Guide: Newsround's guide to the Ryder Cup

  • 28 September 2012
The Ryder Cup is the trophy all golfers want to win Image copyright David J. Phillip

Some people think golf is slow, boring and a little bit dull - but you can't say that about the Ryder Cup.

It's the most exciting, passionate and dramatic tournament in the game, and it means everything to the players who take part!

For three days two teams of the best golfers in the world fight it out, in front of screaming crowds with the eyes of world watching every move!

Here's Newsround's guide to the Ryder Cup.

The History

The tournament happens every two years - and each time the venue swaps between America and Europe. And home advantage really counts!

It all started in 1927, when a team from Great Britain took on a team from America. It was all pretty even until after the Second World War, when the USA totally dominated. Then in 1979 a big change happened....

The Great Britain team - became a team from all over Europe! With loads of Spanish golfers joining - it became a lot closer, and it's been pretty close ever since.

What makes it so special is that having a European team is really unusual, and that's why both teams feel so passionate about it.

Each team uses 12 players for the three-day event. The first 10 players for each team are the ones who win the most money while playing in a set time period before the Ryder Cup. The team captain completes the team by picking two players of their choice, called wild cards.

Europe have won the trophy 9 times and America 7. But each contest seems to bring more and more drama - and so this year's 39th cup promises to be special...

This Year's Tournament

It's being held at the Mendinah Country Club outside Chicago in America.

Image copyright David Cannon
Image caption This year's tournament is being held in Chicago - so there will be home advantage for the USA.

In the past, European teams have thought that crowds in America have been too noisy - so it'll be really important that the European players try and ignore them!

40,000 people will be watching on along the course - so America are probably favourites because of the home advantage.

The Rules

It's a bit different to normal golf tournaments, over the 3 days players plays in three different types of match....

Foursomes

Matches are played in pairs but each pair only gets one ball to play with.

They take turns hitting the ball, with the first player hitting the tee shot, the second the second shot, the first the third and so on.

One player hits the tee shots on odd-numbered holes and the other hits them on even-numbered holes.

Four-balls

Matches are played in pairs, but each player in the pair plays their own ball.

At the end of each hole the player who needed the fewest shots counts for their team.

Singles

All 12 players from each team play one round against a member of the opposing team.

If a player wins a match they earn a point for their team. If a match finishes all-square each team earns half a point.

The first team to earn 14 and a half points wins the Ryder Cup. If the teams finish level on 14 points then the team that took the trophy last time keeps it.

If the teams are level in 2012 Europe would retain the Ryder Cup.

The Players

Players do not get paid for taking part in the Ryder Cup, playing purely for the pride of representing the US and Europe.

Image copyright JIM WATSON
Image caption Rory McIllroy is the top golfer in the world - and he plays for Europe!

This time Europe have the top ranked golfer in the world - Rory McIllroy, so could he be their big weapon? America have already said they're going to try and put him off his game.

But then USA do have one of, if not the, greatest golfer of all time in Tiger Woods. He's only won the competition once, and rarely does very well playing as part of team - but you can never rule him out!