Ryder Cup Scoring Format Explained

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Luke is an avid weekend-warrior golfer from the East Coast who plays golf more than he cares to admit.

If you are more than an amateur golfer, you have heard of the Ryder Cup. The Ryder Cup is a tournament that draws the top golf players of the world to compete. It is an exciting event to watch but can be confusing if you don’t understand the Ryder Cup scoring format. 

Our Golf Clubs is here to explain the game of golf, including how top tournaments are played and scored. We know it can sometimes be confusing if you are new. 

At Our Golf Clubs, we provide more than Golf industry insider information. We also have great articles and weekly roundups so you can stay up to speed on all things golf. Check back often! We add new tips and ideas every week!

This article will look at the history of the Ryder Cup and explain how it is played and scored. Hopefully, it will clear some of the uncertainty regarding the tournament. 

Ryder Cup Scoring Format

The History of The Ryder Cup

The very first Ryder Cup was played in 1927. The first players held it in Worcester, Massachusetts. At that tournament, both American and British opponents participated in the game for the trophy. 

Since 1979 it has been a two-day event held on a Friday and Saturday. Four players play a four-ball match alone with a single-player day. It is still the format that is followed today. 

The location of the tournament rotates between the United States and Europe. Players qualify to play based on points played and earned in PGA tournaments and the World Golf Championships. There are also spots reserved for captain picks specifically. 

It’s one of the grandest tournaments in golf, honored by players who earn a spot to play in the tournament. The event is held every two years. 

Twenty-four of the best players are invited to play in the Ryder Cup. It is the only tournament where winning, not prize money, is the goal of the match. 

The Ryder Cup: The Rules


For the singles format, players from each team pick a player to represent them in play. In the game, the player with the lowest score on the hole wins that hole. If there is a tie, then the hole is halved. 

Players do not have to play each hole in the match. On the putting green, they may concede to their opponent. The opponent then takes the score he would have had on the next play and moves to the next hole. 


With the four-ball Ryder Cup format, two teams of two play together. Both members of each two-person team play their own balls, so four balls are in play. 

Each team counts the lower of their two scores on each hole. The team with the lowest score at the end wins. If the low score ends up a tie, then the hole is halved. 

Foursome matches

With this Ryder Cup format, each two-person team plays one ball per hole and players take turns until every hole is complete. Players alternate shots. One player tees off on odd number holes and the other on even. 

The player that scores lowest on each hole wins that hole. Again, if scores are tied, the holes are halved. 

The Ryder Cup Scoring Format

Every match is worth 1 point, and if it ends in a draw, it is worth ½ a point. The first team to reach 14 ½ points, out of 28 available points, wins the tournament. If the points are tied by chance, then the team that currently holds the Ryder Cup retains it. 

During the three days of match play, 28 matches are played by top players like Tiger Woods and Ian Poulter. There are no extra holes played during any of the matches. Should any play end in a tied hole, it is halved. 

2021 Ryder Cup

The 2021 Ryder Cup is scheduled to be held at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin, on September 21-26, 2021. The course has previously hosted 3 PGA tournaments in 2004, 2010, and 2015. Many golfers have earned their spot, and some captain picks remain. Some qualified players include: 

  • Dustin Johnson
  • Bryson Dechambeau
  • Justin Thomas
  • Collin Morikawa
  • Xander Schauffele
  • Brooks Koepka
  • Patrick Reed
  • Tony Finau
  • Daniel Berger
  • Webb Simpson

The course is known for its rugged but beautiful terrain. It is a course that visitors can only walk on so that no carts can be on the course. It’s located on 2 miles of Lake Michigan and considered a masterpiece golf course by professionals in the golf community. 

Who Has Won The Most Ryder Cups?

You might be curious who has one the most Ryder Cups. For singles, the title goes to Colin Montgomerie with 6. He had his wins between 1991-2006. 

Believe it or not, the youngest Ryder Cup captain was Arnold Palmer in 1963, at 34 years old. The oldest was Tom Watson in 2014 at 65 years old. 

One of the most wonderful things about the game of golf is that you can enjoy it for a lifetime! It’s never too late to start, and if you start early in life, you can enjoy the game for decades. 

Now That You Know How The Ryder Cup Is Scored, Are You Ready for More?

We hope you learned a bit about the fantastic Ryder Cup Tournament. It’s one of the grandest events in golf. We hope you are a little more prepared to enjoy the match this September. Now you’re ready to follow players as they play for the trophy. 

When you are ready to learn more about golf, Our Golf Clubs has the information you need. To grow your knowledge about this sport we all love, check our blog for weekly reviews. We know you will find something exciting to read and enjoy! 

Luke Griffin

Luke is an avid weekend-warrior golfer from the East Coast who plays golf more than he cares to admit.

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