You’ve heard of the Ryder Cup and might even know a little bit about the storied golf tournament, but do you know anything about the man behind the trophy?
In this age of negotiating naming rights and corporate sponsorships, a youngster recently suggested the Ryder Cup was named after the Ryder Truck Company.
Because many of you are interested in golf and since Focus on the Family will be sponsoring a special event (more on this in a moment) in conjunction with this year’s tournament in Medinah, Illinois, I thought it would be fun to share five things you probably don’t know about the history of the Ryder Cup.
This biannual competition between the U.S. and teams from Europe dates back to the early part of the 20th century. Lost in the excitement of today’s competition and the rich tradition of the legendary tournament is the man behind the trophy:
1. Samuel Ryder, the namesake of the Ryder Cup Trophy, was a devout Christian businessman who made his fortune selling seed packets (for a penny!) through the mail in Great Britain.
2. Mr. Ryder was a Sunday school teacher as a young man and an ordained deacon at Trinity Congregational Church (now Trinity United Reformed Church).
3. Sam Ryder never played golf until he was 50 years of age when he was encouraged by a doctor to pick up the game in order to exercise and get some fresh air.
4. Wanting to share his wealth and spread appreciation for the game of golf, Mr. Ryder donated a trophy to the Free Church Ministers Golf Society in 1902 for a simple tournament.
5. That initial competition in 1902 was twenty-five years before official match play began. Still championing the sport, Mr. Ryder sponsored an international golf tournament in 1926 and donated another gold trophy in 1927 for a contest between American and British players.
In keeping with the evangelistic mission of Sam Ryder, I’m delighted to announce that Focus on the Family will be hosting a “1902 Sam Ryder Trophy Evening.” The event will take place on Wednesday September 26th, two days before the tournament begins. If you’re in the area, I’d love to have you swing by the Hotel Arista in Naperville, Illinois. I’ll be speaking there joined by the founder of Care for the Family, Rob Parsons and former Ryder Cup player, assistant captain, and British Open Champion, Bill Rogers. The 1902 trophy will be on display.