Gary Wolstenholme, of England, competed on six Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup Teams, playing on four winning sides, including his inaugural competition in 1995 at Royal Porthcawl in Wales when GB&I posted a 14-10 victory over a USA side led by Tiger Woods. Wolstenholme, who won two British Amateur titles, is also the all-time individual victory leader for GB&I with 10. His overall record stands at 10-9-0.
|Gary Wolstenholme, of England, posted 10 overall victories in his six Walker Cup appearances to become the Great Britain and Ireland's all-time points leader. (USGA/John Mummert)
How does it feel to be the all-time points leader in Great Britain and Ireland Team history?
Wolstenholme: Obviously I have played in six Walker Cups, which is fairly unusual in GB&I history. To break the record for number of points won is always a good thing and I was on four winning teams. It was a big deal for me. I used to love those team events and it’s the one thing I miss now, having turned professional [as a senior player], is the fact that you don’t have those same team opportunities.
Is beating Tiger Woods in singles at Royal Porthcawl your best Walker Cup memory?
Wolstenholme: As far as the Walker Cup goes, probably. But also beating Anthony Kim in that [Sunday] singles match in Chicago (Chicago Golf Club) on the second day to give us a chance of pulling it off [was special]. We almost did. It all came down to the last match out on the last hole. I will always be remembered for that one with Tiger because of who he became as much as anything else. But at that stage, he was still regarded as the best amateur in the world. For me to be playing my first-ever Walker Cup match against someone of his caliber was pretty intimidating. But I enjoy those situations, and the conditions probably didn’t suit Tiger as much as it did for me. It was a one-off game. But it’s the one thing that will probably be on my tombstone.
The competition has gotten much tighter between the two teams in the last 20 years. What do you attribute that to?
Wolstenholme: I think the standard of amateur golf on our side of the Atlantic has certainly improved. The opportunity of going to American colleges as much as anything [has helped]. We’ve had a whole load of guys who went over there. Prior to 1995, it was really frowned upon that guys in the States [playing in college golf] didn’t really get selected because they weren’t in Britain during the selection process. Now it’s much more accepted.
It also seems that the golf unions in Great Britain and Ireland are putting forth resources to develop future talent?
Wolstenholme: The good thing, too, is that the national golf unions in Great Britain and Ireland are also sending their top players around the world to compete in Australia, South Africa, all around Europe. That makes a big difference because it gives them international experience playing against the best players in the world on a week in, week out basis.
What about National Golf Links of America being the host site for the 2013 Match?
Wolstenholme: To go to the National [Golf Links of America] is going to be very special because I am sure they are going to pull out all the stops as they always do when we go to America. With GB&I winning the Match at Royal Aberdeen two years ago, it’s going to be good vibes for us, but also I think for the American team to want to win it back again.
Just the opportunity to go somewhere like that [is special]. It won’t be just there, either. The guys will get the opportunity to play other venues [such as Shinnecock Hills and Sebonack] during that week as well. It’s probably almost the ultimate golfing trip. The R&A looks after you very well. You are looked after almost like the top pros.
Would you like to captain a Great Britain and Ireland side one day?
Wolstenholme: It’s the one thing I would really have loved to done, to captain a Walker Cup team. I think my experience would have been a useful asset. But you never know. Maybe I’ll get my amateur status back at some stage in the future. If [USA captain] Jim Holtgrieve can do it, maybe I can. I wish all the guys the very best of luck because it’s a marvelous springboard for their careers in the future.
- David Shefter