168. Sir Michael Bonallack Has Died Aged 88

26th September 2023

Sir Michael Francis Bonallack, Kt, OBE, a past Walker Cup player, captain and administrator has died aged 88.

He was born in Chigwell, Essex, England on 31st December 1934 and died on 26th September 2023 in St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland.

He represented Thorpe Hall G.C., near Southend-on-Sea in Essex, throughout his amateur career.

His list of playing achievements is unlikely to ever be matched again and he is in my opinion the best GB&I amateur golfer of all time.

He first came to prominence when he won the British Boys Championship in 1952, beating Alec Shepperson on the 37th hole of the final at Formby GC.

He went on to win the Amateur Championship five times; the last three being in successive years: –
1961 v. Jimmy Walker 6&4 at Turnberry
1965 v. Clive Clark 2&1 at Porthcawl
1968 v. Joe Carr 7&6 at Troon
1969 v. Bill Hyndman (USA) 3&2 at Hoylake
1970 v. Bill Hyndman (USA) 8&7 at Newcastle, County Down

He also won the English Amateur Championship five times (1962, ’63, ’65, ’67 and ’68) and the English Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship (Brabazon Trophy) four times (1964, ’68, ’69 (tied with Rodney Foster) and ’71).

Other notable victories came in the Lytham Trophy (1965T and ’72), Berkshire Trophy (1957, ’61, ’65, ’68, ’70, ’71T), St. George’s Grand Challenge Cup (1965, ’68, and ’81), H.R.H. Prince of Wales Challenge Cup (1967), Hampshire Hog (1957 and 1979) and the no longer contested Golf Illustrated Gold Vase (1961T, ’67T, ’68, ’69T, ’71 and ’75).

He represented GB&I in nine Walker Cup teams, two as playing Captain (in 1957, ’59, ’61, ’63, ’65, ’67, ’69,  ’71 and ’73). He played 25 individual games, more than any other GB&I player in the history of the match and is only beaten by Jay Sigel’s 33 on the USA side. His record reads won 8, lost 14 and halved 3. The highlight for Bonallack was contributing to the victorious side in 1971 where GB&I won the cup for the first time in 33 years. “I was playing captain that year when we won over the Old Course at St. Andrews, and it does not get, cannot get, any better than that,” he later recalled.

Bonallack also represented GB&I in six World Amateur Team Golf Championships, for the Eisenhower Trophy, the last three as playing Captain (1960, ’62, ’64, ’66, ’68, ’70 and ’72). In 1968 he tied for the Individual title with Vinny Giles from the USA. He also represented GB&I in biennial matches against The Rest of Europe between 1958-72.

Sir Michael represented England in the Home International Matches on 17 occasions (1957-72, ’74). He captained the team between 1962-1967. His record was played 131; won 79, halved 15 and lost 37.  He also played in the British Commonwealth Team in 1959, 1963, 1967 and 1971, captaining the team in 1971 and 1975 (non-playing).

He played in 13 Open Championships. His best finish coming in his first when he tied 11th at Muirfield. He didn’t win the Silver Medal that year but secured it in 1968 (Carnoustie – T21) and again in 1971 (Royal Birkdale – T22). He considered these results his main golfing disappointment, reflecting in later years: “I wish I had done better in The Open”.

Good friend Donald Steel, writing for Country Life in July 1983, upon Bonallack’s competitive retirement, described him as a “fierce competitor” before adding “I have never seen anyone hole more critical putts than he did or impose the same magical touch on a whole variety of wedge and bunker play.”

He married Angela Ward in 1958.  A celebrity couple of the day the announcement of their earlier engagement made the front page news of almost every daily newspaper. Angela played in six Curtis Cup teams during her own golfing career (1956, ’58, ’60, ’62, ’64 and ’66).

Michael’s younger sister Sally (Barber) was also a very accomplished player, representing GB&I in the Curtis Cup in 1962.

Michael Bonallack joined The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in 1960. Over these years he was Chairman of the Amateur Status Committee (1975-79) and of the Selection Committee (1975-79) and a Member of the Rules of Golf Committee (1979-83), the General Committee (1975-1978 and 1999-2000) and the Heritage Committee (2006-10).

At the Club’s Autumn Meeting in September 2013 he become the 16th Honorary Member of The Royal and Ancient. He had previously been made a Life Member in 1999. As such his portrait is displayed in the Big Room of The Royal and Ancient Clubhouse.

Sir Michael Bonallack’s R&A Portrait (Photo: British Golf Museum) 

After his stellar playing career Sir Michael moved smoothly into golf administration. He was appointed Secretary of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in 1983, succeeding Keith Mackenzie.

As Secretary of the R&A, Bonallack helped to guide the game into the 21st Century. “He has bridged the gap between the history and heritage and tradition of The Open Championship and golf in general as it moved into the commercial age globally and internationally and he’s done it with great taste and tact and really stands almost alone as someone who has handled that crossing.” said the late Mark McCormack, chairman of International Management Group.

He retired as Secretary in 1999 after 16 years and was immediately nominated for the captaincy of the club for the millennium 1999-2000 year. There were two themes that he sought to bring to the role during his term of office: “…maintaining behavioural standards and ensuring that amateur golf is not destroyed by over-commercialism and ridiculously large prizes”.

The Bonallack Trophy, a biennial amateur competition played between teams from Europe and Asia-Pacific, was first played in 1998. The competition named in honour of Sir Michael continues to grow in importance and has helped to raise the profile of the game, particularly in the Far East, Indian and Australasia areas.

Sir Michael held many important positions in the golfing world and over the years received numerous honours and awards. Most notably he was knighted in 1998 becoming the third ‘golfing knight’ after Sir Henry Cotton and Sir Bob Charles. Sir Nick Faldo subsequently joined this select group in 2009.

Lady Bonallack died on Friday 1st July 2022 at the age of 85. She had been in poor health for a few years and finally succumbed to the COVID-19 virus.

Clearly in poor health Sir Michael was a very welcome guest at the opening ceremony of the 49th Walker Cup match played earlier this month at St. Andrews.

Sir Michael’s was a life well lived and he leaves a legacy to the game that can only be matched by a handful of others.


Copyright © 2015-2023, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

163. The R&A Announce The 2023 GB&I Walker Cup Team

21st August 2023

The following ten golfers have been selected for the 2023 Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team for the forthcoming match at St Andrews: –

James ASHFIELD – Wales, Delamere Forest, 22 – WAGR #71
Jack BIGHAM – England, Harpenden, 19 – WAGR #88
Barclay BROWN – England, Hallamshire, 22 – WAGR #25
John GOUGH – England, The Berkshire, 24 – WAGR #11
Connor GRAHAM – Scotland, Blairgowrie, 16 – WAGR #184
Alex MAGUIRE – Ireland, Laytown & Bettystown, 22 – WAGR #149
Matthew MCCLEAN – Ireland, Malone, 30 – WAGR #52
Liam NOLAN – Ireland, Galway, 23 – WAGR #143
Mark POWER – Ireland, Kilkenny, 23 – WAGR #94
Calum SCOTT – Scotland, Nairn, 20 – WAGR #35

The team is made up of four players from Ireland, three from England, two from Scotland and one from Wales.

Connor Graham will be 16 years, 10 months and 9 days old when the 49th Walker Cup starts and will therefore become the youngest player to have ever competed in the match for either side.

Barclay Brown and Mark Power are constants throughout Stuart Wilson’s tenure as first Chairman of the GB&I Boys’ Selection Committee and subsequently GB&I Men’s Captain. Power played in his Jacques Léglise Trophy team against Europe in 2017 and 2018 whilst Brown played in the same match in 2018 and 2019. Both also played for GB&I at Seminole in the 2021 Walker Cup match and at Penati, Slovakia in the 2022 St. Andrews Trophy match.

GB&I Team (Graphic: The R&A)

Two reserves were also announced by the selection committee: –

Tyler WEAVER – England, Bury St Edmonds, 18 – WAGR #269
Caolan RAFFERTY – Ireland, Dundalk, 30 – WAGR #60

My own analysis had led me to prefer Caolan Rafferty and James Claridge over Connor Graham and Mark Power but I am confident the latter pair will in no way weaken our overall team.

My 2023 GB&I Team Selection Spreadsheet Extract

Stuart Wilson, GB&I captain, said, “We have selected ten players who we believe will give us the best chance of regaining the Walker Cup against the United States of America.

“This is their opportunity to perform on the biggest stage in amateur golf and have their name written alongside some of the greatest names in the history of the sport by winning the Walker Cup.”

“There is arguably no more iconic venue in the world to achieve that feat than on the Old Course in St Andrews. We look forward to the challenge of winning the match next week and I know these players will give it their all to win back the trophy in front of a home crowd.”

The Great Britain and Ireland Team will play USA in the 49th Walker Cup Match on 2-3 September 2023 at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland.

Here are The R&A’s GB&I captain and player biographies: –


Stuart Wilson
Wilson is captain of the GB&I team for the second consecutive Walker Cup. Twenty years ago, in the Walker Cup in 2003, he was a member of the winning GB&I team at Ganton. In 2004, he won The Amateur Championship over the Old Course at St Andrews with a 4&3 win over Lee Corfield in the Final. He went on to win the Silver Medal as the low amateur in The 133rd Open at Royal Troon later that year and compete in the 2005 Masters Tournament. In addition to leading GB&I in the Walker Cup, he also captained last year’s GB&I team when they beat the Continent of Europe in the St Andrews Trophy and captained European teams in the Junior Ryder Cup in 2012 and 2014. He is the Secretary / Manager of Blairgowrie G.C., the home club of Connor Graham.


James Ashfield
Ashfield is representing GB&I in the Walker Cup for the first time. In 2023, the member of Wales’ national team has finished runner-up in both the Lytham Trophy and European Amateur Championship in Estonia, finished tied third in the Sotogrande Cup in Spain and reached the last-64 in The Amateur Championship at Hillside. In 2022, he won the Welsh Amateur Championship, reached the last-16 in The Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes and represented Wales in the Eisenhower Trophy in France. Two years ago at Nairn, he reached the semi-finals of The Amateur.

Jack Bigham
In 2023, the member of England’s national team has recorded top-12s in both the European Amateur Championship in Estonia and St Andrews Links Trophy, represented his country in both the European Amateur Team Championships and The R&A Men’s Home Internationals and completed his first collegiate season at Florida State University. In 2021, he won the R&A Boys’ Amateur Championship at Royal Cinque Ports and reached the quarter-finals of the English Amateur at Moortown and the last-16 of The Amateur Championship at Nairn. He makes his Walker Cup debut in St Andrews.

Barclay Brown
Brown makes a second Walker Cup appearance after playing at Seminole in 2021. So far in 2023, the member of England’s national team has earned All-America honours in his senior season at Stanford University, finished tied-fourth in the NCAA Division One Individual Championship and competed in the US Open at Los Angeles Country Club. In 2022, he reached the last-64 in The Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes and after qualifying for The 150th Open at St Andrews, was tied 12th after 36 holes to make the cut. In that year, he was also a member of the winning GB&I team in the St Andrews Trophy against the Continent of Europe. Reached the quarter-finals of The Amateur Championship in 2020 and the semi-finals of The R&A Boys’ Amateur in 2019.

John Gough
Gough has been eager to make the GB&I team given his younger brother, Conor, represented GB&I at Royal Liverpool in 2019. So far in 2023, the member of England’s national team has won both the Australian Master of the Amateurs and Irish Amateur Open, finished runner-up in both the Avondale Amateur and the Sotogrande Cup, reached the last-32 in The Amateur Championship and made the cut in the DP World Tour’s Betfred British Masters. In 2022, he won both the Spanish Amateur and the Lytham Trophy, finished runner-up in the Scottish Amateur Open, reached the semi-finals of The Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes and represented England in the Eisenhower Trophy. Before his defeat to Sam Bairstow in the semi-finals of The Amateur last June, he had gone on a run of only losing one of 24 match play ties. Last year, he was also a member of the winning GB&I team in the St Andrews Trophy against the Continent of Europe.

Connor Graham
At the age of 16, Graham will become the youngest players on either team to ever compete in the Walker Cup. So far in 2023, the member of Scotland’s national team has won the Scottish Amateur Open and finished runner-up in the French Under-18 Amateur Open. In 2022, he won The R&A Junior Open at Monifieth and finished runner-up in the Lytham Trophy, tied third in the Scottish Boys’ Amateur Open and shared seventh in the St Andrews Links Trophy.

Alex Maguire
After winning the first-ever Open Amateur Series to qualify for The 151st Open at Royal Liverpool in July, Maguire has achieved another highlight. This year, the member of Ireland’s national team has also won the St Andrews Links Trophy and East of Ireland Amateur Open, reached the quarter-finals of The Amateur Championship at Hillside, finished fourth in the Irish Amateur Open and closed his senior season at Florida Atlantic University with a tie for fourth in his conference championship. In 2022, he won the East of Ireland Amateur Open and reached the semi-finals of The Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes. In 2021, he won the North of Ireland Amateur Open and reached the quarter-finals of the South of Ireland Amateur Open.

Matthew McClean
A Walker Cup debut for McClean. Last year, he won the US Mid-Amateur Championship by defeating Hugh Foley in the final at Erin Hills in Wisconsin. To date in 2023, the member of Ireland’s national team has competed in both the Masters Tournament and the US Open and recorded top-ten finishes in the South African Amateur, East of Ireland Amateur Open and Brabazon Trophy. He also reached the last-64 of the US Amateur and the semi-finals of the Western Amateur. In addition to his USGA championship title in 2022, he also finished runner-up in both the Irish Amateur Open and North of Ireland Amateur Open, reached the last-16 in The Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes and represented Ireland in the Eisenhower Trophy. In that year, he was also a member of the winning GB&I team in the St Andrews Trophy against the Continent of Europe.

Liam Nolan
Nolan makes his Walker Cup debut thanks to a fine season in which the member of Ireland’s national team has won the South American Amateur in Ecuador and Brabazon Trophy and reached the last-64 in The Amateur Championship at Hillside. In 2022, he recorded top-four finishes in the North of Ireland, South of Ireland and West of Ireland Amateur Open championships and finished in a share of tenth in the Brabazon Trophy and tied-14th in the St Andrews Links Trophy. In 2021, he won an R&A Student Tour Series event in Ireland and finished runner-up in both the West of Ireland Amateur Open and Connacht Men’s Stroke Play.

Mark Power
A second Walker Cup appearance for Power who went 3-1-0 in 2021 at Seminole and was 2-0-0 in foursomes with John Murphy. To date in 2023, the Ireland national team player has completed his fourth collegiate season at Wake Forest University and finished tied 13th in the European Amateur Championship in Estonia. In 2022, he reached the last-32 in The Amateur Championship and the last-64 in the US Amateur and represented Ireland in the Eisenhower Trophy. In that year, he was also a member of the winning GB&I team in the St Andrews Trophy against the Continent of Europe. In 2020, he finished runner-up in the Brabazon Trophy, reached the semi-finals of The Amateur Championship at Royal Birkdale and represented the International team in the Arnold Palmer Cup.

Calum Scott
In 2019, his older brother Sandy represented GB&I at Royal Liverpool and Scott now joins the family roll of honour. This year, the member of Scotland’s national team finished tied third in the St Andrews Links Trophy, reached the last-64 in The Amateur Championship at Hillside, made the last-32 of the US Amateur and completed his second season at Texas Tech University. In 2022, he finished third in the European Amateur Championship and represented Scotland in the Eisenhower Trophy. In that year, he was also a member of the winning GB&I team in the St Andrews Trophy against the Continent of Europe. In 2021, he reached the quarter-finals of The Amateur Championship over his home course of Nairn and reached the last-16 in both The R&A Boys’ Amateur and Scottish Amateur Open.


Copyright © 2015-2023, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

152. R&A Clubhouse To Be Closed For 2023 Walker Cup

9th March 2023

Scottish golf magazine ‘Bunkered’ reported on 8th March that the iconic R&A clubhouse that sits behind the 1st tee of the Old Course will be closed during this year’s Walker Cup match and that building work on the new extension will still be ongoing.

Work started on a new basement changing room, increasing locker numbers from 120 to 450, adding an enlarged bag store and for the first time a separate women’s area, under the Club’s car park in October 2022. 

Planning permission for the project was originally granted by Fife Council in December 2020 but the work delayed until after the playing of the 150th Open Championship last July, which itself was pushed back a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The work is being carried out in two phases. The first of those was due for completion by 14th August, ahead of the Walker Cup match on 2nd-3rd September, allowing the re-opening of the clubhouse. Phase 2 was then to be completed by 31st December.

The biggest development to the building since its original construction in 1853 was placed in the hands of Robertson Construction Tayside Ltd but the project has been beset with delays. Phase 1 is now not expected to be completed before 22nd November, whilst Phase 2 is not scheduled to be finished before the end of March 2024.

The R&A has this week written to its members advising them that the ongoing refurbishment work would not be completed on time and that the facility would be closed for both the Walker Cup and the Club’s Autumn Meeting which commences shortly afterwards.

In the email The R&A explained that the main causes for the delay have been the “extensive underpinning” of the building’s south walls. The extent of work required was not anticipated during the tender stages, with structural weaknesses found in the staircase requiring “remediation” and admitted that “This is clearly disappointing news but we can assure you that the ramifications and re-scheduling of works have been researched in detail.”

The timetable was clearly too tight given the age of the building and the nature of the work proposed and the various parties under-estimated the degree of contingency necessary.

I wonder how The R&A would have reacted if another GB&I hosting club had commenced such work and then failed to complete it so close to hosting the Walker Cup ?

Whilst the condition of the course is of primary importance the existence of a screened building site just a few yards away from a closed clubhouse and 18th green will be an embarrassment to The R&A.

I am sure the players (and to a lesser degree their families and all of the supporters) will still thoroughly enjoy the occasion. However, they will no doubt be equally disappointed that they will now miss out on the opportunity for a once in a lifetime visit to the clubhouse and panoramic photos up the 18th fairway.

Members have been using nearby Forgan House on The Links road as the club’s temporary clubhouse and it appears the Walker Cup teams will now have to follow suit.


Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

141. Walker Cup Moves To Even Years From 2026

21st March 2022

The R&A and the USGA have announced that the Walker Cup match will be contested in even years from 2026 onwards.

The 49th Walker Cup match will be contested in September 2023 at St Andrews and the 50th at Cypress Point in September 2025.

The R&A had not yet announced their 2027 venue but given that this match has now been brought forward to 2026 a statement in this regard can be expected shortly.

The above calendar change means the USGA has confirmed that the matches previously scheduled by them for Bandon Dunes in 2029 and Oakmont Country Club in 2033 will now be played in 2028 and 2032 respectively.The move has been driven by the International Golf Federation moving the World Amateur Team Championship to odd years from 2023, a decision which was announced in 2020. This was in turn caused by golf returning to the Summer Olympic Games schedule in 2016 and now taking place in even years.

Phil Anderton, Chief Development Officer at The R&A, said, “We believe that this change creates the best schedule for the players and for the Walker Cup match itself. The Walker Cup is at the forefront of men’s amateur golf and we want to ensure that its status is reflected in its position in the golfing calendar.”

“This is just the next step as we make sure team competitions have a balanced schedule and in this case, encourage participation by the world’s best amateurs without unnecessary conflict,” said John Bodenhamer, Chief Championships Officer at USGA.ME.

Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

132. The R&A Announce The 2021 GB&I Walker Cup Team

30th March 2021

The R&A have today announced their 10-man Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) team for the 48th Walker Cup match to be played against USA on 8th-9th May at Seminole G.C. in Florida.

GB&I Team (Graphic: The R&A)

Here is a list of the players with their nationalities, ages and current amateur rankings: –


Barclay BROWN – England (20) – SPWAR #65 / WAGR #134

Alex FITZPATRICK – England (22) – SPWAR #18 / WAGR #14

Angus FLANAGAN – England (21) – SPWAR #110 / WAGR #40

Ben JONES – England (21) – SPWAR #86 / WAGR #41

Matty LAMB – England (23) – SPWAR #113 / WAGR #85

Joe LONG – England (23) – SPWAR #31 / WAGR #48

John MURPHY – Ireland (22) – SPWAR #63 / WAGR #99

Mark POWER – Ireland (20) – SPWAR #52 / WAGR #29

Ben SCHMIDT – England (18) – SPWAR #78 / WAGR #31

Sandy SCOTT – Scotland (22) – SPWAR #241 / WAGR #8


Jack DYER – England (23) – SPWAR #42 / WAGR #225

Jake BOLTON – England (22) – SPWAR #73 / WAGR #60

Here is my analysis of the 2021 selection: –

There are 7 English, 2 Irish, 1 Scottish and 0 Welsh players in the 2021 GB&I team.

Joe LONG (ENG) earned his place on the team by winning the 125th Amateur Championship at Royal Birkdale G.C. in August 2020.

Sandy SCOTT (SCO) and Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) secured their places as the two highest ranked GB&I players in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) at the time of selection. They are also the only two players to return from the 2019 match at Royal Liverpool G.C.

The remaining seven players and two reserves were selected by the four-man Selection Committee which comprised Pádraig HOGAN (Chairman / Ireland), Stuart WILSON (Captain / Scotland), Nigel EDWARDS (England) and Carl ROWE (Wales).

The Covid-19 pandemic has complicated the selection process with home-based players largely unable to make their cases with few competitive opportunities in the last 6 months.

It is therefore no surprise to see six of the ten-man team made up of US college players, namely, Barclay Brown (Stanford), Alex Fitzpatrick (Wake Forest), Angus Flanagan (Minnesota), John Murphy (Louisville), Mark Power (Wake Forest) and Sandy Scott (Texas Tech).

Callum FARR (ENG), Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL), Joe PAGDIN (ENG) and Caolan RAFFERTY (IRL), who were all in the original 15-man GB&I Walker Cup Squad announced on 2nd December, missed out.

Jack DYER (ENG) played his way into the picture from outside the Squad with a series of very good results in South Africa early in 2021.


Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

128. Will The 2021 Walker Cup Be Postponed Until October ?

17th February 2021

All of the signals suggest that the 2021 Walker Cup may shortly be postponed.

The COVID-19 pandemic is the primary reason why the match should not take place in early May. The United Kingdom and Ireland have been badly impacted. Golf is currently banned in all home countries except for Scotland with widespread travel restrictions and quarantining in place. Whilst a roadmap to an easing of these controls is due to be announced by the UK Government next week this is not expected to deliver a quick fix. A gradual easing of health and safety measures over the next 4-6 months seems to be the plan.

Reflecting the above The R&A today announced that the Men’s Home Internationals would not now be played between 14-16 April 2021 at Royal Dornoch in Scotland due to the pandemic. You will recall this competition had been brought forward in December from its original September date to assist the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) selectors in choosing a Walker Cup team.

Some leading GB&I amateurs have struggled to find regular practice – let alone playing – opportunities since last summer given the UK lockdowns and travel issues with regard to the normal winter haunts of Australia, South Africa and USA. It now seems unlikely that any competitive golf will take place in GB&I until June 2021. It will also be interesting to see how many of the current 27 GB&I entrants to the forthcoming Spanish International Amateur make the 1st tee on 3rd March.

The selection of a proper GB&I team in April is compromised in my opinion. Yes, The R&A could select one for a May match at Seminole but would it be fair to all of the players currently competing for a spot to do so.

Last week I wrote about Davis THOMPSON, Ricky CASTILLO and John PAK all being selected for the USA Walker Cup team as the three highest ranked USA players in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) released on the 10th February 2021. The USGA announced this preliminary selection criteria on 21st December 2020 but have subsequently been unusually silent in formally confirming these names. I interpret this as evidence that a decision to proceed in May is still being considered carefully by both parties.

The Walker Cup needs family, friends and fans to make it what it is. With travel from Europe likely to be very difficult until later in the summer this will not be straight forward for away supporters in May. It should not be played behind closed doors and with no tickets having gone on sale yet this seems to be an option being considered. A match with just the players and captains on site – perhaps with some home fans too – hardly seems worth playing to me.

There is no material commercial television and sponsorship considerations to hamper a deferment; something which has driven the continuation of the U.S. Open, The Open Championship and PGA or European Tour events in 2020/21.

Golf at Seminole is seasonal with play commencing in late October and ending in mid-May. Therefore if the USGA wish to keep the match in Juno Beach, Florida it seems sensible to reschedule it for October as soon as the course re-opens. A move to another venue in August or September is an option if October is considered too late.

Amateur golf fans in USA may not understand a postponement given that college and professional golf is being played with some fans able to attend. However, the situation in GB&I is not the same. I understand that some players on both sides may not choose to wait for an Autumn date but on balance I believe we’ve now reached the point where we need to buy ourselves some more time. A date broadly in line with the now traditional September one is not a disaster if it means a normal match for both sides can be played.


Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

126. The 2021 R&A Men’s Home Internationals Are To Be Played In April

17th December 2020

The R&A have announced that the Men’s Home Internationals will now be played at Royal Dornoch G.C. in Scotland on 14-16 April 2021.

The decision has been made to assist Great Britain and Ireland’s (GB&I) preparations for the Walker Cup match against USA on 8-9 May 2021.

It now seems likely that the GB&I team will be selected immediately following the tournament and announced publically on Monday 19th April.

Royal Dornoch G.C. Championship Course (Photo: Royal Dornoch G.C.)

The R&A will be running the Men’s Home Internationals for the first time next year. They will be taking over from the four home golf unions that participate and have hosted it in turn since 1932.

The 2020 Home Internationals were scheduled to be played at Royal Dornoch G.C. on 9-11 September but were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2021 event was due to be played at Hankley Common G.C. in England on 8-10 September but it appears they will now have to wait until 2022 for their turn.

The Home Internationals are contested by 11-man teams from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales with the four countries playing each other over three successive days. Each match involves 5 foursomes and 10 singles, all played over 18 holes.

Ireland were champions four times between 2014-17 with England winning the title in 2018 and 2019.

It’s mid-September date in the amateur calendar has always been a surprise given it’s prestige and excellent basis for GB&I team selection. Mid-June to mid-August would be the ideal time for the Home Internationals to be staged as this would allow most of our U.S. college players to also participate.

It is worth noting that 7 of the recently announced 15 man 2021 GB&I Walker Cup Squad are studying in the United States. Their Spring seasons will be heading towards their NCAA Championship climax so these players won’t be able to participate in these ‘trials’.

An informal GB&I squad gathering will probably take place around the Jones Cup Invitational which is been played between 4-7 February 2021 and may involve a trip to Seminole GC.

The Raymond Trophy (Photo: Ayrshire Golf Blog)


Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

117. Stuart Wilson Appointed GB&I Walker Cup Captain For 2021

19th December 2019

Scotland’s Stuart WILSON (42) was today announced as the new captain of the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) men’s golf team.

Wilson is the Managing Secretary of Forfar G.C., the club he represented with distinction as a player for many years. He becomes the second GB&I captain to come from Forfar G.C., following in the footsteps of Sandy Saddler who led the team in 1977.

Stuart is married with two children.

His first match in charge will be against Continent of Europe in the St. Andrews Trophy which is being staged at Royal Porthcawl G.C. on 23-24 July 2020.

He will then captain the GB&I team against United States of America at the 48th Walker Cup match on 8-9 May 2021 at Seminole G.C. in Florida.

In all likelihood Wilson will also take in the 2022 St. Andrews Trophy before having the honour of captaining the GB&I Walker Cup team in his home country when the match returns to St. Andrews in 2023.

Stuart Wilson (Photo: carnoustiecountry.com)

The highlight of Wilson’s playing career was his victory in the 2004 Amateur Championship at St Andrews where he beat Lee Corfield 4&3 in the 36 hole final. He overcame Francesco Molinari 3&1 in the quarter finals in the same year.

A few weeks later he went on to win the low amateur Silver Medal at the Open Championship at Royal Troon when he finished tied 63rd. In his only other appearance at The Open he missed the cut at Royal Lytham & St. Annes’s in 2001 having come through qualifying.

In 2003 Wilson won the Lytham Trophy by 4-shots and was subsequently selected  for that year’s Walker Cup side at Ganton. GB&I won 12.5-11.5 with Stuart contributing two points from his four games; one and half of them coming with fellow Scotsman David Inglis in an unbeaten foursomes partnership.

A graduate of Abertay University in Dundee Wilson also represented GB&I in the Palmer Cup in 2001 and 2002, USA winning both matches.

Wilson has plenty of team captaincy experience firstly with Scotland Boys, then at the Junior Ryder Cup and most recently with GB&I Boys. However, he has found victories hard to come by to date.

USA beat Europe in both the 2012 and 2014 Junior Ryder Cup matches, firstly 14.5-9.5 at Olympia Fields C.C. and then 8-16 at Blairgowrie G.C.

In the Jacques Léglise Trophy Continent of Europe have twice beaten GB&I at home, at Ballybunion G.C. in 2017 and Aldeburgh G.C. in 2019 with Wilson’s team winning away at Kytäjä Golf, Finland in 2018.

Commenting upon his appointment Wilson said “I am very proud to be selected as the GB&I men’s team captain and look forward to leading a talented group of golfers at the St Andrews Trophy and the Walker Cup.”

“I have fond memories of my time as a player representing GB&I in these prestigious matches and I am determined to make a valuable contribution to the team as its leader and in helping the players.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on The R&A Boys’ Selection Committee and know first-hand the level of talent which is emerging. It feels like a very natural progression to be taking on this role to continue to foster these gifted amateur golfers.”

Stuart Wilson succeeds fellow Scot Craig Watson. Unfortunately for Craig he was unable to find the winning formula during his term of office.

GB&I currently hold neither the St Andrews Trophy or Walker Cup and with Continent of Europe seemingly getting stronger by the year and an away Walker Cup coming up in USA captain Nathanial Crosby’s back yard Wilson certainly has a big job on his hands. I wish him the best of luck.


Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

15. The 2016 European Men’s Amateur Team Championships

9th July 2016

The European Men’s Amateur Team Championships finished today in France (Division 1) and Luxembourg (Division 2).

These are the events that highlight a player’s ability to compete at the highest level and help firm up foursome pairings for selectors down the line.

Scotland retained their European Team title and in particular Connor SYME, Craig HOWIE, Robert MACINTYRE and Grant FORREST have enhanced their already strong reputations further.

Ireland‘s Stuart GREHAN and Jack HUME qualified strongly and performed well in the match play stage as the their team finished a creditable 6th.

There was little to cheer for England who finished a disappointing 13th. Alfie PLANT did however perform well himself.

Wales finished 2nd in Division 2 but David BOOTE won the stroke play qualifier and all four of his match play games.

All in all, save for Craig HOWIE, who is really applying pressure on the R&A selectors (and me), I haven’t seen anything to suggest I need to alter my St. Andrews Trophy team selection which I published here a few days ago.

Here is my GB&I Player Performance Analysis covering these two events.

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 18.01.22


Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.