In a surprising move that will be well received throughout the American amateur golf community, the USGA has decided that at least two mid-amateurs will be selected for the 2013 Walker Cup team. It is anticipated that this policy will continue for the foreseeable future.
“In proposing the Walker Cup in 1921, George Herbert Walker’s original intent was to have a competition that fostered international goodwill between the USGA and The R&A,” USGA vice president and Championship Committee Chairman Thomas J. O’Toole Jr. said.
“Mid-amateurs, who are seasoned players, are likely to bring a unique perspective to a team and demonstrate, as well as appreciate, the characteristics of leadership and generosity of spirit that are central to the Walker Cup. It is the positive influence mid-amateurs will have on the Walker Cup experience and our strong commitment to amateur golf that causes us to reach this determination.”
O’Toole told The Post that the issue of mid-am participation had been under discussion for several years, and that it moved to the forefront when Mike Davis became executive director of the USGA.
“We want to show our support for the amateur game and the people who play it,” he said.
O’Toole said that this new policy has been discussed with the R&A. A spokesman for the R&A said it has no current plans to implement a similar policy.
The USGA decided to make this announcement now so as to allow elite mid-amateurs the time necessary to plan and prepare for competition this year.
Two mid-amateurs were invited to the Walker Cup practice session that took place in Florida before Christmas. Three-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Nathan Smith, who has played in two Walker Cup matches, was invited, as was Todd White, a high school teacher in South Carolina with an impressive USGA record for a mid-amateur. Several other mid-amateurs are certain to be considered.
“I applaud the decision made by the USGA to include mid-amateurs in the Walker Cup,” said U.S. captain Jim Holtgrieve, who played in three Walker Cups and was captain of the 2011 USA Team. “I have seen firsthand, like other past captains, the impact the mid-amateur player can have on a team. Mid-amateurs can provide the leadership and maturity that helps build team chemistry.”
The 44th Walker Cup Match returns to National Golf Links of America for the first time since it hosted the first playing of the biennial competition in 1922. The USA leads the overall series, 34-8-1 and has not lost on American soil since the 2001 Match at Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, Ga.