BACK down in my country seat the other week – and by that I mean my dear Mam’s delightful terraced house not some vast, baronial pile plonked amid a sprawling acreage of roaming stags and moss-covered follies – my senses were stirred by reports in the parish pump from a variety of local agricultural shows that always take place at this time of the season.

Forget the cut-and-thrust of the Walker Cup – and after GB&I’s 19-7 defeat, we may want to forget that one as quickly as possible – the teeth-clenching competitiveness of these rural showpieces would make team golf look about as tense as a meditating monk in a hot tub.

A nip-and-tuck battle for the Elsie McCorkindale Perpetual Cup in the curds and jams section? Nail-nibbling judges swithering over the merits of Wull Petrie’s blanched leeks in the vegetable class? A shock winner emerging in the tussle for the most ornate, hand-carved nibbie? It was all action.

Unfortunately for the lads of that aforementioned GB&I side, there were no prizes handed out in Los Angeles as they suffered the heaviest Walker Cup defeat since an 18-6 trouncing 20 years ago.

It may have been something of a ravaging for the visitors, but losing was hardly a surprise. In the last 13 meetings between the sides, after all, the home team has won 11 times.

It’s a pretty straightforward series of factors, of course. The USA often struggle with the vagaries and bamboozling weather of the links game when they are over here. GB&I, on the other hand, tend to struggle with the change to American greens which at times can be ridiculously quick and would resemble putting on the back of a soup spoon.

In the aftermath of a walloping, it’s easy to revert back to the school of thought which suggests expanding the Walker Cup to the wider continent of Europe from which a greater pool of players can be plucked.

Then again, the last 10 meetings between the US and GB&I have spawned an even split of five wins apiece and, on the current world amateur rankings dominated by Americans, there are the same number of continental Europeans – three – as there are GB&I players in the top 20.

At the same time, though, opening up the contest to include a combined European fleet could help the biennial contest’s profile and bolster the appeal of this highly cherished transatlantic tussle. It may even aid the Brexit negotiations?

All 10 of GB&I’s players in LA were Walker Cup debutants and, more than likely, none of them will be in the amateur ranks when the sides meet again at Hoylake in 2019.

Long gone are the days when decorated career amateurs like Joe Carr (11 Cup appearances), Michael Bonallack (nine) or the celebrated Scot, Charlie Green (seven), formed the backbone and provided continuity to many a side down the years.

The fevered turnover of players from the amateur to the professional game clatters on and many of the current crop will be looking to take that plunge soon.

Defeat in the Walker Cup will be a sore one to stomach, but there will be far bigger concerns should they delve into the cut-throat world of the paid game. There is no divine right to success and moving from the pinnacle of amateur golf to putting for pounds, euros and dollars remains a transition fraught with difficulties, disappointments and demoralising dunts.

The GB&I side of 2011, for example, beat a USA force featuring a certain Jordan Spieth but, with the exception of Andy Sullivan, the majority of those highly rated members of that triumphant team, including the Scottish duo of James Byrne and Michael Stewart, continue to chisel away in the modest margins of the professional game. It’s a familiar tale.

At least the GB&I boys can take heart from one recent Walker Cupper who suffered a heavy reversal. Matthew Fitzpatrick was in the side which lost 17-9 in the US back in 2013. On Sunday, the 23-year-old won the fourth European Tour title of his blossoming career.

Fitzpatrick has found a professional path paved with gold. For many others, though, life after the Walker Cup can take them down a road to nowhere.


It may not have the same profile as some of golf’s more lauded team contests but the PGA Cup, which pits the club professionals of GB&I and the USA together, has been galvanised in recent years.

In 2013, GB&I mounted a rousing resurgence on the final day to claim a 13-13 draw and breathe new life into the event. Two years ago in California, they went one better and won for the first time on American soil in a compelling duel that went down to the final hole of the final match.

The USA currently hold the Ryder Cup, the Solheim Cup and now the Walker Cup. Good luck to Scottish captain Albert MacKenzie and his GB&I troops this week in Surrey as they look to stem the tide.