Walker Cup draws A-list crowd in Southampton

Great Britain and Ireland's Matthew Fitzpatrick tees off

Great Britain and Ireland's Matthew Fitzpatrick tees off at the third hole during singles play in the Walker Cup at the National Golf Links in Southampton. (Sept. 7, 2013) (Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

Mark Herrmann

Newsday columnist Mark Herrmann Mark Herrmann

Herrmann has covered the Mets and Yankees since 1988,

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Even by Hamptons standards, the Walker Cup was an A-list gathering. People were drawn by the quality of the golf and of the course, the National Golf Links of America in Southampton. "Pretty spectacular," said Adam Scott, the Masters champion, who was enjoying last weekend on the East End and walked the fairways, watching the matches with his girlfriend and a couple of friends. Scott, who also recently won The Barclays, said he played the National several years ago.

Former President George W. Bush was at this Walker Cup, as was New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. Jim Kaat, the former All-Star pitcher, was one of the fans on the vintage layout in Southampton. So were golf champions Steve Melnyk, Bob Murphy, Dottie Pepper and Jay Sigel. It was a top shelf event, and a rare chance for everyone to see an exclusive club that had not hosted the Walker Cup since 1922.

"This is the one that everybody wanted to play in. This one means the most," said Nathan Smith, who has played in three Walker Cups and secured the clinching point for the United States over Great Britain and Ireland Sunday. About 5,000 people were there Saturday, a good-sized crowd for any sporting event on Long Island. The whole thing was so well received, especially by club members, that it probably will not take 91 years to bring it back.

The golf was good, too, especially from the Americans. Bush closed his remarks during the opening ceremony by telling both teams, "I'm honored to be in your presence."

 

St. John's has new home

The St. John's golf team has a new home, or two. Coach Frank Darby announced during an outing for alumni and supporters at Bethpage Red Friday that the Red Storm's official practice site is now North Shore Country Club in Glen Head. Alumnus Mike Sullivan, an officer with both the Metropolitan and Long Island Golf Associations, added that fundraising is going well for a high-tech indoor facility on campus.

Hitting bays like a driving range, a putting surface, equipment for measuring launch angle and ball flight, a locker room and meeting room are planned. "It's a place where the golf team can gather, study and build a culture," Sullivan said.

Former St. John's player Mike Diffley, the 2013 Met PGA Teacher of the Year out of Pelham Country Club, gave a putting clinic before the outing. Darby introduced the current roster, including freshman Sean Byrne of Rockville Centre. His father, John, and grandfather, Jack, also played for the school. "There have been three coaches in St. John's golf history," Sean said, referring to Walter McLaughlin, Doc Gimmler and Darby, "and there has been a member of the Byrne family to play for every one. It's pretty remarkable."

Also on the college scene: Farmingdale State senior Adam Larkin was the medalist last weekend at the Tim Brown Invitational hosted by upstate Skidmore College . . . Texas A & M's team played at Friar's Head in Riverhead and Maidstone in East Hampton before a match last weekend with Yale at The Bridge in Bridgehampton.

 

Back on Black

It finally will be official on Tuesday, when PGA of America executives and New York State officials will be at Bethpage Black for a news conference to announce that the 2019 PGA Championship and the 2024 Ryder Cup will come to the Black Course. The latter competition has become one of the most compelling in golf, and many places want to host it . . . The inaugural Brooklyn Open will be held Oct. 21 at the renovated Marine Park Golf Course on Jamaica Bay. Entries are being accepted at www.brooklynopen.com.