BEHIND THE SCENES
USGA Members Cross Continents for Good Golf August 24, 2016 | FAR HILLS, N.J. By David Chmiel, USGA

Peter Lowe (left) and golf buddy Rayland Russell are USGA members who came from Scotland to watch the 2016 U.S. Open. (Courtesy/Blake Bekken)

This summer has been full of exciting championships, from the Four-Balls to the Opens, the Amateurs to the Olympics, and soon on to the USGA’s September championships. Players and fans come from all over the world to make, or witness, golf history.

With roughly 700,000 USGA members, it’s a pretty good bet that you will meet many over the course of a championship – wearing their special member hats or even volunteer uniforms. But it’s a special treat when you meet someone who has crossed an ocean or two to support a USGA championship and it doesn’t take long to realize that, no matter where any golfer comes from, they share a common bond with others who love the game.  

“I am a 12 [handicap], but I play to it badly,” said Peter Lowe at the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club. “That is why I love to see the game played properly, especially at the U.S. Open.”

Lowe, from Longniddry in the Lothian region of Scotland, roughly 15 miles from Edinburgh, is a USGA member. The USGA has 2,773 members who live outside the United States; they come from 72 nations, with Germany, Canada, Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom comprising the top five. Lowe is one of the 21 USGA members in Scotland. His reason for joining is simple.

“Before I even started playing golf, I saw the 1981 U.S. Open at Merion and I was fascinated by the wicker baskets on the flagsticks,” he said. “They were unlike anything I had seen on courses at home and the courses didn’t look like what I was used to passing by. I was intrigued.”

He wasn’t intrigued enough to try it the next day. Six years later, though, he played his first round.

“It was on a course I don’t remember,” he said. “But it was short enough to not scare me off and had sloping greens that made my approach shots better than they deserved to be. It was fantastic, even if it wasn’t good. I was so angry for not starting sooner.

“That is why I joined the USGA. I just like to do a bit of good for golf,” said Lowe. “This is my eighth trip to the U.S. Open. It is a true pleasure to watch the best players in the world take on a beast like Oakmont Country Club. To watch how precise these players are, playing to within an inch of where they are aiming… I am happy to get it somewhere on the green and get in the hole in less than three putts. Then we take a wee bit of a vacation in the States and get back home to play golf.”

You can’t blame him for that, since he plays at two of Scotland’s more storied and interesting courses: Longniddry Golf Club and Gullane Golf Club. At home, Lowe is a member of the Lothian Golf Association, a regional group of 42 affiliated golf courses.

“I can never truly approximate the swings I see, but it never takes away from the enjoyment of the game. I can have an awful time of it one day, but I can’t wait to turn up and play the next.”

That could very well be the secret to our love affair with the game, no matter where you play.

David Chmiel is manager of member content for the USGA. Contact him at dchmiel@usga.org. Interested in becoming a USGA member? Click here. 

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