With the Ryder Cup just two months away golf fans in the Midlands have a unique opportunity to discover more about its origins thanks to an exhibition at the University of Birmingham.
The Ryder Cup Heritage Exhibition at the university’s historic Great Hall, tells the story of one of golf’s most famous tournaments and will be on display to the public over the summer.
The collection of memorabilia includes rare photographs and personal items from past players dating back to the first matches in 1927.
A series of specially created display cases and story boards recount the history of the matches between American and British PGA professionals of the day, covering its growth from a friendly event supported by St Albans seed merchant Samuel Ryder to one of the biggest sporting events in the world.
PGA chief executive Sandy Jones and the university’s provost and vice-principal, Prof Michael Sheppard, officially opened the exhibition on Monday night with PGA captain-elect Neil Selwyn-Smith and several Midland PGA professionals also in attendance.
“It is very fitting that the exhibition is being hosted here at the University of Birmingham with whom we enjoy a special partnership,” said Jones.
“When you look at the life of Samuel Ryder he was both a visionary and benevolent. He believed in people and the value of people, very much like the University of Birmingham. They never forget the value of people and their graduates are leaders across the world.
“Samuel Ryder did many things but is most recognised for the Ryder Cup. It is now one of the world’s major sporting events and that is the legacy he has left. We have brought this exhibition here to tell the story of the Ryder Cup.
“We are privileged to be able to display the exhibition here and hope that people take the time to come and enjoy it.”
The Great Hall is the graduation venue for PGA assistants coming through the PGA foundation degree and also the Applied Golf Management Studies degree pioneered by the University of Birmingham and the PGA.
Prof Sheppard took the opportunity to highlight the strong educational ties between the two organisations.
“We are extremely proud to be able to host this Ryder Cup exhibition on our campus and also enhance the special relationship between our two prestigious organisations,” he said. “The work of Dr Martin Toms and Dr Kyle Phillpots and the PGA over the past 12 years has been absolutely critical to the success of this relationship.
“So while we are able to celebrate the success and history of the Ryder Cup we are also able to celebrate the success of this partnership and relationship which is very special.
“Indeed at the end of this week, the students from the Applied Golf Management Studies degree programme will be here in this very hall for graduation.
“And it is the success of this programme and the Foundation degree that has firmly established our relationship as world leaders in this area. Eleanor Woodall, one of our students last year, is working on Ryder Cup France 2018 and in the end it is the success of our students that means these degree programmes are in such demand.”
The exhibition is at Aston Webb Great Hall until 21 September. Opening hours are Monday to Friday 9-5 p.m. Entry is free.
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