Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Countdown to Ryder Cup 2014

Who was Mr. Ryder?

A sample of Ryder's
Penny Packet seeds
Early Life
Born in 1858 in Lancashire, England, Samuel Ryder was the fourth of eight children. His father, Samuel Ryder, Sr., was a gardener whose business expanded to include a nursery, florist, and seed merchant. Samuel Jr. worked for his father for a while, but frictions between them eventually drove Samuel Jr. to move to southern England and join a rival seed merchant. 

Samuel Ryder soon came up with a brilliant idea -- to sell small amounts of seeds in packets priced at a penny each. Overnight, the "penny seed packets" business was born and grew instantly. 

Golf Ryder frequently suffered from poor health. Before he started his penny seed packet business, he studied to become a teacher at Owens College. He wasn't able to graduate due to his poor health. When he was 50 years old, his friend Frank Wheeler suggested that he took up the game of golf as a way to get more fresh air. Ryder fell in love with the game and quickly reached a single digit handicap. He joined Verulam Golf Club, where he served on the greens committee for 20 years. During a family vacation at Dorset, he ran into the Whitcombe brothers (Ernest, Charles, and Reg) who were English professional golfers in the 1920's and 30's. Ryder was very impressed by their game and wondered if they would be playing in The Open that year. The Whitcombe brothers explained that they couldn't afford to play in an event like that. They explained, "The Americans come over here smartly dressed and backed by wealthy supporters; the Britisher has a poor chance compared to that." 
The replica of the Ryder Cup trophy, located in the
Brandenburg Historical Golf Museum at
Cinnabar Hills Golf Club

After his encounter with the Whitcombe brothers, Ryder made it his mission to have clubs encourage young golfers like them. Over the following few years, Ryder expanded this idea with sponsorship of tournaments. His interest in challenge matches ultimately resulted in his donation of the famous Ryder Cup trophy.

Ernest and Charles Whitcombe played in the 1929 and 1931 Ryder Cup events, representing Britain. All three brothers played in the 1935 Ryder Cup.

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