How Is the Ryder Cup Captain Chosen?

By M.L. Rose
The 2012 Ryder Cup captains, Jose Maria Olazabal and Davis Love III, pose with the Ryder Cup.
The 2012 Ryder Cup captains, Jose Maria Olazabal and Davis Love III, pose with the Ryder Cup.

The Ryder Cup is a professional match-play competition held every two years between a U.S. team and a European team. The event dates to 1927, when Samuel A. Ryder commissioned a trophy that he gave to the PGA of Great Britain and Ireland to symbolize the winner of a competition between British and U.S. golf teams. In 1979, the British team was expanded to include players from all of Europe, and the match has been much more competitive since that change.

U.S. Selection

The American Ryder Cup captain is selected by the PGA of America. The PGA's Executive Committee -- including the president, vice president, secretary and honorary president -- discusses various candidates and makes a recommendation to the PGA's board of directors. The 21-person board – which includes 14 district directors, two independent directors and a player director from the PGA Tour, along with the four Executive Committee officers – votes to select the captain.

U.S. Selection Criteria

There are no established rules regarding who may be selected as the U.S. captain; however, the PGA’s unwritten policy has been to select a captain who has played in the Ryder Cup and has won at least one major championship (Masters, U.S. Open, British Open or PGA Championship). While there is no policy regarding age, the five U.S. captains from 2004 to 2012 were all between 46 and 50 years old when the Ryder Cup in which they captained was played.

European Selection

The European Tour's Tournament Committee selects the European team’s captain, although the choice must be ratified by the European Ryder Cup Players and Stakeholders Board. Recent European selections have had similar characteristics to their American counterparts. European captains from 2004 to 2012 have ranged from 45 to 51 years old and all have had previous Ryder Cup playing experience. The only one of the five captains who didn’t win a major championship was 2010 captain Colin Montgomerie, who finished second in majors five times.

Captains’ Duties

The captains meet and decide on the order of play for the first two days of the three-day Ryder Cup. The captains set their teams' lineups and also choose some of the teams' players (those who don't qualify automatically by points systems for each team).

About the Author

M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

Photo Credits

  • Andrew Redington/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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