The R&A normally announce their Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) team after the U.S. Amateur Championship in August around two weeks before the match in early September.
In the prior December or January an initial squad of 15-20 players is announced which formalises the leading candidates. Most of the team will come from this squad but there is always the opportunity for others to play their way into the squad and ultimately the team based on their results during the season.
For the 2023 match The R&A publically stated that they would select: –
– The current Amateur Champion (if eligible);
– The top two GB&I players in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) on Wednesday 16th August 2023*; and
– seven or eight players selected by their Selection Committee.
*Should The Amateur Champion occupy one of the guaranteed WAGR positions or any of the leading two WAGR players are unavailable the place(s) will not transfer to the next ranked GB&I player.
There is no reason to suggest that the above selection policy will change albeit my understanding is The R&A would like more players to be selected based on the WAGR. This would be a mistake as the ranking still has a number of flaws and does not always accurately list our best players.
GB&I eligibility is based on being eligible to play for one of the Home Nations.
The 2023 GB&I Selection Committee comprised Pádraig HOGAN (Chairman / Ireland), Stuart WILSON (Captain / Scotland), Nigel EDWARDS (England) and Carl ROWE (Wales).
In 2023 four players from Ireland, three from England, two from Scotland and one from Wales were selected: –
James ASHFIELD – Wales, Delamere Forest, 22
Jack BIGHAM – England, Harpenden, 19
Barclay BROWN* – England, Hallamshire, 22
John GOUGH* – England, The Berkshire, 24
Connor GRAHAM~ – Scotland, Blairgowrie, 16
Alex MAGUIRE – Ireland, Laytown & Bettystown, 22
Matthew MCCLEAN – Ireland, Malone, 30
Liam NOLAN – Ireland, Galway, 23
Mark POWER – Ireland, Kilkenny, 23
Calum SCOTT – Scotland, Nairn, 20
Two reserves were also announced by the selection committee: –
Tyler WEAVER – England, Bury St Edmonds, 18
Caolan RAFFERTY – Ireland, Dundalk, 30
GB&I Selection Notes
In May 2023 three-time GB&I captain Nigel Edwards gave an interview to Matt Cooper for Global Golf Post discussing his thoughts on the selection process.
“When you’re picking a team I would say that 90% of the time eight of the ten pick themselves.”
“It’s a huge week (for the players) and unlike anything they’ve ever dealt with because very few golfers play more than one Walker Cup these days. There’s a long lead-in culminating in an opening ceremony, the television cameras are watching, and also the simple fact that the match is almost always the culmination of the amateur career adds more pressure. That combination makes it inevitable that not everyone will play their best golf, so I wanted characters who could overcome that – golfers with a good attitude that made them competitors.”
Then there’s the question of performing under pressure. Short game and putting – if you’re on the last, can you hole out? Are you doing it consistently? Down the stretch, can you keep the ball in play? The Old Course is wide open, but 16 and 17 aren’t, and they will be pivotal holes.”
“My message to the players was always, ‘Let’s put them under pressure, because no one performs at their best under pressure’. People get nervous and we want to be the ones who deal with that. It’s a great challenge. Accept it and thrive on it. The Americans will be very buoyant, so show them you’re up for the challenge. You need to be in the mindset of prepare better, play better, hole out better, compete hard and be positive.”
GB&I Selection History
British golf before World War II was largely the preserve of the upper class and therefore GB&I’s early teams were frequently selected from Oxford and Cambridge Universities and the most prestigious golf clubs.
There were few amateur competitions to assist selectors in the early years too.
In this age of true amateurism funds were limited for both The R&A and many of the players. Indeed some players were forced to turn down selection invitations due to an inability to extract themselves from their day jobs.
A combination of being known to a selector and an ability to assist with the funding of the trip was a distinct advantage for a leading player up until the 1950s.
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