The Amateurs are Worth the Prose

On the very same day that Global Golf Post made its worldwide debut, the Nationwide Tour released its 2010 schedule and boasted of four events to be played outside the U.S….in New Zealand, Australia, Panama and Colombia. Also on that same day, Callaway Golf trumpeted the fact that it had opened a wholly-owned subsidiary in India.

Coincidence? I think not.

With the decision to re-admit golf into the Olympics last fall, it dawned on much of the golf world that the game had become global. But if you are reading this column, you already knew that.

The pros are not the only ones who are being impacted by this trend; amateur golf has also seen significant change. What was once the province of the American college golfer has become a veritable United Nations of golf. Consider that the current No. 1-ranked male player in the World Amateur Golf Rankings is Italian, No. 2 hails from France, and the third-ranked player calls Canada home.

Here is another way to look at it. In 1971, the very talented Canadian Gary Cowan won his second U.S. Amateur. For the next 31 years, the U.S. Amateur was won by an American. This changed suddenly in 2003 when Australia’s Nick Flanagan took home the Havemeyer Trophy at Oakmont CC. Since then, international players have won four of six American amateur titles, the winners coming from Italy, Scotland, New Zealand and Korea.

Make no mistake about it, the elite amateur game is being played all over the world, and today’s top players—tomorrow’s pro golf stars—have acquired a passport at a young age. Two weeks ago, 64 golfers from North, South and Central America as well as the Caribbean convened in Buenos Aires to play the Copa de las Americas. Nearly 300 amateurs, men and women from 75 nations, will travel to these same Argentine golf courses next fall for the World Amateur Team Championships. This past week, France’s Victor Dubuisson, No. 2 in the world, ventured to Australia to compete in the Master of the Amateurs Championship. There he played in a small but talented field that included five Walker Cup team members from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

And then there is the Asian Amateur, one of the most important developments in the amateur game in decades. Augusta National Golf Club collaborated with The R&A to create a new world-class amateur event late last fall. Their hope is to elevate this tournament into the top tier in the world, alongside the U.S, British, and Australian amateurs. By offering the winner an exemption into the Masters and a pass to the final qualifying of the Open Championship, they gave the tournament instant importance. There are whispers that these two organizations may well create something similar in South America in the next few years.

At a time when media coverage of golf is declining generally, the amateur segment of the game goes virtually ignored on a global basis. It is our goal at GGP to become global amateur golf’s best friend; to be the global water cooler for this game. Our coverage will be comprehensive, insightful and informative. We will introduce you to some of the world’s finest amateurs with our weekly “20 Questions With Andy D,” and our amateur “gateway page” will link you to the results of every counting event in the WAGR. We will also commence a column next week called, simply, The Amateur Game. You’ll hear from a choir of observers on every aspect of this game, for both men and women, regardless of age. It will look at the people, the history, and the events that make the elite amateur both interesting and exciting.

In the weeks ahead, we will add a significant amount of content relating to the junior amateur game. Why kids, you might ask? Consider that the last two winners of the U.S. Amateur were just 17 when they hoisted the trophy. And the current champion of the world’s oldest amateur championship? A 16-year-old prodigy from Italy, Matteo Manassero. He is also the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world. Sixteen.

The elite, global amateur game has never been healthier or more interesting. We look forward to taking you inside this vital segment of our sport every week of the year.


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