|Duffy Waldorf, seen here at this year's U.S. Senior Open, capped his amateur career by playing in the 1985 Walker Cup Match. (USGA/John Mummert)
Duffy Waldorf, a longtime PGA Tour player who is now on the Champions Tour, competed on the victorious 1985 USA Walker Cup Team at Pine Valley (N.J.) Golf Club. Waldorf had just completed his senior season at UCLA. He went 1-2-0 in the competition, posting his long victory in singles on Day 1, 4 and 2, over David Gilford.
What are your memories of playing in that Match?
Waldorf: For one thing, it’s a team event, which you play a bit of in college, but still to play as part of a team for your country is just a different experience altogether. When the flags [are raised] and you get to the opening ceremonies, you feel a lot different. There’s a totally different nervous feeling because you just play for yourself all the time and [at the Walker Cup] you don’t feel like you’re playing for yourself. I remember I played OK, but it was a struggle that week. Just being with the guys for a week was a lot of fun.
Do you recall any first-tee jitters?
Waldorf: I seem to recall the first day I was with Sam Randolph for alternate shot. Not having played alternate shot, it was pretty difficult. I don’t remember who teed off first. I think maybe he teed off first. There were still plenty of nerves. The whole match was a whole bunch of nerves because [in foursomes] you don’t feel like you get to putt very much. It’s hard to get in rhythm with the putting and you’re [only] hitting half the shots. In alternate shot, you need to get off to a good start and get into the groove of your game quick. That day it wasn’t. We ended up losing that first match [4 and 3].
When you talk to anyone who has played in the Walker Cup, they say it’s one of their best experiences of their life. Do you feel the same way?
Waldorf: That’s one of the most special events you play in. It’s just as special as being an [assistant] captain on the Ryder Cup, where I didn’t even play in 2006. That was super special too; to be a part of the event. The only difference [between the Ryder Cup and Walker Cup experiences] is in the Walker Cup, I got to play. That’s the hard part. You are part of this big event and it’s like, ‘Oh, now I’ve got to go out and play.’ It would be much easier just to watch.
What about playing the Walker Cup at such a classic venue like Pine Valley?
Waldorf: I just felt very lucky to get to play that golf course. When I was in college [at UCLA] I was going to have one shot at the Walker Cup. I had a good year my last year and was going to be turning pro at the end of the year. The way it worked out, to get to play Pine Valley was special. You know you’re at one of the great shrines of golf. The Old Course [at St. Andrews], when you go to Cypress Point, Shinnecock [Hills], Augusta [National] … you know these courses are on a different level.