ST. LOUIS – Inspiration can occur at any time, even when insomnia strikes at 2 in the morning.
Anxious over the rapidly approaching 2014 Curtis Cup Match in her hometown, Ellen Port, the USA captain, was having another sleepless night when a thought occurred to her.
With so much history at St. Louis Country Club, the host site for the biennial competition, Port decided to pay homage to original course designer C.B. Macdonald through a song.
Using the popular “Old Macdonald had a farm” nursery rhyme, Port scribbled words that highlighted the many features of St. Louis Country Club, from USGA championships that have been conducted there to its unique design characteristics.
Each of the four verses started with “Old Macdonald had a course” …
“She actually performed the song first and then said, you guys do whatever you want with it,” said USA Team member Ashlan Ramsey.
Said Port: “If you had been in the room watching these girls take ownership of this, that may be one of the biggest highlights of the week. It served as a great team builder.”
The eight USA competitors split into groups of two to take different segments. Ramsey and her partner, Emma Talley, spent 30 minutes going over their verse. Then the team took another 45 minutes to choreograph the skit, which they performed at the Supporter Dinner on Tuesday night, the kickoff to the week’s festivities.
While the team is accustomed to playing in front of crowds, this was an entirely different experience, with club dignitaries, officials from the USGA and the Ladies Golf Union, which selects the Great Britain & Ireland Curtis Cup Team, in attendance.
“I would say golf is what our team is best at,” said Ramsey. “We don’t have a lot of musical talent.”
The USA Team pulled off the skit with only a couple of minor glitches, though none of them expects to be cast on “America’s Got Talent.”
“I think they all appreciated that we did something bold and had a little fun with it,” said Ramsey.
Making Their Pitch
On Monday, Bill Dewitt III, the president of the St. Louis Cardinals and a five-time St. Louis C.C. club champion, arranged for both teams to attend the game between the Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals. The players, captains and team managers took the field before the game, then watched from Dewitt’s suite.
As part of the pre-game festivities, Port and GB&I captain Tegwen Matthews threw out the first pitch to Cardinals infielder Kolten Wong, who shook hands with all the players.
“Tegwen stole the show,” said Port. “[Tegwen] took it high and I took it low.”
“It was funny to hear GB&I’s reactions to the whole experience,” said Ramsey. “They didn’t know anything about baseball or the Cardinals. That’s definitely a way to go to a baseball game. They gave us the royal treatment.”
That treatment extended to the visitors from Kansas City, as the Royals won the game, 6-0.
View From The Top
The city’s iconic landmark is the Gateway Arch, the tallest man-made monument in the United States. Opened in 1965, the Arch serves as a tribute to the westward expansion of the U.S. No trip to St. Louis is complete without a visit, and the USA Team rode the tram to the top Monday afternoon.
“That was quite an experience,” said Ramsey. “You go up in an egg that is big enough for five people. If you are claustrophobic, it’s not a good idea.”
Port is doing her best this week to balance off-the-course activities with Match preparation.
“It was definitely a quick trip up and quick trip down,” said Port.
Odds and Ends
The list of men’s club champions at St. Louis Country Club includes past USGA presidents George Walker and Prescott Bush, Harry Potter (not the fictional character, but the golfer who won the silver medal at the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis), Cardinals president Bill Dewitt III and Sam Davis Jr. (not the singer)… A couple of thunderstorms rolled through the area on Wednesday, suspending play until 11 a.m. Port gave her players the option of playing or relaxing on Wednesday. … Both teams attended the Welcome Dinner on Wednesday night at the host club. The Flag-Raising Ceremony is Thursday at 6 p.m., followed by a reception.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer with the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.