Altvater: Ryder Cup has Toledo connectionWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
The Ryder Cup will be held this week at Gleneagles in Perthshire, Scotland. It has become one of the most highly anticipated sporting events in the world. The biennial golf tournament features two 12-man teams from both Europe and the United States in match play competition and has been held since 1927.
It is not well known, however, that the idea for the Ryder Cup was born right here in Toledo, Ohio.
S.P. Jermain has been called the “Father of Public Golf in America.” He served four terms as the Chairman of Board of Parks Commissioners for the city of Toledo at the end of the 19th century and was responsible for the construction of Ottawa Park Golf Course. It opened for play in 1898 and was the first public golf course built west of New York City.
Jermain was also the president of the Inverness Club when the land was purchased for that iconic golf course.
He was one of the leaders in golf in the United States in the early 1900’s and was instrumental in convincing the USGA to bring a U.S. Open to Inverness in 1920.
The 1920 U.S. Open is historic for several reasons. An 18-year-old golfing-phenom, Bobby Jones made his first appearance in a U.S. Open at Inverness in 1920.
In the early days golf professionals were not welcome in the clubhouse of the private clubs on which they played. Mr. Jermain felt this to be an archaic practice and opened the Inverness Club locker room to the participants of the 1920 U.S. Open.
The great Walter Hagen was so appreciative of Jermain’s generosity that he took a collection among the professionals and used the funds to purchase a beautiful clock that sits proudly in the entry of the club today.
Jermain proffered the idea of holding a tournament featuring the best amateurs from Great Britain and the United States in a team competition to the then President of the PGA of America, George Sargent after the 1920 U.S. Open.
Sargent was quoted in the Toledo News-Bee in 1931,
“The credit for the idea (of the Ryder Cup) should go to Sylvanus P. Jermain of Toledo, who made the suggestion back in 1921, the year after the U.S. Open was staged at Inverness.”
The first such exhibitions were held in 1921 and a second competition was held at Gleneagles in Scotland in 1926.
Sam Ryder was involved with the 1926 event and became so enamored with the idea of the team competition that he offered to supply the trophy to the winning team, hence the Ryder Cup.
Sam Ryder got his name on the event that has become such a huge success in the world of golf, but the idea stemmed from a forward-thinking S.P. Jermain right here in Toledo.
Fred Altvater offers golf tips and videos at www.toledoohiogolflessons.com. Email him at BackNine@toledofree press.com or follow him on Twitter @tolohgolfr.