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Bonhams to sell Samuel Ryder’s putter

12.05am 2nd November 2007 - Salesroom & Memorabilia - This story was updated on Friday, October 22nd, 2021

A putter that is one of only two such clubs owned by Samuel Ryder, the man who gave his name to golf’s most famous competition, the Ryder Cup, is to be sold in Bonhams’ next golfing memorabilia sale in Chester on 26th January 2008.

This historically important putter, a Robert Forgan mallet-shaped putter from c.1910, is stamped with the initials ‘SR’ and is being sold with a signed letter from Joan Scarfe Ryder’s godson, showing the history of the putter. Joan Scarfe Ryder was Samuel Ryder’s youngest daughter and her godson is the vendor.

Samuel Ryder (1858 – 1936) was an entrepreneurial character who made his fortune selling seed packets to garden lovers. When his addiction to hard work started to affect his health, aged 50, his doctor prescribed fresh air and light exercise and encouraged him to take up golf.

Initially unimpressed by the idea, he became hooked after employing Abe Mitchell – one of the top professionals of the time – as his personal coach. Not someone to do things by halves, Ryder practiced six days a week for a year before applying in 1910 for membership at his local club, Verulam, in St Albans, playing off a respectable 4 handicap. The following year he was elected captain of the club.

Ryder started sponsoring golfing events and in 1926, following an unofficial match between American and British professionals prior to that year’s Open Championship, the Ryder Cup was born.

Samuel Ryder had been watching his friend and coach Abe Mitchell compete in the singles competition, and after the match which the British team won, everyone agreed it would be a good idea to set up a similar official event. Ryder agreed to provide a trophy and commissioned Mappin & Webb to craft a gold chalice costing £100 guineas.

The first Ryder Cup took place in 1927 in Massachusetts and the competition has been running bi-annually ever since. Samuel Ryder died in 1936, having witnessed the first two home matches in 1929 and 1933.

His family also developed a passion for the game and his daughter, Joan Scarfe Ryder, was her father’s constant companion on the golf course. She continued to attend every Ryder Cup competition held in Britain until her death in 1985 aged 81.

Ryder was seen by many as ‘frequently a deadly putter’ and his prized putter now comes to the market for the first time. It is estimated to fetch £20,000 – 30,000.

Bonhams’ golfing specialist said, “The Ryder Cup is undoubtedly golf’s most exciting event and we are thrilled to be offering the Samuel Ryder’s wooden putter. There will be many golf clubs in Europe and the US that have hosted the Ryder Cup and will be interested in acquiring this important piece of golfing history.”


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