How Are Ryder Cup Pairings Determined? [2023 Ryder Cup]

Once the Ryder Cup matches start, there’s not much more the Team Europe and Team USA captains can do. They’ve set out their team and can now only watch them perform.

So how do the Ryder Cup captains decide on the pairings for the matches? Let’s find out.

How Are Ryder Cup Pairings Chosen?

How Are Ryder Cup Pairings Determined?

How Are Ryder Cup Pairings Determined?

The Ryder Cup pairings are determined by the team captains, who’ll pick the players based on their strengths, weaknesses and chemistry with other team members.

The process for picking the pairings largely comes down to both strategic and tactical considerations. All players at the Ryder Cup are good enough to win every game they play, but if they don’t gel well with their playing partner, it’s unlikely they will get the job done.

Therefore, the pairings choice is more so about who gets on best with who and which players are going to match up well across the round, rather than who’s the best player in the team.

This could mean picking players that have similar strengths or it could mean trying to find a combination of strengths and weaknesses which works best for the course setup.

Once the captains have made a decision on which players will be going out with who, they’ll independently submit their picks to Ryder Cup officials via an envelope prior to each session. Captains won’t know the other team’s pairings and which match they’ll be out in until the pairings have been submitted and released.

Because the captains don’t know which players from the other team are playing and in which order, choosing their team is very much about strategy.

Each session at the Ryder Cup is important, so picking the team and pairings for them requires a well-thought-out approach which can vary for each of the formats. Here’s a look at what the captains will consider when they pick pairings for each Ryder Cup format:

Foursomes Matches

The alternate shot format in the Ryder Cup matches requires accurate tee shots and clutch putting.

With only one player teeing off on each hole, it’s important to have a strong driver of the golf ball in the team. This could then mean that a player with a strong short game is paired up with the other player.

It’s also important to look at the holes and the order in which the players tee off. One player will take the odd-numbered holes and the other will have the even-numbered holes so they need to consider which holes suit a player’s game the best.

If players have played together in a previous Ryder Cup and done well, it’s usually a good idea to keep them paired up for the foursome matches as it requires a good amount of chemistry as they’re only playing one ball.

Four-ball Matches

The four-ball strategy is very different to the foursomes as both players are playing their own ball. This format is all about making lots of birdies and playing aggressively.

Making lots of pars in the better ball format won’t get the win, so players that make plenty of birdies are obviously going to be top picks for these sessions.

Finding players who match up well are key to a successful four-ball pairing.

Singles Matches

The final day is all about the singles match play where every player in the team is playing.

In Ryder Cup history, the USA team have usually done better in the singles matches compared to the European team who tend to do well in the paired formats.

Singles are no longer about team chemistry and are just about beating the opposing team player.

Team captains will pick an order from one to twelve and won’t know the order of the opposing team. Therefore they need to decide whether they get the strongest players out first hoping for a fast start in scoring, or keep the best players till last to potentially clinch a tight victory late on.

Captains also might try and anticipate what the other captain is thinking with their Ryder Cup team order and try to match that.

Final Thoughts

When it comes down to it, the winning team at the Ryder Cup is usually the one who plays the best and has the best team chemistry.

It’s totally unique to what players are playing each week on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour. The atmosphere and pressure are like no other event in golf, so finding pairings which can handle it are vital to a successful Ryder Cup week.


How do Ryder Cup matchups get set?

The Ryder Cup matches get set by the team captains before each session without knowing what the other team will look like. Captains will look for players that gel together well and have games which suit.

How do Ryder Cup matchups work?

The Ryder Cup matchups follow three different formats and the order of the matches are chosen by the team captains.

How are Ryder Cup singles matches decided?

The Ryder Cup singles matches are decided by the team captains the night before the final day. They choose the order in which the players will go out, from one to twelve, not knowing what the opposition’s team order will look like.

Ed Welton

Founder, Editor

Ed is the founder and editor at EEE Golf. He’s been playing golf for over 20 years, competing in many top amateur events. He’s played courses all over the world and played with some of the best players in the game. His aim is to help educate people about the game of golf and give insights into the sport he loves most.

Scroll to Top