In most professional golf events (like the Rolex Series), it’s one player versus a hundred-plus, chasing down a trophy and a pile of cash. Stroke play over 72 holes is a compelling, easily digestible format that makes great TV week in and week out on the PGA tour. Golf at the highest level is usually played as an individual sport. But every two years, fans are treated to a different sort of golf competition: The Ryder Cup and team golf!
It’s an event synonymous with tradition, and sportsmanship, where the biggest names in the game come together to compete as a group for the win.
The biennial event features a dozen of the best players from the U.S. battling the top echelon from the U.K. and Europe.
2023 Ryder Cup Coverage: How to Watch
- Thursday, September 28: Opening Ceremonies @ 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET on Golf Channel
- Friday, September 29: 1:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET on USA Network
- Saturday, September 30: 1:30 to 3 a.m. ET on USA Network and 3 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock
- Sunday, October 1: 5:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock
2023 Ryder Cup Schedule
The teams will play foursomes (a.k.a. alternate shot) and four balls (a.k.a. best ball or low ball) for the first two days. On Sunday, things will heat up with players facing off in head to head singles matches.
Friday Schedule: Foursomes
Jon Rahm / Tyrrell Hatton
Scottie Scheffler / Sam Burns
Viktor Hovland / Ludvig Åberg
Max Homa / Brian Harman
Shane Lowry / Sepp Straka
Rickie Fowler / Collin Morikawa
Rory McIlroy / Tommy Fleetwood
Xander Schauffele / Patrick Cantlay
Who Won the 2021 Ryder Cup?
Team USA will head into the 2022 Ryder Cup defending their dominant 19-9 win in 2021 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. It was essentially a total rout, equaling the largest margin of victory since 1975. The American squad won four of the five sessions, tying the other—a spot of revenge as the Euros had won handily in Paris two years early: 17 ½ to 10 ½.
Ryder Cup History
The first Ryder Cup was contested nearly a century ago with the U.S. taking on a team from Great Britain and Ireland in 1927 at Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts. The Americans came out on top that year but team GB&I would win the next one. The tournament was put on hiatus during the WWII years. When it resumed in 1947, Team USA emerged as a dominant force, winning all but one Ryder Cup until 1985, six years after GB&I transitioned into Team Europe.
But calling in extra firepower from the continent eventually turned the tide for the Europeans, who now boast a record of 11-6-1 (the team that won the previous tournament retains the cup in event of a tie) against the U.S. from 1985 to today. Though the U.S. is still up 27-14 since the tournament began.
The beauty of the team format is what makes the Ryder Cup unique and motivational according to Team USA’s captain and Rolex Testimonee (what the brand calls its partner athletes) Zach Johnson.
“I love representing our country,” Johnson says. “I love being in the locker room with 11 other guys for the same mission and I love knowing that it brings out the best in me and I learn so much,” he tells Men’s Journal. “I would trade all of my wins in this event individually and as tandems to win more as a team,” he adds.
On the European squad, Luke Donald, who’s been a Rolex Testimonee for 20 years says: “It’s the purest form of competition we have in our sport. We play a lot of individual tournaments most of the time but to come together as a team, and do something more for other people rather than just yourself, elevates what The Ryder Cup is about.”
Who’s Playing in the 2023 Ryder Cup?
This year’s field includes an impressive 14 of the world’s top 15 golfers and all four reigning major champions.
- Rickie Fowler
- Jordan Spieth
- Justin Thomas
- Sam Burns
- Collin Morikawa
- Brooks Koepka
- Xander Schauffele
- Max Homa
- Patrick Cantlay
- Brian Harman
- Wyndham Clark
- Scottie Scheffler
- Nicolai Hojgaard
- Shane Lowry
- Justin Rose
- Ludvig Aberg
- Sepp Straka
- Tommy Fleetwood
- Robert MacIntyre
- Tyrrell Hatton
- Matt Fitzpatrick
- Viktor Hovland
- Rory McIlroy
- Jon Rahm
2023 Ryder Cup Course
This year, the 44th installment of the Ryder Cup will be contested at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome.
Located about 10 miles from the city center, Marco Simone Golf and Country Club isn’t familiar for most U.S. players or viewers. Originally designed by Jim Fazio in 1989, the course was restored in 2021 to enhance the drama of match play by European Golf Design and Tom Fazio II. Marco Simone has hosted four Italian Opens on the DP World Tour including the last three.
Johnson has played the course. It’s beautiful with quite a bit of character. “What I mean by that is it’s versatile; it has a lot of up, down, left, right, short, and long,” he says.
Competitors will need to work the ball a fair bit and consider their approach shots carefully.
The site is also quite hilly, with substantial elevation changes. “When you have two sessions on Friday and Saturday, it becomes very difficult to walk and navigate a golf course of this magnitude,” Johnson says. The weather should also be in the mid-80s (Fahrenheit). Players will face a bit of a physical challenge as well as a mental one. “We wouldn’t have it any other way,” he says.
“I think it’ll be a very difficult test in Rome just like it was in France,” says Rolex Testimonee Justin Thomas. “It’s going to be set up in favor of the European team but at the same time, we have a lot of very good players and have a lot of confidence in our ability to adjust and adapt to whatever challenges it throws up and the conditions give us.”
There’s nothing in sport quite like your first Ryder Cup. Sure, like other big golf events there’s a Rolex clock at the first tee. After all, the brand has been backing the game for 60 years and now sponsors every major championship, men’s and women’s, as well as other team events, but there’s no way you could hear it ticking.
Ryder Cups are notoriously raucous and the volume of the crowd is staggering. For players, it’s both nerve-racking and energizing.
“The first tee at The Ryder Cup is arguably, and I’m biased, but one of the top spectacles in sport,” Johnson says. “Friday morning is probably the loudest because it’s the start of the competition, but even Sundays are obscenely loud. It’s amazing. What this competition has evolved and morphed into over the years, just keeps getting better.”
The Italians are not particularly known for their love of golf (Marco Simone GCC is actually named for a soccer player), but we should still see huge numbers of passionate fans from across the boot and the rest of the continent. Certainly numerous U.S. supporters will make the leap across the pond, some in eagle costumes or Tiger onesies (even though he’s not playing), but they’ll be outnumbered, giving the Europeans a serious home field advantage.
Growing the Game of Golf
Golf is a popular game in countries like the U.S., U.K., South Korea, and Japan. But for much of the world, it’s a niche sport. For the three days of competition, interest swells around the globe.
“I think The Ryder Cup is also the biggest marketing tool that golf has,” says world No. 3 Jon Rahm. “It’s the biggest event that have, by far. It’s the one time some of the best players in the world are not playing for themselves and instead come together to create what, on paper, would otherwise be an exhibition.”
“Both teams always fight to the very end because of how much it matters to all of us. It’s such a unique competition,” he says. “Even if your team loses, it’s still extremely fun and special to have been a part of it. It’s the closest us golfers will ever feel to what other sportsmen and women experience when playing in sold-out stadiums.”
In fact, Rahm traces his genesis in the game of golf to the 1997 Ryder Cup, when he was not quite three years old. After attending the tournament, his father took up the game. “I actually spoke to my father recently about this and said: ‘What would have happened if the 1997 Ryder Cup didn’t take place in Spain?’ “
Had his father not played golf, Rahm may never have fallen in love with the sport either.
“The 1997 Ryder Cup was the spark that ignited my passion for the game. I cannot quantify or put into words how much it means, but it’s hugely important to me,” he adds.
Will the 2023 installment be as impactful for a young Italian player? We might need to wait for 2043 to find out, but for now, Ciao Italia, piacere e Benvenuti nel golf!