Notebook: U.S. dresses sharp in Walker Cup practice
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y.—In his second go-around as captain of the U.S. team, Jim Holtgrieve has made it a mission to bring the Walker Cup closer to its roots. His actions included a nod Friday to the historic first playing of the match at National GL of America in 1922 when Holtgrieve had his team outfitted in cardigan sweaters, knit ties and tartan pants more reminiscent of the dress from when the 91-year-old competition was first begun.
"I'd done my research in history and education on the first Walker Cup and looked at the pictures, particularly when you go in the library. I thought why don't we on Friday honor those guys who played in 1922," Holtgrieve said. "The guys have had a great time with it. I think they enjoyed it."
Nathan Smith, the four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and the most experienced player on the U.S. team was asked if he had ever previously played a round wearing a tie. "A couple of times," said the investment adviser from Pittsburgh, "when I run out of work real quick and don't have time to change."
Ryder Cup captains playing at home have let their voices be heard in recent years regarding how they hope courses will be set up for the competitions. That's not the case at the Walker Cup, nor is it something Holtgrieve had an real interest in at National GL of America.
"I asked them how fast the greens are going to be. They don't answer me," Holtgrieve joked. "I ask them where the hole locations are going to be. They wouldn't answer me. [But] you know I wouldn't want any input anyway. I mean that's not my role, and I don't think it should ever [be] in any team competition. Team captains putting up hole locations? Ridiculous, I think."
Similarly, Holtgrieve actually didn't have a vote on any of the 10 players on his U.S. squad that were chosen by the USGA international team selection committee—although he was in direct consultation with the group throughout the last two years. Asked if he thought the U.S. captain should have a bigger voice—more specifically an official say—in who is on his roster, Holtgrieve surprisingly didn't think so.
"It's amazing how many people don't know that we don't have a pick," Holtgrieve said. "But I don't want that. I mean I want to report and I want the committee to select. I don't think you want to get involved in picks, and I don't think the USGA is going to have us do that anyway."
Local caddies from National GL of America were selected to work for the players on both the U.S. and Great Britain & Ireland teams. On the bag for American Bobby Wyatt is Kurt Sohn, who was a wide receiver for the New York Jets from 1981-88.
Photo courtesy of the USGA