“I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
– General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Jay Sigel, the playing captain of the 1983 USA Walker Cup Team, decided to pair Willie Wood and Brad Faxon, two of the college standouts on his team, in the first foursomes (alternate-shot) match against Stephen Keppler and Arthur Pierse of the Great Britain and Ireland Team at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
Faxon and Wood agreed that Wood would hit the tee shots on the odd-numbered holes, meaning that Wood would hit the Match’s first tee shot. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans.
“Willie and I are there on the tee, ready to get started,” Faxon recounted with a laugh nearly 32 years later. “Then he looked at me and said: ‘I can’t do it. I am too nervous.’ It wasn’t like I was all that calm myself, but now I had to hit the tee shots on the odd holes. Fortunately, I could get the club back and I hit a pretty good drive. We won the first five holes, four of them with birdies. That helped calm us down. But it was a great match and we won, 3 and 1.”
Faxon and Wood, recently graduated All-America players from Furman University and Oklahoma State University, respectively, were headed for long careers as professionals. But first at Hoylake, Faxon (1-1 in foursomes, 2-0 in singles) and Wood (1-1, 0-1-1) helped the team earn a 13½-10½ victory to retain the Cup.
“That is an experience you can’t prepare for,” said Faxon, who went on to play for his country in the 1995 and 1997 Ryder Cups. “It’s a great feeling to play an individual sport, in a team setting, for your country. It was one of the best experiences in golf I have ever had.”
Captain John “Spider” Miller, who played for the USA in 1999, will lead recent U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau and the rest of the 2015 USA Walker Cup Team against the Great Britain and Ireland Team Sept. 12-13 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, England. Catch the action from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12 on ESPN3; from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13 on ESPN3, and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13 on ESPN2.
David Chmiel is manager of Members content for the USGA. Contact him at email@example.com.