From a small seed, a sporting feast has grown - the Ryder Cup

Fri Sep 19, 2014 12:17pm EDT
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By Martyn Herman

ST ALBANS England (Reuters) - An imposing oil portrait of one Samuel Ryder adorns a wall in Verulam Golf Club's oak-panelled bar, just in front of a panoramic window overlooking the 18th hole named after him.

The 109-year-old James Braid-designed course, just north of London in Hertfordshire, is dotted with members and societies enjoying a leisurely round in balmy September sunshine.

It's a tranquil scene -- a world away from the maelstrom that will engulf Gleneagles in a few days, as the Ryder Cup begins in front of thousands of spectators lining the course and millions of TV viewers watching the world's top golfers engage in three days of golfing combat.

Quite what Ryder, who made a fortune with a packet seed business in the leafy town of St Albans (once the Roman stronghold of Verulamium), would have thought one can only imagine. But thanks to his ground-breaking idea of a golfing match between Britain and America's finest players, one of sport's most eagerly-anticipated spectacles has grown.

When the winning point is scored in the 40th edition on Sunday Sept. 28, whether for holders Europe or the visiting Americans, caps should be doffed to the visionary who made it all possible.

The Verulam Club, tucked away off the main road into St Albans next to an industrial estate and adjacent to the railway line heading north, is proud of old Sam, as is the city of which he became Mayor in 1905.


File photograph shows Golfer Tom Watson (L) and PGA of America president Ted Bishop speaking to the press after being introduced as Ryder Cup captain in New York, December 13, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/Files