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Debating The Walker Cup Mid-Amateur Quota

Ron Balicki looks at the new mid-amateur quota for the U.S. Walker Cup team. Just the use of the word quota should give free marketeers reason to pause, but if that doesn't, then Rickie Fowler's criticism might.

“Actually, I’m really surprised they made this adjustment,” Fowler said. “I definitely feel like a deserving young player could get left out. I always thought the Walker Cup is meant to be the best amateurs from the U.S. against the best amateurs from GB&I. There shouldn’t be an age requirement or certain number of mid-ams that have to be on the team.”

That said, Fowler added, “If the two mid-ams are guys who have played on Walker Cups, then, yes, it could be very helpful to the team. But if you take a mid-am who is playing in his first Walker Cup, it would be the same as taking a kid right out of high school (who is) rearing to play.”

Balicki quotes several prominent mid-amateurs who praise the decision and also addresses the notion of whether sportsmanship has been placed above winning, something USGA Championship committee chair Tom O'Toole acknowledges is secondary to the spirit of the matches as established by George Herbert Walker.

Golfweek's Sean Martin, who covers amateur golf and the Walker Cup pursuit, tweeted that this "ridiculous" decision cheapens the Walker Cup. And regarding the mid-ams eligible for this year:

The race for Walker Cup spots is too tight to designate two in January. Not another deserving mid-am after Nathan Smith.

Not surprisingly Global Golf Post, which is sent to USGA members and therefore had the story in its Monday edition before the press release went public, went the house organ route in its lede:

"In a surprising move that will be well received throughout the U.S. amateur golf community."

And John Peterson, infamously snubbed the last time the Cup was played, Tweeted this:

World Class Amateurs- Turn Pro and make money, or spend all of it trying to make the Walker Cup just to leave it to politics. #StillHurts

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Reader Comments (28)

99.99% of mid-am players with jobs cannot compete with top college players, but quotas are not the answer. The best players should make the team----- period. Politics always are a factor in subjective decisions such as this this, it is a game that you have to play if you are on the bubble.
No Longer, college kids are just that. Over stroke play you are correct but match play is way different. I like Fowler but whats wrong with spreading the wealth a little and forcing the young guns to gun harder if they want to play in the Walker? Teaching our youth to earn something meaningful used to actually mean something. Lord (Byron) knows our Ryder team needs a push!
01.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
If Rickie Fowler is clever enough to go to a good college how does he not know that the word "raring" is what he is looking for; not "rearing".

Also, why wouldn't the journo correct it when writing the quote?
01.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStiggy
It seems that this should have been a joint decision, yet the R & A has not commented. Both sides need to agree.
01.17.2013 | Unregistered Commentergolf fan
It's all about quotas.
We have quotas for everything from sex to color to religion.
Why can't we just accept things as they should be?
01.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStanley Thompson
"Why can't we just accept things as they should be?"

OK: "Full-time Division I golfers are amateurs only if the meaning of the term is stretched quite a bit beyond recognition?"
01.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Oh no, the ninth and 10th best young amateurs might have to sit it out. Remind me, how did the previous system work out in 2011?
01.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterWritten off

Agreed but where do you stop?
eg There are virtually no "amateurs" competing in the Olympics. A true amateur has no chance.
01.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStanley Thompson
I'm with KLG on this one. By all means let's pick the best team of amateurs but let's re-examine amateur status. These young college studs and even many juniors are being afforded luxuries that completely make a sham of their amateur status. The Walker Cup was instigated with the true amateur in mind - the guy/gal who works for a living and golf is a passion/hobby.
01.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlan O'Regan
I agree wholeheartedly with Alan.
01.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRon Fortson
Stanley: I don't know the answer to that one. And I think you and S&T are right. But I also stopped paying much attention to the Olympics when the professionals took over. Usain Bolt and Michael Johnson and Michael Phelps are all great athletes, but they are not necessarily better than the athletes who had to get a job at the age of 21-22-23 back in the day, or play as professionals somewhere...which meant only basketball players for the most part.

@Alan: There was a time when golf scholarships and attendant benefits were viewed as inconsistent with "amateur status" by the USGA. Before my time, but I have read about it. Maybe they'll address that after they finish with the putter and get to the domesticated Pinnacle and the well-trained TopFlite.
01.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Are they going to rename it?

Mid-Walker Cup...Walker Mid-Cup...Walker Cup/Mid-Am...Walker Cup - 2 + 2...?

Will there be three two divisions in the future, regular, mid-am and Super Senior group?

Bad idea.
01.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Having been a college player and for awhile an elite mid-Am, I am fine with this change for a couple of reasons. I don't think saying college players aren't amateurs is the answer, for a host of reasons, even if high end golf programs now give the players more perks than I would have thought permissible under NCAA or USGA rules. Yes, guys with jobs aren't going to be as good as the college players. That said, there's a fair number of elite mid-ams whose job is "NFL Quarterback" or "Driving Range Owner" or "Titleist Sales Rep" or "Semi-retired rich guy" who are going to have a better chance to practice and compete than the doctor, lawyer, pilot. Them the breaks. (FWIW, I stopped competing regularly when my career (lawyer) made it impossible to compete consistently with the top guys in the state, all of whom had a sales or golf job. Sure I had my weeks, but it was too erratic, which made it less fulfilling, so I pulled it back.)

With that context, having the quota makes total sense. The guys who play golf for the love of the competition and who have no interest in turning pro is what being an amateur was, and could be. One less college player might make the U.S. team slightly less competitive, but so what. It's a friendly international rivalry which should be celebrated for the spirit of the competition, not just winning. Idealistic? Maybe. Sue me. (Ha-ha. No, don't.)

Semi-related: the one change I would make to the amateur status rules is some sort of death penalty. If you tried to be a touring professional and failed, sorry, not letting you back in. If you won a car with a hole in one or did something stupid, but inadvertent, then maybe.
01.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe O
So does Nathan Smith count as a pro or an amateur if he is playing golf as a function of his non-golf job? He's being payed to play golf with clients and travel around the Amateur golf circuit. I am more confused about this and college golfers and olympians now than the friggin anchoring ban!
01.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
Is the Walker Cup all about winning? Of course you want to win for your country(s), but it is an exhibition meant to build relationships, comraderie and mutual respect from players from the two squads. I think the addition of mid-ams brings a greater sense of amateur golf to the event. In fact, I'd vote for each squad having 2 mid-am's and 2 senior ams (over 55) as part of it. After all it is an exhibition of amateur golf between the two sides..and what better exhibition than to have golfers from different "levels" be part of the competition (yes an exhibition can still be a comptition). I wish we could get away from the "winning is everything" mentality most people seem to have these days. I think it would be an interesting twist to put up a team of the best amatuer, mid-amatuer, and senior amateur players from each side as it gives to total picture of the game of golf on both sides of the pond. Having a team of all college kids is essentially putting them in an environment they are used to all the time (people their own age)...having a team made up of multiple generations of players would be awesome for the interaction between the different groups. I'm guessing there are things that the "young" guys could learn from the "old" guys and vice versa...and not just concerning golf, but life. Imagine a young college player having the chance to spend some time with someone who was probably simiilar to them at their age, but didn't go (or make it) into professional golf. It could give them a new perspective on what they do the rest of their lives.
01.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
Hey Stiggy, Mr. Grammar Police! rearing is such word as "raring"...that's why the journalist didn't correct it!!
01.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterFW

From the Webster's Dictionary

Definition of RARING
: full of enthusiasm or eagerness <ready and raring to go

It didnt have Rearing but had this instead

Definition of REAR
transitive verb
1: to erect by building : construct
2: to raise upright
3a (1) : to breed and raise (an animal) for use or market (2) : to bring to maturity or self-sufficiency usually through nurturing care <reared five children> <birds rearing their young> b : to cause (as plants) to grow
4: to cause (a horse) to rise up on the hind legs

Thank you.
01.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStiggy

Have a gander at this. Found it in Google under expressions......Do you have a pipe?

I found a dictionary this morning which tells me that to rare is an English dialect form of to rear and dates from as recently as 1909. This suggests that rearing to go is as, if not more, correct than raring to go. I have an image of a horse rearing on its hind legs to get a spring into its step, almost performing the action which the French describe as se reculer pour mieux sauter. So I stuffed that in my pedant's pipe and am smoking it.
01.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStanley Thompson
Stanley, funny.

When I google "Rearing to go" it askes me "did you mean Raring to Go"

No matter.
01.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStiggy
highly doubt the Dallas Cowboys QB could be called an elite-am--The O , not sure if you are saying that or not.
Ok, so we're cutting down the number of spots for college players from 10 to 8.

This makes the Captain's job of convincing guys to stay amateur though the summer even harder. Last time around 5-6 guys went pro early rather than wait to see if they make the team. How many more do so now that there are fewer chances?

and which mid am wants to be the guy who gets his spot because of his age, when there are 4-5 college kids who had a better summer than he had. I know the sport coat is the same shade of green as the other 8, but what does that guy say to himself--"yeah, i got beat in the first round of the am by [insert name here], and he made the semis, but i made the team anyway"?
01.17.2013 | Unregistered Commentersmails
A mid-am gets into the Masters every year, ahead of arguably better young players. Nathan Smith has never made the cut there. But nobody is up in arms over that.
01.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterWritten off
Nobody expects any of the amateurs to win the Masters. We're lucky if one or two make the cut. All six are there to celebrate amateur golf. In a 90 man field, that creates some storylines.

when there are 8 matches a day, creating a "mid-am division" may cheapen the event.

I'd rather play to win.
01.17.2013 | Unregistered Commentersmails
Anybody that know the top 10 Mid-Ams in the country knows that they too are professional amateurs. Sure, they have bills to pay and offices to go into in the morning, but they are playing a full-time schedule and practicing more than most would imagine. I always like when a Mid-Am is on the Walker Cup team, but not at the expense of someone that deserves it more based on their playing record.
01.17.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
Well, ol Harv, you got a point there. I have run into two of those, both of whom have played in the Masters, and one who admitted that his daddy was footing the bill when he was well into his mid-30s. We are about the same age. Wonder what he is doing for a living as a late middle-aged +1? Probably sitting in the Men's Grill talking to no one in particular about that high, soft 5-wood to 6 feet that got him the eagle on the third hole last Sunday. I suppose it's all just a bit complicated. Kind of like the anchored putter. ;-)
01.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
KLG, Was he from GA and did he aim 30 yards right of his target? Friend of mine, really good am, played with him in a practice round at a member guest and they made a bet after he saw the guys set-up. After he birdied 3 holes in a row he told my friend that he had won 2 US Mid-Ams.
01.17.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
Danny Green is from TN. and he only won one Mid Am.
01.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSun Mountain Man
Umm hmm...
01.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG

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