John Huggan celebrates the beauty of team golf. Well, except for the ugly American antics he witnessed at the Walker Cup.
For example, two days at Newcastle told me everything I will ever need - or want - to know about the current US Amateur champion, Colt Knost. A highly talented golfer, one who already looks good enough to make the perennially hazardous transition into the professional ranks, Knost is, on the evidence of this Walker Cup, an arrogant and boorish so-and-so.And on the beauty of team events...
His reaction to not winning his singles match on the second day, when his opponent, Daniel Willett, holed a 20-foot putt on the final green to clinch at least a half point (Knost followed him in from perhaps a yard) was disappointing to say the least. After 'treating' Willett to one of those limp-wristed, no eye contact handshakes one always hates to see at the end of any match, Knost strutted around the putting surface for an unhealthy length of time shaking his head and staring up at the heavens. The implication was clear: How dare this obviously less gifted chopper make such an outrageous putt and deprive me of my pre-ordained victory? For Knost, his match was clearly all about himself and not about what he could do to help his teammates. Let's hope, given time, that this spoiled young man will mature to the point where his character matches his ability.
All of which - the good and the bad - is part of the inherent attraction of team golf. Win, lose or draw, we are treated to an intimate glimpse into the souls of those participating. Which is also, of course, one of the great things about match play. In a head-to-head contest it isn't possible to coast along, finish tied for sixth and pick up a nice cheque. Oh no. In match play there are winners and losers. And no one likes to be a loser. Or admit to being a loser. Somehow it's easier to start a post-mortem with, 'I came fourth' rather than, 'I lost.'
The best news is that, over the course of this month, we are going to be treated to a host of to-class team matches. This week I'm popping down to Dunbar to watch the ladies Home International matches, where the cream of the British Isles' female amateurs will be on display.
Then there is the Solheim Cup in Sweden, where Europe and the US will be going perm-to-perm in the ladies equivalent of the Ryder Cup. And less than two weeks after that, the Americans will be taking on the International squad in the Presidents Cup while, across the water, Great Britain & Ireland's professionals will be facing up to their mates from the continent of Europe for the Seve Trophy.
Okay, the Seve Trophy? In that group? Uh no.