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Samuel Ryder, the English seed salesman whose later-in-life obsession with golf fostered biennial matches between players from the United States and Great Britain, did not attend the third iteration of the event in his name, held at Scioto Country Club.This...

Golf | Scioto Country Club history: Hagen, Sarazen lead American team to reclaim Ryder Cup in 1931

Samuel Ryder, the English seed salesman whose later-in-life obsession with golf fostered biennial matches between players from the United States and Great Britain, did not attend the third iteration of the event in his name, held at Scioto Country Club.This...

Golf | Scioto Country Club history: Hagen, Sarazen lead American team to reclaim Ryder Cup in 1931

Samuel Ryder, the English seed salesman whose later-in-life obsession with golf fostered biennial matches between players from the United States and Great Britain, did not attend the third iteration of the event in his name, held at Scioto Country Club.

This was probably just as well. The weather might have killed him.

Ryder took up golf in his 50s as a way to combat his failing health. He would not have appreciated the heat wave that greeted golfers upon their arrival in central Ohio in late June 1931. For sure, far fitter Brits than Ryder wilted in the searing summer heat of Columbus, where their wool suits and heavy topcoats did not help the cooling cause.

Ryder’s absence was not the only British vacancy that contributed to the United States’ thorough 9-3 victory, allowing the Americans to reclaim the 17-inch, 4-pound trophy that Ryder had commissioned four years before at a cost of 250 English pounds.

Three of Great Britain’s top players — Henry Cotton, Percy Alliss and Audrey Boomer — also missed the matches because of arcane rules in place at the time. (Alliss and Boomer were disqualified because they weren’t working in Britain, and Cotton was kept off the team because he chose to stay in the U.S. after the Ryder Cup, and the Brits demanded that the team travel as a group.)

Just 15 years old at the time of the matches, Scioto had been awarded the Ryder Cup by the PGA of America in November 1930, and the event was hyped as the “rubber match” of the competition, the Americans having won in 1927 in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the British capturing the cup two years later at Leeds, England.

The format called for four foursome (alternate shot) matches on the first day and eight singles matches on the second day. Each match was scheduled for 36 holes.

The British were swamped from the start — in terms of their clothing as well as on the scoreboard.

The 10-player American team included six with Ryder Cup experience, notably veteran captain Walter Hagen and standouts including Gene Sarazen, Horton Smith and Leo Diegel.

Among the four rookies on the U.S. team was Denny Shute, a Cleveland native who had worked as a club pro at two central Ohio country clubs, York Temple and Brookside.

Shute, 26, took an arduous path to the first of his three Ryder Cup appearances; he played in 36-hole qualifiers on Monday and Tuesday, then played another 18-hole playoff on Wednesday to finally make the team.

Hagen, considered the best professional golfer in the world at the time, took note of Shute’s pluck and snatched him as his partner for Friday’s foursome matches, played in temperatures near 100 degrees.

Shute and Hagen rolled to a 10 and 9 victory over George Duncan and Arthur Havers, propelling the Americans to a 3-1 lead after the first day.

Saturday’s singles matches offered more of the same in terms of heat and domination. Sarazen and Billy Burke, who won the U.S. Open the following week in Toledo, got the Americans off to a proper start with 7 and 6 victories over Fred Robson and Archie Compston, respectively.

Hagen delivered the Cup-clinching win for the U.S. team by beating British captain Charles Whitcombe 4 and 3, and Shute finished it off with an 8 and 6 romp over Bert Hodson.

Afterward, the British were typically gallant in defeat.

“We have no excuses,” said Fred Pignon, the team’s manager. “We met a better team and the better team won.”

Behind the scenes, however, the Brits voiced their unhappiness about the conditions, and the British PGA filed a petition to never have to play again in the dead of summer in the States. Since then, no Ryder Cup matches in the U.S. have been held before mid-September.

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