Golfers and sports enthusiasts will have a unique opportunity to delve into the history of one of sport’s greatest events during a special Ryder Cup exhibition in St Albans.
The Ryder Cup Heritage Exhibition tells the story of golf’s most famous tournament and it takes pride of place at The Verulamium Museum from Friday, 20 April to the end of June.
A series of fascinating items and memorabilia will be on display, charting the iconic golf event from its earliest beginnings as a friendly match between British and American PGA professionals through to the impact made by one of St Albans’ most illustrious sons, Samuel Ryder, who donated the famous gold trophy.
A civic reception, hosted by the Mayor of St Albans City and District Cllr Aislinn Lee, will officially open the exhibition on Thursday, 19 April, with the Ryder Cup trophy also present to celebrate the launch.
The exhibition features personal items from past players as well as rarely seen photographs while a series of specially created display cases and graphic story boards recount the history of the matches, covering its growth from a friendly competition to one of the biggest sporting events in the world.
Organisers are also hoping that the exhibition can be a useful educational resource and will encourage local schools to visit the museum and discover the Ryder Cup’s rich links with St Albans.
David Wright, the PGA’s heritage curator, has painstakingly accumulated memorabilia over the past two decades, and believes the exhibition has a broad appeal.
“The Ryder Cup has a rich history, and Samuel Ryder and St Albans, where he nurtured his love of golf, plays a special part in that history,” he said. “With the exhibition we are trying to reach out to the local community to show how the matches evolved and how the contest developed over the decades and became one of the most compelling events in world sport.
“We are also hoping to get local school children involved as it will be an opportunity for them to come along and understand what the Ryder Cup means and how Sam Ryder and St Albans fits into that story.”
Cllr Aislinn Lee, the Mayor of St Albans City and District, said: “I am delighted that this special Ryder Cup exhibition is being hosted here in St Albans, the former home of Samuel Ryder, the founder of this prestigious competition. It will be a wonderful opportunity for visitors to find out more about the link between what is of one of the world’s greatest sporting events and our historical city.”
Seed merchant Samuel Ryder, of course, is inextricably linked with the biennial matchplay contest, his interest sparked by discovering a passion for golf late in his life at aged 50 when, at the behest of a local vicar, he tried golf at the local club Verulam Golf Club.
Quickly obsessed with golf, he had regular lessons with head pro Abe Mitchell who went on to play in The Ryder Cup and is the little figure adorning the top of the trophy.
Having witnessed an early friendly match between Great Britain and America at Wentworth, Ryder became a prime mover in making it a regular affair and donated the striking gold cup that will again be the focus of attention when Europe defend it against America in Medinah, Chicago, later this summer.
PGA News www.PGA.info
St Albans Museums www.stalbansmuseums.org.uk/Sites/Verulamium-Museum