Ryder Cup Format: A Complete Guide to the Scoring and Points System

Published 09/23/2021, 7:00 AM EDT
Golf – The 2020 Ryder Cup – Whistling Straits, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, U.S. – September 21, 2021 Team Europe’s Ian Poulter and Team Europe’s Paul Casey walk to the 10th tee during a practice round REUTERS/Brian Snyder


The Ryder Cup is a prestigious event that takes place once every two years. In this tournament, top players from Team USA and Europe lock horns against each other for three days. It is a biennial men’s golf competition between Europe and the United States. The venue for this event keeps alternating between courses in the USA and Europe. 

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Meanwhile, both teams have 12 players in their squad, with a non-playing captain managing the entire group. Moreover, the skipper has a deputy under him who assists him in taking decisions and creating strategies to win the trophy. But what exactly is the format of the Ryder Cup? Let us find out. 

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What is the Ryder Cup format?

PARIS, FRANCE – OCTOBER 16: A detailed view as a Ryder Cup golf ball is pictured on the tee during the Ryder Cup 2018 Year to Go event at Le Golf National on October 16, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

The Ryder Cup has three different formats, played over three days. So, let us look at each of the formats in detail to understand the working and points system.

Four-ball – In four-ball, each member of a two-man team plays his own ball, and hence four balls are in play on every hole. Each side counts the lowest of its two scores on each hole, and the team whose player has the lowest score wins the hole. However, if the scores remain the same, the hole is halved.

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Foursomes – In foursomes, each two-man team plays one ball per hole. And players taking turns until each hole is complete. Moreover, players alternate hitting tee shots, with one player taking it on odd-numbered holes while the other hitting it on even-numbered holes. Meanwhile, the team with a low score on each hole wins the hole. But if the scores are the same, then the hole is halved. 

Singles – In singles, each match features one player from each team. The player with the lower score on each hole wins that hole. But if the scores remain the same, the hole is halved.    

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How is the scoring done?

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Each match is worth one point. But the games which end in a tie are worth 1/2 point. Moreover, the first team to reach 14 ½ of the 28 points available wins the Ryder Cup outright. However, if it ends in a tie and if both teams score 14 points each, then the defending champion of the Ryder Cup retains the trophy. 

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Amey Kulkarni

367 articles

Amey Kulkarni is a Golf writer at EssentiallySports. He is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in mass media. Before joining EssentiallySports he used to write articles on Golf and Cricket on his personal blog cricgolf.

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