also known as better ball as the teams number of strokes is dependent on the lower scoring player.

Singles Matches

There are 12 singles matches that take place and these are a straight head to head between the two players.

All three of these match types follow the same scoring format we have highlighted below.


What makes the Ryder Cup so interesting is it utilises the matchplay scoring system. This means a point is awarded for bettering your opponent on each individual hole. This varies from the traditional stroke play method, where players try to achieve the lowest under par score over one or more rounds of 18 holes.

This layout also means it’s possible for there to be a winner before all the holes have been played. For example, if a player or pair are winning by 2 holes on the 17th, then there is no way the other player can catch up, so the match is ended and the score is recorded as 2-Up with one to play.

If you win more holes than your opponent, you gain an overall point for your team. If both players or teams are tied at the end of a round, then each player gets half a point. The first team to achieve 14 and a half points out of the 28 match ups is the overall winner.

So those are the basics! If all this talk of golf has got you wanting to work on that swing, you can shop our full golf range here.

The Ryder Cup tees off on the 30/09/2016