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What We Learned This Summer

Summer is over. I know this because the Chicago Cubs are deep in preparation for next year. So what did we learn during the compressed 100-day sprint that is big time amateur golf in North America?

  1. David Chung can play:
    Peter Uihlein was not a surprise; David Chung was. Stanford Junior Chung won two of the top-tier amateur tournaments, the Porter Cup and the Western Am, back to back. And he lost a well-played U.S. Amateur final match to Uihlein at Chambers Bay. Chung, now No. 2 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, was the co-star of summer ’10 and heads back to college brimming with confidence.
  1. The West Coast can play:
    If there is, as many perceive, an Eastern bias to the amateur game, then the West Coast is going about ending it in the proper way – with its golf clubs. Chung (Stanford via North Carolina) was a major factor all summer long, and California’s Joseph Bramlett won the Northeast Amateur. Seven Cal-Berkeley golf team members qualified for the U.S. Amateur. And U.S. Am quarterfinalist Patrick Cantlay, headed to UCLA, is a player to watch.
  1. Oklahoma State is loaded … as usual:
    WAGR No. 1 and No.7, Peter Uihlein and Kevin Tway, respectively, return to Stillwater for another season. Morgan Hoffman, No. 16 in the world, didn’t even bother with amateur golf this summer, playing pro events for the most part, instead. Yes, OSU will dominate college golf again this year, but it won’t matter come NCAA Championship time. The ridiculous format currently employed to identify a national champion means some school you have never heard of will take the title.
  1. Stanford is pretty deep, too:
    The Cardinal loses Joseph Bramlett, but Chung returns, along with Andrew Yun, Steve Ziegler and Sihwan Kim. Stanford, too, will fall short next June, just as Okie State will.
  1. American kids need to get out more:
    Like to the British Isles. Spend a semester abroad; learn how the game is played over there. Learn to hit golf shots, to play the ground game.
  1. Slow play is a problem:
    No surprise here, as the big-time amateur circuit is made up mostly of college kids. And in the college game, slow play is the rule, not the exception. Kudos to the Western Amateur, which handed out nine slow-play penalties. If we are going to fix this problem, all of the summer amateur events have to jump on board the effort.
  1. “Nationally competitive mid-amateur” is almost an oxymoron:
    The big three – Nathan Smith, Mike McCoy and Tim Jackson – really didn’t make much noise this summer. Beyond these three mids, who else is there? If the Walker Cup team were chosen today, there would be no mid-amateur on it.
  1. The Canadian Amateur is back:
    Props to Golf Canada and a small group of amateur golf devotees for daring to resuscitate the Canadian Amateur. It’s a crowded summer calendar, but the global talent pool is getting deeper each year. This tournament has the potential to become a key international amateur event if it stays with it.
  1. The Trans-Miss is on the way back:
    Likewise, the Trans-Miss Amateur is doing all the right things to become a factor in the amateur game once again. But that crowded calendar …  is hard to overcome.
  1. No clarity for Walker Cup selectors:
    As usual, the makeup of the Walker Cup team will depend on who turns pro and who doesn’t after the NCAA’s next June. This summer provided little guidance for the USGA Walker Cup evaluators. Beyond Uihlein, Chung, and Scott Langley, it is wide open. That said, the talent pool is getting deeper each year. Here’s hoping next year’s crop of team contenders follow the lead of teen idol Rickie Fowler and stick around to play for Captain Jim Holtgrieve. It is a golf experience not to be missed. Turning pro in the summer doesn’t provide much advantage at all.
  1. Next on the tee, Gavin Hall:
    That line you see outside this 15-year-old’s home consists of every top college coach in the nation. Hall, a lefty from Pittsford, N.Y., shot 62 at the U.S. Junior, threatened to win the Porter Cup, qualified for the U.S. Amateur, played in a PGA Tour event, and posted an 18-shot win in Rochester’s most important amateur event.
  1. Read your rule sheet – always:
    No further explanation required. 


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