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The R&A makes a first-of-its-kind pick for captain of its next Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team

February 15, 2024
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Dean Robertson, seen caddieing for his former college player, Louise Duncan, atthe 2022 AIG Women's Open, has been named captain of the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team that will compete at Cypress Point in 2025.

David Cannon

In a break from long-standing tradition at the Walker Cup, former Italian Open champion Dean Robertson has been named captain of the Great Britain & Ireland team that will take on the United States in September 2025 at Cypress Point for the 50th version of the biennial contest. Although reinstated amateur Jim Holtgrieve led the U.S. teams of 2011 and 2013, Robertson, currently “high performance golf coach” at the University of Stirling in Scotland, is the first professional golfer to take charge of the Old World squad since the inception of the matches in 1922.

Robertson will begin his two-year term in the role by captaining GB&I against the Continent of Europe in the St. Andrews Trophy at Royal Porthcawl in July. That said, the 53-year-old is not new to either the Walker Cup or leading teams in trans-Atlantic competition. A player in the 1993 matches at Interlachen—from which he emerged with one point (a singles victory over Jay Sigel) in three matches—the former Scottish Amateur champion acted as head coach of the 2009 European Arnold Palmer Cup team. Seven years later he returned as Assistant Head Coach when Europe defeated the U.S. with a team that included subsequent tour pros Sam Horsfield, Adrian Meronk, Antoine Rozner and Matthias Schwab.

“To have represented GB& I in the St. Andrews Trophy and the Walker Cup was the pinnacle of my amateur career and an incredible privilege,” said Robertson, who spent time at Midland College in Texas, before embarking on a 13-year, 239 tournament career on the European Tour in which he earned €1,884,270 in prize money. “Now to have the honor of captaining Great Britain and Ireland is something I could not have imagined but it is one that I am thrilled about. I very much look forward to working closely with the players for the matches ahead with an important focus on being well prepared and playing to win.”

The R&A’s decision to have a professional oversee the GB&I Walker Cup team comes less than a year after the governing body named Catriona Matthew to captain the 2024 GB&I team at the Curtis Cup. Like Robertson, Matthew was once a top amateur, having competed in three Curtis Cups before turning professional and having a standout LPGA and Ladies European Tour career (and pulling off two wins as European Solheim Cup captain in 2019 and 2021).

Victory is something Robertson tasted regularly in a notable amateur career that included winning the Scottish Youths Championship and the Scottish Stroke-Play Championship in addition to claiming the Scottish Amateur at Royal Dornoch in 1993. He was also part of the victorious GB&I side in the St. Andrews Trophy at Royal Cinque Ports in 1992.

As a professional, he added the Scottish PGA Championship and two appearances for Scotland in the World Cup to his lone tour win in Italy. And as coach at Stirling he has transformed what was once the ultimate amateur experience into one that can only be described as a professional operation. In 2018, Stirling became the first overseas side to win an NCAA Division I event, the Yale Intercollegiate.

“My aim is not to bring people to Stirling and train them to play on tour,” says Robertson, an engaging personality with a quick wit. “It’s about broadening horizons. It’s about developing them as individuals. It’s about giving them an amazing experience and make them as good as they can be. If they get to tour level, great. They will maybe get invites to pro events. So they can taste it and see what it’s like. Only then will I say they are ready to make the transition. Far too many turn pro and have no idea what they are getting into.”

The same, as things have turned out, might be said of Robertson himself.