No. 16 at Maridoe Golf Club (Brayden Conover)
The East West Cup Matches will take place November 6-8 after a highly anticipated wait. Bringing some of the most elite amateur talent from both sides of the Mississippi River, the East West Matches will kick off their inaugural event at the epicenter of amateur golf during the COVID-19 pandemic; Maridoe Golf Club in Carrolton, Texas.
Although an inaugural event, the East West Matches have been an idea floated around the amateur golf realm for over 20 years. David Nelson had a similar style event put together at Bandon Dunes set and ready to go. Unfortunately, 9/11 happened and the event simply never came to fruition. Then, nearly a decade ago the Amateur Golf Alliance, who host the Concession Cup, flirted with the idea as well. It was not until noted mid-amateur Scott Harvey chatted with Maridoe Golf Club owner Albert Huddleston while Harvey was playing the Trans-Mississippi at Maridoe in the summer of 2019 that the East West Matches picked up steam.
“He [Huddleston] actually had some very similar ideas for doing an event,” Harvey told AmateurGolf.com. “It was a very easy partnership.”
Comprising of two teams of 18, the breakdown is as follows:
6 seniors, 10 mid-amateurs, and 2 amateurs under 25.
Harvey, who is a member of the East team, led by amateur golf legend Paul Simson, is most excited for the opportunity to play alongside some of the best non-professionals in the United States.
“What I’m most looking forward to is everyone getting together,” Harvey said. “The camaraderie of the whole event, the trash-talking and just the fun that goes along with everyone being in a competitive environment. I think that’s the most exciting part for me.”
Speaking of Paul Simson, AmateurGolf.com got to catch up with the East captain ahead of Friday’s matches. Simson’s biggest concern? Learning how to manage Maridoe’s green complexes.
“There’s no let-up on this golf course,” Simson said. “You’ve got to keep your ball on a good line to give yourself the maximum opportunity to hit the green and then you have to make sure that when you place the ball on the green that you’re in a position where it doesn’t take heroics just to two-putt.”
After playing Maridoe with Simson, Harvey, and Huddleston last month, I can be the first to tell you that Simson’s concern is a valid one. There are multiple ways to secure a good score, but even more ways to come away with a bogey or worse.
“You can leave yourself some pretty difficult putts,” said Simson. “And at the speed they run at, which is probably 12 to 13, you can have some real issues out here. For a stroke play golf course, it’s extremely difficult, but for a match play golf course, I think it’s a lot of fun.”
Among those on the East team, Florida State’s John Pak piques interest. The No. 1 ranked player in the inaugural PGA Tour Rankings has yet to relinquish the top spot through 15 weeks of the rankings beginning. The Seminole was the lone amateur to make the cut at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. He also secured a T-6 finish at the Southern Amateur held at Maridoe back in July.
Fellow youngblood Tyler Strafaci draws attention to the East. The Georgia Tech senior had an iconic summer as he picked up wins at the North & South Amateur, the Palmetto Amateur, and capped his summer with a dramatic and emotional win at the U.S. Amateur at Bandon Dunes.
Coming off a T-12 finish at the Azalea Invitational last week, Strafaci, as well as Pak, have an opportunity to spark a veteran-laden East team.
As for the West, they have the home turf advantage.
Led by Jim Holtgrieve who has had quite the amateur career which included a stint on the Senior PGA Tour, the West touts Maridoe members Rob Couture, Jerry Slagle, and Pierceson Coody.
“We really do have a number of guys that are either members there or have a lot of familiarity with the course,” Couture said. “I think it’s the kind of nuances out there that are hard to learn in one day.”
Just like the East, the West has two young guns that could potentially be difference makers. Coody, a member of the University of Texas golf team, knows the course like the back of his hand. Outside of being a member, Coody was at Maridoe in tournament play just last month at the Maridoe Collegiate where he helped the Longhorns take a T-4 finish.
Mac Meissner, a local kid who plays his collegiate golf just down the road at SMU, won the Southern Invitational over the summer at Maridoe. Having winning experience at a course as difficult as Maridoe can prove crucial when the shots matter most.
Mid-ams and seniors to keep your eyes on as the event unfolds include Doug Hanzel (E), Chip Lutz (E), Joe Deraney (E), Matt Parziale (E), Gene Elliott (W), Lewis Stephenson (W), and Stewart Hagestad (W).
Play will commence Friday afternoon beginning with four-ball matches. Saturday will consist of morning and afternoon foursome matches with singles matches concluding play on Sunday. Per Paul Simson, both captains agreed to pair teams together no more than once to allow for unique pairings on both sides of the board.
View results for East West Cup
ABOUT THE East West Cup
Started in 2020, the East West Matches feature
Cup-style team matches for American mid-amateurs
and seniors. The Mississippi River is the dividing line
between East and West teams, each of which is
comprised of 18 players: 6 seniors, at least 10 mid-
amateurs, and up to 2 amateurs
who haven't yet
reached the age of 25.
A points system will be utilized to select 50% of each
team, with the other 50% chosen by the tournament
committee. Teams will be selected at the conclusion
of the US Mid and US Senior Amateur
The schedule of play is 18 holes of four-ball on
Friday, 36 holes of foursomes on Saturday, and 18
holes of singles on Sunday.
View Complete Tournament Information