1959 Ryder Cup: The Last of Its Kind

Big changes ahead following USA's 8.5 to 3.5 victory

Sam Snead of the United States practises his swing on 1st September 1962 at The Walton Heath Golf Club in Walton on the Hill, United Kingdom
Sam Snead (pictured in 1962) was player-captain for Team USA in the 1959 Ryder Cup, and it was his last appearance as a player in the event. Don Morley/Getty Images

The United States got back on the winning side at the 1959 Ryder Cup, claiming a 5-point victory. This Cup was the site of several notable "lasts" in the tournament's history - big changes were ahead.

Dates: Nov. 6-7, 1959
Score: USA 8.5, Great Britain 3.5
Where: Eldorado Country Club in Palm Desert, Calif.
Captains: Great Britain - Dai Rees; USA - Sam Snead

Following this Ryder Cup, the all-time standing of the tournament was 10 wins for Team USA and three wins for Team Great Britain & Ireland.

1959 Ryder Cup Team Rosters

Great Britain & Ireland
Peter Alliss, England
Ken Bousfield, England
Eric Brown, Scotland
Norman Drew, Northern Ireland
Bernard Hunt, England
Peter Mills, England
Christy O'Connor Sr., Ireland
Dai Rees, Wales
Dave Thomas, Wales
Harry Weetman, England
United States
Julius Boros
Jack Burke Jr.
Dow Finsterwald
Doug Ford
Jay Hebert
Cary Middlecoff
Bob Rosburg
Sam Snead
Mike Souchak
Art Wall

Both captains - Rees and Snead - were playing captains.

Notes on the 1959 Ryder Cup

In several important ways, the 1959 Ryder Cup was the last of its kind:

  • It was the last one at which only 12 points were at stake;
  • it was the last one at which the matches were 36 holes each;
  • it was the last one in the original format.

The original format, in use since the inaugural 1927 Ryder Cup, was this: Four foursomes matches on Day 1, followed by eight singles matches on Day 2. The switch to 18-hole matches happened at the 1961 Ryder Cup, and the addition of fourballs to the format happened at the 1963 Ryder Cup.

The PGA of America media guide points out that the 1959 Ryder Cup also was the final one to which one of the teams traveled by sea, Team GB arriving in America by ship. The last leg of another long journey from the East Coast to the California desert was a plane ride from Los Angeles to Palm Springs - and the plane carrying the Brits hit severe turbulence.

The pilot struggled to keep control of the plane, which dropped dangerously.

The pilot turned the plane back to Los Angeles. Another flight was arranged, but the GB&I golfers were pretty shaken up by the experience. Captain Dai Rees decided another mode of transportation would be better for his players' nerves, so they wound up riding a bus from L.A. to the golf course in Palm Springs.

On the course, the Americans took a slim advantage in foursomes, then dominated the singles matches. Eric Brown had the only singles victory for Team Great Britain. For Team USA, Dow Finsterwald, Bob Rosburg and Mike Souchak each won the maximum 2 points.

Sam Snead was player-captain for the United States, and it was the last of Snead's seven appearances as a player in a Ryder Cup. His first was 1937. Julius Boros made his Ryder Cup debut for Team USA, partnering Finsterwald to a foursomes victory.

Day 1 Results


  • Bob Rosburg/Mike Souchak, U.S., def. Bernard Hunt/Eric Brown, GB, 5 and 4
  • Julius Boros/Dow Finsterwald, U.S., def. Dai Rees/Ken Bousfield, GB, 2-up
  • Christy O'Connor Sr./Peter Alliss, GB, def. Art Wall/Doug Ford, U.S., 3 and 2
  • Sam Snead/Cary Middlecoff, U.S., halved with Harry Weetman/Dave Thomas, GB

    Day 2 Results


    • Doug Ford, U.S., halved with Norman Drew, GB
    • Mike Souchak, U.S., def. Ken Bousfield, GB, 3 and 2
    • Bob Rosburg, U.S., def. Harry Weetman, GB, 6 and 5
    • Sam Snead, U.S., def. Dave Thomas, GB, 6 and 5
    • Art Wall, U.S., def. Christy O'Connor Sr., GB, 7 and 6
    • Dow Finsterwald, U.S., def. Dai Rees, GB, 1-up
    • Peter Alliss, GB, halved with Jay Hebert, U.S.
    • Eric Brown, GB, def. Cary Middlecoff, US, 4 and 3

    Player Records at the 1959 Ryder Cup

    Each golfer's record, listed as wins-losses-halves:

    Great Britain & Ireland
    Peter Alliss, 1-0-1
    Ken Bousfield, 0-2-0
    Eric Brown, 1-1-0
    Norman Drew, 0-0-1
    Bernard Hunt, 0-1-0
    Peter Mills, did not play
    Christy O'Connor Sr., 1-1-0
    Dai Rees, 0-2-0
    Dave Thomas, 0-1-1
    Harry Weetman, 0-1-1
    United States
    Julius Boros, 1-0-0
    Jack Burke Jr., did not play
    Dow Finsterwald, 2-0-0
    Doug Ford, 0-1-1
    Jay Hebert, 0-0-1
    Cary Middlecoff, 0-1-1
    Bob Rosburg, 2-0-0
    Sam Snead, 1-0-1
    Mike Souchak, 2-0-0
    Art Wall, 1-1-0

    1957 Ryder Cup | 1961 Ryder Cup
    Ryder Cup Results