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The marriage seemed inevitable. It had to happen. But when?

Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach is widely considered one of the world’s best and most scenic courses.

It was built by Donald Ross along the Atlantic Ocean in 1929, considered the winter home of legend Ben Hogan and oozes with tradition from well-heeled members who don’t just play the game, they adore it.
Getting on the course is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The Walker Cup Match has been around just shy of a century and its participants include a “who’s who” of golf. It’s often referred to as the amateur version of the Ryder Cup, with the U.S. team taking on a squad from Great Britain and Ireland.

Playing in the Walker Cup is usually a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

No club in America has deeper roots to the Walker Cup than Seminole – an astounding 11 members have played in it and nine others have served as captains.

Furthermore, Seminole is known for one thing more than its lightning-quick greens and drop-dead-gorgeous views: Privacy. Until last year’s charity match involving Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler – all former Walker Cuppers – and Matthew Wolff, no tournament from Seminole ever had been televised.

No club in America has deeper roots to the Walker Cup than Seminole – an astounding 11 members have played in it and nine others have served as captains.

The marriage had to happen, club president Jimmy Dunne, finally decided. The club and the USGA/R&A struck a deal in 2013. The players will proceed to golf’s altar May 8-9 to stage the 49th Walker Cup matches.

“Seminole has been a treasure in American golf,” said Dunne, Seminole’s president since 2012. “I felt we should be more open about it. I’m not sure everybody would agree with that. That’s not what’s important.

“What’s important is we are doing something for amateur golf and for our country. That’s our responsibility.”

Golf fans have been salivating for this moment since the announcement. NBC Sports will be sending its top announcing team of Dan Hicks and analyst Paul Azinger for the telecast.

“I absolutely can’t wait,” Hicks said.

Talk about a made-for golf TV moment. The USGA was so eager to have a Walker Cup staged at Seminole that it didn’t hesitate to move the matches four months earlier than its traditional September date every other year.

Not only will organizers not have to worry about hurricanes in September, Seminole is at its best in May, when the greens become as hard as I-95 and the winds constantly blow off the ocean.

Seminole No. 3

Most golfers keep track of greens hit in regulation. At Seminole, another verb is used: greens visited in regulation.

“I can’t tell you how excited the members are to host it,” said Bob Ford, Seminole’s iconic PGA Head Professional. “They want the world to see Seminole in all of its glory.

“At the charity match last year (in August), we had 4 inches of rain the night before and had little wind that day. In May, Seminole should play at its finest. We think it’s the perfect time to host this event.”

Hosting the Walker Cup is such a milestone for Seminole, Ford is using the moment to end his brilliant career as head professional at Seminole and Oakmont Country Club. Ford, who won the USGA’s Bob Jones Award in 2017 for his contributions to the game, officially retires June 1 and will become an honorary member.

Seminole member Nathaniel Crosby Jr. was set to pass on serving as Walker Cup captain after leading the 2019 U.S. squad to a comeback victory over GB&I at Royal Liverpool. But when Crosby, the son of entertainer Bing Crosby, thought about the prospect of being captain at his home course, how could he say no?

“The last Match was so surrealistic, such an amazing moment, I almost thought about passing the torch,” said Crosby, who won the 1981 U.S. Amateur when he attended the University of Miami. “It was such a perfect experience, I figured anything else would be anticlimactic.”

But with Crosby’s history at Seminole – he played his first round at the club with his father in 1976 and two years later played four consecutive days with Hogan – he knew he couldn’t say no.

“Seminole has been unbelievable to me,” said Crosby, who first became a member in 1982. “There’s 40 years of credibility. My best advice to them would be how important it is to win this event.

“I’m so grateful for the USGA to give me this opportunity again. It’s been the absolute thrill of a lifetime to be a part of so many young players, many of whom about to enter prosperous careers (on the PGA Tour). Playing in the Walker Cup is a once-in-a-lifetime event, but winning it is something you will remember for the rest of your life.”

Tyler Strafaci will represent the United States as a member of the 2021 Walker Cup Team

Among the Americans to make the 10-member team are reigning U.S. Amateur champion Tyler Strafaci of Davie and star-in-making Cole Hammer of Texas. Strafaci, a senior at Georgia Tech, won the U.S. Amateur at Bandon Dunes last August, so he has had ample time to visit Seminole and prepare for the matches.

Hammer hasn’t played Seminole as much, but he won the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball (with Stuart’s Garrett Barber) in 2018 just up the road at Jupiter Hills Club and also won the South Beach International Amateur last December to end a two-year winless streak.

More importantly, Hammer was a member of the victorious American team at the 2019 Walker Cup that overcame a 7-5 deficit after the first day to win 15½ -10½. Hammer, a junior at Texas, will someday be making millions of dollars on the PGA Tour, but he’s been looking forward to playing at Seminole since he celebrated with his team at Royal Liverpool.

“The Walker Cup is the pinnacle of amateur golf,” Hammer said. “Every American strives to be a part of it at the start of the season. The team camaraderie doesn’t exist in golf. Representing your country on the biggest stage is not something you take lightly.”

And when that stage is Seminole?

“It’s one of the most unique places I have ever been,” Hammer said. “It’s like basically a new golf course every day with the way the wind changes. You don’t get to play golf like that. And it’s obviously one of the best golf courses in the world.”

The marriage finally happened. Salute!

3 Comments

  1. Richard M. Block on

    I’m an 85-year-old former Marine Corps jet fighter pilot and a very serious volunteer including 12 years as an EMT and the 2021 Honda Classic, which was my 93rd tournament as a golf volunteer (men’s, ladies and seniors including the U.S. Open, the PGA and Seniors Championships.) If you permit golf carts on your course, I would be honored to be a “riding” walking scorer for the 2021 Walker Cup.

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