The Ryder Cup – celebrating a Liberal invention

Whilst the nation celebrated Europe’s triumph and the champagne flowed at Celtic Manor, few people will have realised that the Ryder Cup was introduced by a Liberal politician.

Sam Ryder was an entrepreneur and golfing enthusiast, who built his fortune by selling garden seeds in small ‘penny packets’ to ordinary households. A keen amateur golfer, with a single figure handicap, Ryder proposed a tournament between British and American golfers, with a trophy manufactured by the jewellers Mappin and Webb at a cost of 250 guineas. The first official match for the Ryder Cup took place at Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts, in June 1927.

Having moved south from Manchester to enlarge his family business, Sam Ryder was first elected as a Liberal councillor to St. Albans council in 1903. Just two years later, Ryder was elected Mayor of St. Albans, surprising his colleagues with an uncompromising assessment of the Council’s financial situation, saying “We rejoice in a debt of £40,000 and our income is raised every year and mainly all spent or bespoken itself before we raise it so that we are in a sense debt collectors. It is humiliating”. During his term as Mayor, Ryder instituted sweeping changes in the way the council was run. He remained a councillor until 1916.

Sam Ryder was also a great benefactor in St. Albans, funding Verulam Golf Club and also the building of the Trinity United Reform Church in the centre of the town.

So how many of the millionaire golfers, sponsors, media and spectators who descended on Celtic Manor at the weekend knew that the whole event is down to a Liberal councillor?

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One Comment

  • That brought a smile to my face.

    Being a councillor doesn’t have to be all about wheelie bins and dog dirt then?

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