How the Trophy Made Its Return Home
For the first time since 2008, and for only the third time in the last 11 Ryder Cup competitions, the Ryder Cup Trophy has returned home to the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The 54-hole, flagship facility of the PGA of America has showcased the iconic trophy in the entrance of its clubhouse since early March, and it has been the most popular addition to the clubhouse’s display of PGA of America history and memorabilia.
Thanks to the 17-11 win over Europe last September at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota, the U.S. team finally reclaimed the Ryder Cup Trophy after three straight defeats, including the devastating 14.5-13.5 2012 defeat at Medinah CC in Illinois. Only the 1999 Justin Leonard-fueled victory at The Country Club in Brookline and the 2008 16.5-11.5 rout at Valhalla CC in Louisville had been the bright spots in the last 22 years since the 14.5-13.5 loss in 1995 at Oak Hill CC in Rochester, NY.
The trophy made its way down the road to 1916 Perfect Drive and the PGA Golf Club clubhouse on March 9 after having made the rounds among a number of the U.S. team’s members. Each player gets to show off the trophy for a couple of weeks, but rumor has it that Captain Davis Love, III didn’t want to let go of it and that Rickie Fowler took it to his New Year’s Eve bash.
A Superb Photo Op
Standing 17.5-inches high and weighing four pounds, the trophy was donated by British seed merchant Samuel Ryder in 1927. The 9-carat gold trophy sits atop a wooden base, around which is a gold band where the scores of each Ryder Cup have been engraved. Jimmy Terry, GM of PGA GC, and Adriana Vizcaya, Director of Marketing, placed the Ryder Cup Trophy on its stand and put the protective cover over it. PGA Golf Club members had the opportunity the night before to have their pictures taken with the trophy.
A large banner with a picture of the U.S. team, all smiling around the Cup, has been raised above the trophy itself. That picture, a golf bag from the 2016 event, and a life-size cutout of Captain Love adorn the display just inside the main entrance to the clubhouse. Almost every visitor takes the time to inspect the trophy and to take a picture of the entire scene.
Now one of the greatest sporting events in the world, the Ryder Cup is a biennial competition pitting the best American professional golfers against those from Europe. What makes the competition unique among professional sporting events is that the Ryder Cup has always been founded solely on national prestige rather than on prize money. The trophy will soon be leaving PGA Golf Club for some more travel, including a summer tour of Europe that includes Berlin and Paris. Then those team members who have not had their time with the trophy will get their hands on it. A late fall return to PGA Golf Club is tentatively scheduled.
Ryder Cup Then and Now
The U.S. team leads the all-time series 26-13-2 after the international competition began in 1927 with a U.S. 9.5-2.5 win at Worcester CC in Massachusetts. However, since the Brits and Irish were joined by the rest of Europe in 1979, the modern era of the classic event, the U.S. has won only eight of the 19 matches.
From September 28-30, 2018, the 42nd Ryder Cup matches will be held at the Albatros Course of Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, a suburb southwest of Paris. A nine-time Ryder Cup participant from 1997 to 2014, Jim Furyk will be the U.S. captain. It is only the second Ryder Cup to be held on the continent after the Euros 14.5-13.5 victory at Valderrama GC in Andalusia, Spain. The U.S. team, however, has not won in Europe at any destination since 1993 in the 15-13 decision at The Belfry in Warwickshire, England.
The Wanamaker, The Ryder, and The Dye Golf Courses
The PGA Golf Club is located on Florida’s Treasure Coast and is a year-round golfer’s playground. Proclaimed as one of the “75 Best Golf Resorts in North America” by Golf Digest, PGA Golf Club is world-class. Its reputation comes from its three championship courses—two by Tom Fazio and one by Pete Dye—and is bolstered by both its 35-acre, award-winning practice facilities and its wealth of museum-like memorabilia and photographs in the clubhouse. The touch screen GPS system on the carts adds greatly to the courses’ playability.
Fazio designed both The Wanamaker and The Ryder courses in 1999. The former honors Rodman Wanamaker, who helped establish the PGA of America, funded the first PGA Championship in 1916, and had his name attached to the champion’s trophy. The latter, of course, honors Samuel Ryder. All 36 tees have plaques that unveil the storied lore of both the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup.
Pete Dye built his eponymous course in 1998, and by highlighting the native environment, especially the wetlands, he has fashioned a links-style course reminiscent of the British Isles, similar to playing in Scotland or Ireland without the airfare.
(Photographs courtesy of PGA of America)