The 2014 Ryder Cup will be held at the historic course in Gleneagles, Scotland from September 26-28. The prestigious golfing tournament between Europe and the United States is held every two years and was won by Europe in dramatic fashion in 2012. The competition lasts for three days, and each team comprises 12 players, consisting of 9 or 10 players that have qualififed based on tournament results and several “wild card” selections chosen by each team’s non-playing captain.
In 2014, Paul McGinley will captain Europe, while the Americans will be led by Tom Watson, one of the most decorated and successful players in the history of the sport. The competition is fiercely competitive, and attracts large and often partisan crowds who cheer on their heroes. Many of the world’s top players are keen participants.
The format is varied, with the first two days featuring “fourball” and “foursome” matches, in which four pairs of players from each team compete, followed by the final day in which all 12 players from each team compete head-to-head in singles games. Each match scores 1 point to the winning side (or half a point each in the event of a tie). There are 28 points in total available over the three days of competition. The side which reaches 14 1/2 or more points is deemed victorious and holds the Ryder Cup. Should the match end with both sides tied on 14 points, the European team currently holding the cup will retain it.
The Ryder Cup was first held in 1927 and was regularly won by the American side. In more recent times, however, Europe has dominated the competition, with several historic and thrilling victories since 1985.
The Ryder Cup
Originally played between professional golfers from Great Britain & Ireland and the USA, the Ryder Cup became a battle between Europe and the US in 1979. The change was made to make the competition more competitive after years of domination by the States. Today, the Ryder Cup is the biggest team competition in golf.
The British Open
Professional golf’s oldest major, the British Open is often thought of as the most challenging major in golf. Played on links courses, weather conditions can prove to be such a daunting test that even some of golf’s greats have posted embarrassing scores.
The US Masters
The US Masters is held in Augusta, Georgia every year, and has arguably the most attractive setting of any big golf tournament. The handing over of the green jacket from the previous year’s winner to the current is one of golf’s great traditions.
The US Open
The oldest major in the United States, the US Open, like the British Open, is played at different venues each year.
If the best male golfer of all-time is judged by the amount of majors that he’s won, then Jack Nicklaus stands at the summit of golf’s greats. ‘The Golden Bear’ won 18 majors in his career between 1963 and 1986, including triumphing at all four majors on several occasions. His rivalry with Arnold Palmer was legendary, and he saw off the challenges of Gary Player, Lee Trevino, and Tom Watson to remain golf’s leading player for around two decades.
Seve Ballesteros was arguably the most naturally gifted golfer to ever come out of Europe. His prestigious talent was evident early in his career when he became the youngest winner of the British Open of the 20th Century in 1979. Known for his brave and attacking game, Ballesteros was sometimes dismissed by the purists for his uninhibited approach, which sometimes saw possible victories slip from his fingers. An inspirational figure in the Ryder Cup for Europe, and a majors winner several times over, Seve Ballesteros died of cancer aged only 54 in 2011.
Tiger Woods replaced Seve Ballesteros as golf’s most exciting player in the late 1990s. Woods, though, has always had a more controlled game than the charismatic Spaniard, and the American combines great length on his driving with great accuracy – both in reaching the fairways, and on the putting green. Along with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, Tiger Woods has won all four of golf’s majors. In the early years of the 21st Century the Tiger was so dominant that he appeared to be making golf look easy, but injuries have made the 14-time major winner appear more human in recent years. Despite a long period without a major, however, Woods is still assured of his status among the all-time greats of golf.
Known for his penchant for wearing black Gary Player bought an element of cool to the game of golf. The South African always believed in the value of practising, and famously said that the more he practised the luckier he got. A contrasting figure to the powerful build of Jack Nicklaus, Player matched the American in terms of longevity, with his nine majors being won in three different decades.
If you have an interest in a game of golf, but you have never played before, here are some simple tips to prepare you better.
A mental game
Your mental toughness indicates how well you can play this wonderful game. Use your instincts and listen to your sixth sense. If it tells you to keep going, then do so. Let your mind take control of your body.
Although many people don’t consider golf as a fitness type of sport, it can in fact require a high level of fitness, which is only achieved through practice. You should do light weight training and cardio workouts in order to prepare for this game physically.
If you want to be a successful golf player, you need to let your body and mind work in unison. As you will be performing the same task repeatedly, it is important to allow your muscles and brain work together as one.
Other tips that you should consider include having a good grip on the club so that your hands don’t keep moving as you swing. Practice your posture while playing the game. Always maintain a good balance during the swinging motion until you have mastered all the techniques. Your feet must always be firmly places on the ground and timing is also essential. All these tips are worth the effort to make as you will be able to enjoy your game better.
Golf is considered by some to be ancient game, with its roots dating as far back as the time of the Roman Empire, or to Ancient Persia, or to the Chinese Imperial Court of the Middle Ages. What is in little doubt, however, is that the modern game, as we know it now, can be traced back to medieval Scotland.
The game spread south to England when King James VI of Scotland also became James I of England, at the end of the 16th century. Since then, it has spread all over the world, as is especially popular in the United States, where many of the world’s best-known courses are located.
The sport is one of the most popular participation sports in the world, and appeals to many because of the challenge it provides, as well as its strong social traditions. The game provides a means for many people to find enjoyment in the outdoors, when they might not suit more active or aggressive sports.
The main challenge of the sport lies in perfecting the swing that is made by a golfer’s club when he or she hit the ball. Getting the swing of the club right usually means that the ball will travel further and more accurately when struck. It is by no means as simple as it sounds, however, and many golfers have devoted their lives to the pursuit of the perfect swing.
Frustrating and enthralling in equal measure, golf remains a gripping and popular sport, both for participants and spectators.