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Thursday
Mar162017

Latest Walker Cup Selection Idea Could Be Problematic For U.S.

There have been several stories over the years critical of the USGA for its top secret Walker Cup team selection process. And as Jim Nugent points out at Global Golf Post, what should be a great honor worth postponing a pro career for may become more complicated with the full team not becoming set until August's U.S. Amateur.

In recent years the first five spots on the squad were set well before the amateur, convincing top players to postpone the move to pro golf. Now all must wait until after the Amateur. All of the selection work is done in secret with no public points list. Ryan Lavner covered all of this quite thoroughly in 2015, particularly the absurdity of the secrecy approach.

Given the lack of major star power retaining amateur status once the college season ends, the once-in-a-lifetime Walker Cup opportunity should make some think twice before turning pro--especially when bundled with the chance to win a U.S. Amateur. As the latter event has begun to lose relevance with so many top amateurs turning pro immediately following the June NCAA's, the U.S. team walloped last time may set itself up for another rough go this year should the secretive, mysterious system scare off even just one or two potential team members.

The 2017 Walker Cup will be played September 9-10 at Los Angeles Country Club.

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Reader Comments (25)

Whichever side gets their players playing their best at the event will win. Altering the selection criteria in an effort to suit that makes sense. Selecting players after NCAA's would be ludicrous.
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJS
Screw transparency; it just encourages unhealthy debate over the weighting of tournaments, quality of fields, whether a single win is better or worse than two top fives, player character, and other unanswerables. No reason to change. If some would rather turn pro than play in the Amateur or Walker Cup, so be it. We'll still have plenty of deserving players to choose from.
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterKent Frandsen
In what way has the US Amateur begun to lose relevance? I don't understand where this is coming from.
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMatt
Matt,
Elite players not waiting to play it, instead turning pro. Television ratings almost non-existent too. From a pure perception point of view, the NCAA's seem to get more attention from fans, players and media.
03.16.2017 | Registered CommenterGeoff
Pick deserving long time Amateurs. Return the WC to what it once was, not a trophy for college kids who already have $M's guaranteed contracts, are selected, then "turn" the next day.
I'll bite too Geoff. Which elite amateurs have "not wanted to play it" and turned pro before trying to win the U. S. Amateur? A quick glance showed all 10 of the top 10 in the WAGR played last year at Oakland Hills and my guess is the same was probably true of the next (you pick the number). No doubt Golf Channel has done it's best to overhype the NCAA championships and the event has recently provided some compelling action. But to suggest winning an NCAA individual title is more important than a Havemeyer trophy is ludicrous. I Wouldn't be surprised to learn that more guys do turn pro AFTER the Am and BEFORE the Walker Cup and I'll concede your ratings point. But I'd put the brakes on declaring anything other than the United States Amateur Championship the world's most important men's amateur golf competition.
+2 for Truth in Advertising.

Geoff - do you have some axe to grind with the USGA?

The Walker Cup selection is not based only on "points".
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPlay It Forward
Truth,

I'm sorry you misunderstand, but the Havemeyer is still a huge win, amazing accomplishment, etc... but compared to the riches of pro golf, it's paling and not keeping players on the fence around. Yes, you can say the top 10 every year are playing but players who have turned pro are no longer ranked, so that argument seems odd. Beau Hossler was a top player last year and turned pro after the NCAA even after suffering injury. The allure of returning another year to have a shot at the Havemeyer was probably not on his mind, and he's a big time USGA fan.

Play it Forward,
I do have an ax to grind on the super secret process. I'm well aware that team room conformity is part of the process, and I get that. But by not having a public points list based on achievement, the perception is terrible. And as Nugent's piece points out, could deter people from staying around as amateurs if they aren't sure they either (A) could make the team on merit or (B) are worried they didn't prove team room friendly to whoever the judges of that are.
03.16.2017 | Registered CommenterGeoff
Colt Knost declined a Masters invite so as to not delay turning pro. Why? Cash.

This horse has bolted to corral and he ain't coming back, points list or otherwise. The money is just too big now.
Ask Luke List and John Peterson if they need a points list.
03.16.2017 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
In 2021, Seminole will host in May before NCAAs, followed by Car-Nasty in '23
03.16.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPG
A rigid point system, inherently arbitrary, paints selectors into a corner. Reality is, there are factors other than playing ability. Leave it at that. Personally, I'd rather have American golf represented by a majority long time, dedicated Amateurs, than a bunch of pre-pros whose pockets are already stuffed with guaranteed, sponsorship money. The Walker Cup is too important to simply be another stepping stone to fame and fortunes.
Geoff,

Thanks for the response and congrats on the news about your site. I was simply referring to your statement, "As the latter event has begun to lose relevance with so many top amateurs..." I'll keep an eye on the WAGR and see which of the ones at the top disappear because they "turn pro" right after the NCAA's this year.
As for Hossler, you're absolutely correct there was no way he was going to play as an amateur for another full year just to lose in the round of 16 at the U.S. Am. But that says more about him than the event.
Truth Will Set You Free-

FYI Colt Knost did indeed turn pro "declining" his Augusta invite to play The Masters Tournament as an amateur but he did so AFTER winning the U.S. Am AND going 2-0-2 on that year's victorious U.S. Walker Cup team. His decision to turn pro has nothing to do with Geoff's reasoning. In fact, it contradicts it.
Use a public points system and take the top 10. If someone doesn't want to play or turns pro, take No. 11.
Team room conformity? These guys are together for less than a week. They can figure out alternate shot in a couple of practice holes. Eliminate the rah-rah team malarkey and just play golf.
03.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGolden Bell
Points system would be impossible to manage. Exponentially more moving parts than the top two professional tours.
03.18.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJS
Repeat: A rigid point system paints selectors into a corner. There are times when a few should not represent the US or the game. It's fortunate that Colin Kaepernick is not an elite golfer, for example.
What's more important: Picking the best players to play or picking the best people to show up at a cocktail party?
03.18.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGolden Bell
Walker Cup is about amateur golf. Ask all those young pre-pros/Walker Cuppers how much they have in guaranteed endorsements. Know of one who had $4-5 M. Sham.
"A rigid point system paints selectors into a corner. There are times when a few should not represent the US or the game. "

So I'm assuming you're talking about John Peterson and it's a point well taken but complete BS when you look back a few years earlier and note that Dustin Johnson, who was involved in quite serious criminal charges as a youth, somehow had the game for the USGA leadership to look the other way.
03.18.2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarter
@Ghost of Frank, extremely on point point re: Kaepernick. BOOM, mic dropped...
03.18.2017 | Unregistered CommenterHero
Carter: There are enough solid citizens--Mid-Ams and older--who would well represent the USA. The US team does not require college youth a day away from pro golf, with their pockets already lined with guaranteed endorsements. As for commitment to winning, the US team isn't dominant anyway. TV ratings are negligible. Send real amateurs.
As for DJ, that's news to here. Can guarantee others have been by-passed for a variety of reasons.

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