Beds, Herts & Bucks

Ryder Cup exhibition at St Albans' Verulamium Museum

The Ryder Cup
Image caption The famous trophy is welcomed by Sandy Jones, Ken Brown, Phil Weaver and Richard Hills.

The Ryder Cup Trophy has made a one-off appearance at a Hertfordshire museum for the launch of an exhibition to celebrate the golf event's history.

Verulamium Museum in St Albans is hosting the Ryder Cup Heritage Exhibition until the end of June.

The story of the tournament, which began in 1926 and was the idea of the city's seed merchant Samuel Ryder, is told using storyboards and memorabilia.

The display will then go on a tour, ending at the 2014 competition at Gleneagles.

The exhibition covers the history of the biennial contest from its start as a friendly match between British and American professional golfers to one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

Now the trophy is contested over three days with top players from Europe taking on their American rivals.

Items on display include match programmes, gifts exchanged between competitors and personal items from past players.

Image caption The captain's bag presented to Bernard Gallacher in 1995

The seeds of the tournament were first planted in St Albans when Ryder discovered a passion for golf.

He had regular lessons at Verulam Golf Club's head pro Abe Mitchell who went on to play in the Ryder Cup and is the little figure adorning the top of the trophy.

Ryder organised a golf match between the professionals of Britain and America in June 1926 at Wentworth and it was decided matches should continue between the two teams on a biennial basis.

The Ryder Cup was officially first played in June 1927 at Worcester Country Club, Massachusetts, and a very rare menu from the banquet given prior to this match is part of the exhibition.

The display has been put together by the Professional Golf Association's heritage curator, David Wright, who has accumulated the memorabilia over the past two decades.

He said he was "delighted" the history of the competition had finally "come home".

"The city of St Albans allowed Samuel Ryder to develop his business interests, and from that opportunity developed his love of golf, and look where we are today," he said.

"I think the way the matches have lasted for the past 85 years is a testimony to Ryder's forethought and perhaps his hopes. I think he'd be a bit flummoxed when he realised just what his legacy has developed."

Image caption Tony Jacklin was presented with an inscribed casket by his European team mates in 1985

As the word got round about the exhibition he was able to invite members of past teams and members of the public to offer particular items as gifts.

The piece that he was most pleased with is a casket which the European team gave to captain Tony Jacklin in 1985, inscribed with its autographs.

"It is a most handsome piece," he said.

"I saw that in Tony's home in Florida in 2007, and right from that moment I knew I wanted it because I thought it was a most unusual gift.

"Luckily Tony chose to offer a number of items to a special website and we bid successfully through that - we are very privileged to have it."

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