The Ryder Cup is a match play event, with each match worth one point. The competition format was reduced in scope from the formats used from 1963 through 1975, with only 20 matches played instead of 32. The schedule of play was as follows:
Day 1 — 5 foursome (alternate shot) matches
Day 2 — 5 four-ball (better ball) matches
Day 3 — 10 singles matches
With a total of 20 points, 10½ points were required to win the Cup. All matches were played to a maximum of 18 holes.