The British are coming! The British are coming! And they’re bringing the Irish with them. But those won’t be muskets they’ll be shouldering on the battlefield of National Golf Links of America in September of this year. It will be all about drivers and mid-irons, wedges and putters.
September 7 and 8 will see the return of the Walker Cup Match to the site of its inaugural playing, Charles Blair Macdonald’s unquestioned masterpiece, Southampton’s National Golf Links of America. The Walker Cup, so named for its original sponsor and founder, one-time USGA President George Herbert Walker, is a biennial event alternately contested in Great Britain and the States. The match features the finest amateur players from the respective sides, and the play and players are said to represent “amateurism at its peak.”
First played in 1922, this year’s edition will be the 44th playing for the cup, and while the U.S. side has enjoyed a historic dominance of the event, the tide has shifted somewhat in the past couple of decades, with the GBI team winning six of the 12 most recent contests and currently being in possession of the cup on the strength of a 14-12 victory at Royal Aberdeen in 2011.
The captain of that victorious squad, Nigel Edwards, returns to lead this year’s as-yet-undetermined crop of young players against the American side, which itself will also be led by a returning captain, Jim Holtgrieve. Holtgrieve will be seeking his first victory as a captain, but he is no stranger to Walker Cup matches, or to victory, having been a player on three winning U.S. teams in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Holtgrieve and members of the USGA brass were on hand at National on Monday for Walker Cup media day, discussing plans for hosting the event in Southampton in September. They also reminded the gathering of reporters and photographers on hand of the rich history of the event, and how it ties in perfectly with the history of National.
The Walker Cup Match is a two-day affair featuring both foursomes (playing alternate shot) and singles matches on each day; the mornings’ four fourballs will be followed by eight singles matches on Saturday and then 10 singles matches on Sunday. Scoring is on a one-point-per-match basis. If there is a tie, the cup will remain with its current holder.
The Golf Channel will be airing coverage of the event each day, but with the match being contested at National, an even stronger-than-average spectator turnout is being expected. And with good reason—the Walker Cup Match is an opportunity to go “inside the ropes” at a major USGA tournament, which is being played on one of the most historic and architecturally important golf courses in the world. And it’s right here in Southampton.
Mark your September calendars.
Robert Durkin can be reached at email@example.com.