Palm Beach County Hosted Florida’s First Walker Cup

A storied golf rivalry added another chapter to its 99-year history when 20 of the world’s best amateur golfers teed off in the 48th Walker Cup Match at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida on May 7-8. Palm Beach County’s winning bid to host the event marked the first time that the United States and Great Britain & Ireland teams competed for the biennial trophy in Florida.

The Walker Cup is a trophy contested in odd-numbered years alternately held in the U.S. and Ireland or Britain. The matches, organized by The R&A and the United States Golf Association (USGA), have been played since 1922 and are named after the then-president of the USGA George Herbert Walker. Heading into the 2021 event, the U.S. led the all-time series 37-9-1. While the Americans have dominated the all-time series, the sides have been more evenly matched in recent times as all three events from 2003 to 2007 were all decided by a single point.

In 2019, the USA secured eight of the final 10 singles matches in a comeback effort to defeat GB&I at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England. It was the first win on foreign soil for the U.S. since 2007. In this year’s event, the U.S. came out on top to win its third consecutive Walker Cup by a score of 14-12.

The Walker Cup is often one of the last amateur events for many of golf’s top prospects before turning professional. Major champions Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, and Padraig Harrington, among many others, have represented their respective countries as amateurs.

This year’s teams included 10 of the top 20 ranked amateur golfers in the world, according to the World Amateur Golf Ranking. The highest-ranked player for the U.S. was world number two Pierceson Coody, a standout golfer for the University of Texas at Austin. Coody is a two-time All-American with the Longhorns and is the reigning Western Amateur champion. GB&I was led by England’s Alex Fitzpatrick, the team’s only returning player from 2019.

With Covid-19 safety protocols in place, the USGA allowed for 50% capacity, with approximately 2,500 spectators in attendance. Despite restrictions, the event created an estimated $1.5 million in economic impact for Palm Beach County.

The matches also put The Palm Beaches in front of millions of viewers with live, uninterrupted coverage in the U.S. from the Golf Channel. Additionally, the Walker Cup was distributed internationally via BBC and Sky Sports.

The host venue for the tournament was Juno Beach’s Seminole Golf Club. Designed in 1929 by famed course architect Donald Ross, Seminole is consistently ranked as one of the top 100 courses in the United States. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Seminole had never hosted a live televised event. The TaylorMade Driving Relief Skins Match, featuring Rickie Fowler, Matthew Wolff, Dustin Johnson, and McIlroy, was played in May 2020 and marked the first time the club had opened its doors to the public.

With the addition of this legendary event, Palm Beach County has now been home to premier events at all levels of golf including the PGA Tour’s The Honda Classic, Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio, PGA Tour Champion’s TimberTech Championship, various NCAA regional and championship events, and more.