Scott Harvey of Kernersville, N.C., a two-time USGA champion and a member of the USA Walker Cup team in 2015, is keenly aware of the mindset of competitive amateur golfers.
That’s why he collaborated with businessman and amateur golf advocate Albert Huddleston to begin the East West Matches at Maridoe Golf Club near Dallas in 2020.
The second edition of the Matches is set for Nov. 4-6 with 36 of the nation’s best amateurs gathering in Texas for a Ryder Cup-style event that promotes the amateur game and focuses simultaneously on competition and camaraderie. The West won the inaugural event in 2020, 23-22.
“From a competitive standpoint, you have an event that everyone cares deeply about and takes a lot of pride in,” said Harvey. “But after the golf portion of the event, everyone comes together as a family and there are no “sides”. It really is a good time and only one that can come from a team event.”
Opened in 2017, Maridoe hosted the 2019 Trans Miss Invitational and that’s where Harvey and Huddleston started talking about the East West Matches.
The club, with Huddleston’s efforts, became a place for events during the COVID pause. In its brief existence, Maridoe has hosted a slew of events including three Texas state championships, the Maridoe Junior, the Maridoe Intercollegiate, the Maridoe Samaritan, the Southern Amateur and the 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship.
“No matter what event it is, you have to have people that support the event,” said founder and East team member Harvey. “And that includes the players, the club and its staff. Mr. Huddleston is a huge supporter and fan of amateur golf and his willingness to get behind the event with a great club like Maridoe is something special. Everything Mr. Huddleston is involved in will be first class. it was an easy partnership for sure.”
Maridoe Golf Club
Of the 36 players, 12 are making their second appearance and seven players – Nick Dunlap, Scott Harvey, Doug Hanzel, Mike McCoy, Bob Royak, Rusty Strawn, and Chad Wilfong – have won a USGA Championship. Each of the captains – Nathaniel Crosby (East) and Kevin Marsh (West) are also USGA champions. In addition, Tommy Brennan, Chip Brooke, Evan Beck, Mark Costanza, Joe Deraney, Hanzel, Harvey, and Matt Sughrue are USGA championship runners-up.
“My expectations for this year’s matches are for the competition to be as fierce as it was last year while maintaining the camaraderie,” said the East’s Jeromino Esteve, 41, of Windermere, Fla., who won the 2022 Fishers Island Invitational and is a four-time member of Puerto Rico’s World Amateur Team Championship squad. “It was one of the best balances of competition with congeniality I have been a part of. The competitors all play against each other most of the year, so you know the guys pretty well. That guarantees the hang is going to be awesome. Then for the teams to be defined by a boundary and you get to take these guys on in a Ryder Cup format makes the competition aspect of it intense.”
The East and West teams, captained by past U.S. Amateur champion and two-time Walker captain Nathaniel Crosby and 2005 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Kevin Marsh, respectively consist of 10 mid-amateurs (players 25 and older), six seniors (55 and older) and two collegians. The Mississippi River serves as the border for the teams, which are selected based on a two-year points system. The team with the highest point total wins and this year’s champions will receive silver belt buckles.
Before each day of the competition a ‘draw dinner’ is conducted amidst what many refer to as rousing ‘banter’ and a large part of the fun factor of the Matches. The opening salvo comes from West captain Kevin Marsh in his answer about ‘who is the favorite?’: “Just look at the points list. The East is clearly the favorite.”
Informal practice rounds will be played on Nov. 3. All matches are 18 holes in length. Eight four-ball matches begin the competition on Nov. 4. November 5 is the busiest day with nine foursomes matches in the morning followed by nine foursomes matches in the afternoon. Eighteen singles matches in the morning – played in groups of four not two – and a closing celebration on the 18th hole conclude the event on Nov. 6.
“This event is guys having a great time together and playing some high-level golf,” said Marsh. “The uniqueness of this event, at a venue like Maridoe, provides such a special recipe for great matches and such a fun time for everyone involved.”
Harvey, who handles almost all of the behind-the-scenes preparations along with Maridoe, borrows from the mantra of the U.S. Mid-Amateur when it was established in 1981 – the highest level of competition but a side ‘reward’ of long-lasting bonds.
“The only thing I can really say that can be expected is that friendships will be made,” said Harvey. “The environment created for this event lends its hand to just that. It’s really all about having a competitive but friendly environment with everyone together. And I believe that is also what makes this event so special.”
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2022 Team Rosters
Nathaniel Crosby, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Andrew Bailey, Cleveland, Ohio; Chip Brooke, Altamonte Springs, Fla.; Evan Beck, Virginia Beach, Va.; Mark Costanza, Morristown, N.J.; Joe Deraney, Tupelo, Miss.; Jeromino Esteve, Windermere, Fla.; Scott Harvey, Kernersville, N.C.; Matt Mattare, Jersey City, N.J.; Tug Maude, Atlanta, Ga.; Chad Wilfong, Charlotte, N.C.
Doug Hanzel, Savannah, Ga.; Steve Harwell, Mooresville, N.C.; Billy Mitchell, Atlanta, Ga.;
Bob Royak, Alpharetta, Ga.; Rusty Strawn, McDonough, Ga.; Matt Sughrue, Arlington, Va.
Caleb Surratt, Indian Trail, N.C. (University of Tennessee), Nick Dunlap, Huntsville, Ala. (University of Alabama)
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Kevin Marsh, Las Vegas, Nev.
Brady Exber, Las Vegas, Nev.
Jason Anthony, Fairfield, Calif.; Skip Berkmeyer, Town and Country, Mo.; Denny Bull, Norwalk, Iowa; Derek Busby, Ruston, La.; Patrick Christovich, New Orleans, La.; Nick Geyer, San Diego, Calif.; Colby Harwell, San Antonio, Texas; John Hunter, Spring, Texas; Brad Nurski, St. Joseph, Mo.; John Sawin, Pebble Beach, Calif.
Tommy Brennan, Covington, La.; Jon Brown, Adel, Iowa; Robert Funk, Canyon Lake, Calif.
Mike McCoy, Des Moines, Iowa; John McClure, Austin, Texas; Mike Rowley, San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Luke Potter (Arizona State), Derek Hitchner, Minneapolis, Minn. (Pepperdine University)
by Pete Kowalski, Special to AmateurGolf.com