Photo courtesy of USGA/Darren Carroll

Team golf is incredibly infectious to watch on television. This past weekend we were treated to another one of these “exhibitions” on television.  The Walker Cup is a biennial match between the United States and a team composed of players from Great Britain and Ireland- each team consists of ten amateur players and a Captain. The players are a who’s-who of the Division I collegiate ranks. The team Captain is historically a former player very similar to the criteria used by the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup Captain selection process. Being invited to play on the team is one of the most prestigious accomplishments a young male amateur player can earn. 

The 48th Walker Cup match was contested this past weekend at fabled Seminole Golf Club in Florida, a traditional Donald Ross designed course consistently ranked in the Top 20 in the world. All this sounds very nice, but what does the “Walker Cup” have to do with being a Stick or a Hack?

Well plenty! Here’s 4 quick examples of why traditions like this century old match makes a difference in your golfing world. 

    1. They pick the coolest places to play. Here in the United States the USGA selects really awesome venues.  In watching this weekend, the viewer got to witness some really skilled shot making. Compare it to Quail Hollow from the PGA Tour and the entertainment level was easily doubled. 
    2. They are amateurs, just like you. Watching the Walker Cup, you can relate. There wasn’t a million dollars on the line, they just wanted to be on the winning team. Pure and simple.
    3. Match play causes incredible shot making. Ever notice how many hole outs there are in these matches? When a player of any caliber knows they only lose one hole when they go for it rather than lose an entire tournament, we get to observe great shots. This weekend was no exception. The golf we witnessed both days was spectacular. 
    4. It’s something we all get to do. Very few golfers will ever play in a 54- or 72-hole tournament. Almost all of us at some point have an opportunity to participate in a team match. Knowing we feel the same level of pressure and camaraderie is quite cool.  

When you weigh the factors listed above, you soon figure out team matches are really fun. It’s one of the most entertaining competitive formats in golf. The best aspect of matches like the Walker Cup are the friendships you create amongst your teammates and competitors. This was a transAtlantic match- for the Stick and Hack players out there, everyone will most likely be local. You’ll meet more people to play with in the future. How great is that? 

We can go on endlessly as to why the Walker Cup is an awesome tradition. It’s a century old, started by President Bush’s family in the 1920’s. The next United States host course is none other than the famous Cypress Point Club in Monterey, CA. For the average golfer, it’s important because it inspires us to participate in similar matches. These opportunities are wonderful golfing experiences. Ask a hundred people what makes something cool, their answers will vary, but the theme will be “it’s something everyone wants to do.”

Hats off to the USGA and R&A for coordinating a successful match this past weekend. Kudos to the staff of Seminole Golf Club and their members for hosting a fine competition. Finally, to the players, thanks for wearing your heart on your sleeve, for competing at the highest level and entertaining us all at the same time. Your emotional team golf was really cool to watch and appreciate. 

Keith Stewart

Keith Stewart is a PGA Professional and storyteller. He has built a unique marketplace perspective through two decades in the golf industry. As a professional, he has worked at many prestigious clubs on the east coast, most notably, Isleworth Country Club from 1998 to 2003, home to Tiger Woods at the time. Currently, Keith uses his talent as the host of the ProShow on ESPN radio across the New York City market. His expertise in the industry blended with a comedic pop-culture filter entertains his listeners. He's a 5-time award winning PGA Professional who brings credibility to any discussion covering the world of sports. Keith resides in Hopewell, NJ with his wife Laurie and their two kids Owen and Abbey. He's a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA and an avid golfer.