It’s the pioneer we can all thank for masterminding the Ryder Cup.
It’s the man who wanted to support professional golfers and commission a trophy and a tournament between the best players from Great Britain and America.
Fast forward 96 years and we are now presented with one of the most pulsating events in all of sport, let alone just golf.
Samuel Ryder could only have imagined what his brainchild would become. We now have 24 stars of the game fully invested in bringing the Ryder Cup home for their nations and continents.
We delve into who Samuel Ryder was and how he created the Ryder Cup from his origins at Verulam Golf Club in St Albans.
Who was Samuel Ryder?
Sam Ryder was born in 1858 and moved to St Albans from Manchester in 1895. He wanted to grow his business as a seed merchant by selling packets of seeds via delivery across the country.
The Ryder family moved to utilise the city’s three train stations to maximise his business. He was involved in a number of other professions which included a stint as mayor of St. Albans.
After becoming hooked on golf through the encouragement of a friend, Ryder joined Verulam Golf Club in 1909. He thrived and served as the captain three times.
Ryder and his brother James began to sponsor golf competitions to help aspiring players compete and subsidised their loss of earnings when they were away from work.
The pair also started a company called Heath and Heather which sold herbal remedies. It traded until 1971 before it was sold and rebranded as Holland & Barrett.
He learned of the financial hardships of professional golfers. In 1923, he hosted an event at Verulam and paid professionals to play. Ryder also financially supported Abe Mitchell who was one of the country’s best players.
It was Ryder’s idea to begin a challenge match between professionals from Great Britain and the USA and the first official Ryder Cup match took off in 1927 at Worcester Country Club, Massachusetts.
Ryder commissioned the Ryder Cup trophy for £250. Mitchell is now the golfer that stands proud at the top of the Ryder Cup trophy.
Ryder attended the first two home matches at Moortown and Southport and Ainsdale. He was particularly happy to give captain George Duncan the trophy in 1929 in Yorkshire – a former winner of The Open Championship.
Having actively supported the matches between 1931 to 1935, Ryder died on January 2, 1936, in London. He is buried in Hatfield Road cemetery in St Albans.
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Ahead of the Ryder Cup, St Albans Museums and St Albans Tour Guides are celebrating Samuel Ryder with an exhibition in the Assembly Room at St Albans Museum + Gallery. You can check exact times and dates, here.
Golf fans and history buffs can also enjoy a stay in a Grade II listed building, previously the head office of Ryder’s seed company, the very place the businessman would have also made the idea of the Ryder Cup come to life. Now a boutique hotel, The Samuel Ryder Hotel St Albans, Tapestry Collection by Hilton offers 60 stylish rooms in the heart of the city.
(Image credit: PR4 Media)
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