The feeling that amateur golfers have for the Walker Cup was captured by Nathan Smith when he was asked during the Masters last week if he would like to be on the U.S. team for a third time. "I wouldn't like,'' he said. "I would love to be.''
This time, the "where'' is as good as the ''what'' regarding the Walker Cup, which is as prestigious among amateurs as the Ryder Cup is among pros (many in the latter have played in the former). This September, it will be held at the National Golf Links of America in Southampton, site of the first Walker Cup in 1922. This will be the first time that the match between the U.S. and Great Britain and Ireland will return to a previous American site.
"It's one of my favorite courses and I think it's a great place to have it,'' said Smith, 34, of Brookville, Pa., who has won four U.S. Mid-Amateur titles (including one at Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton) and played in four Masters. "All of it is kind of distinctive. It's a classic old style course where the wind can blow. There are some windmills and different things, there are some out-of-the-box holes. It's a fun setup.''
Mike Miller, 21, whose father is the longtime pro at Knollwood Country Club in Westchester, is a Walker candidate, having attended a team practice session earlier this year. "There's really no greater accomplishment, in my mind, than to wear the red, white and blue,'' he said. "It's in my home state of New York, it's on my home soil and it's in the Met Section.''
For the public, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see an exclusive one-of-a-kind course (ticket information: www.2013walkercup.com). Three-time Long Island Open champion Mike Meehan, head pro at Old Westbury, said at the Metropolitan Golf Association's media day this week that National is among his three favorite courses and possibly No. 1.
"You can try to drive some par 4s, and you might pay the price. You can drive the first green and walk off with a 6 if you don't hit it in the right spot,'' he said. "It's awesome.''
Sebonack looking good as women's Open nears
Michael Pascucci, founder and owner of Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, returned from a winter in Florida this week and was pleased with the course that will host Long Island's first U.S. Women's Open June 27-30. "Garret [Bodington, the superintendent] has the place immaculate, even after the storms,'' Pascucci said, adding that the club's cabins are just about sold out for hospitality sites. He said the U.S. Golf Association told him the course will play at about 6,839 yards. Greens will run at 13 on the Stimpmeter, and grass on the fairways will be slightly longer than usual.
Remembering Southward Ho pro Joe Malloy
The golf community and other Long Islanders mourned the death this past week of Joe Malloy, the longtime pro at Southward Ho who most recently ran the Town of Babylon's Sumpwams Creek course. Two years ago, at 79, he was given the Met PGA's Junior Golf Leader Award for his youth programs in Babylon.