Courtesy of The Wire - learn
Once upon a time members of the U.S.
Walker Cup team received an invitation to the Masters, which was not only
a nice gesture from that "little ol' toonamint" in Augusta, Ga., but
also proper recognition (initiated by the ultimate amateur, tournament founder
Bob Jones) in an age when many amateur players were on nearly equal footing with
their professional peers.
Take, for instance, the 1959 squad that made its way to Augusta National Golf
Club, which turned out to include quite a sparkling array of talented players.
Among them: E. Harvie Ward, Billy Joe Patton and Deane Beman, who, of course,
went on to serve as commissioner of the PGA Tour, plus a couple of men who became
Masters champions - Tommy Aaron and Jack Nicklaus.
Such recognition today would seem anachronistic in an age when practically
every decision in the sports world revolves around earnings, potential earnings
or, for those who retain their amateur status beyond one or two significant
achievements, potential earnings forfeited. (If we're not talking about what
athletes make, we like to talk about what they're not making.) But, perhaps,
it's time to consider ancillary perks for the nation's best amateurs.
Here's one idea: award Walker Cuppers a spot in the second stage of the PGA
Tour Qualifying Tournament. The most recent Q-School results indicate that such
a benefit would be warranted. The medalist in the six-day tournament was John
B. Holmes, the Kentucky standout and Walker Cup member. Jeff Overton and Nicholas
Thompson, teammates of Holmes on this year's winning U.S. team, also made it
through the grueling test to earn a Tour card.
Clearly, these guys can play. Why not help them move along a bit faster?
Here's another idea. Grant Walker Cup players seven exemptions on the Nationwide
Tour in the first full season after they have been a professional golfer for
one year. If they play on more than one team, grant them seven for each tour
of duty, if they need it.
While these ideas seem like merely passing out favors for those who already
enjoy the honor of playing for their country, they also serve a larger purpose.
They might ensure that some of our best players take time to develop by staying
amateurs longer. By remaining in the amateur ranks an extra year or two, they
might elevate the status of the amateur ranks and return it to a more rightful
level in the golf spectrum.
Were he around now, Bobby Jones sure wouldn't have a problem with that.