Local Golf Notes: White sets sights on Walker Cup

High school teacher faces tough summer schedule

bspear@thestate.comJanuary 13, 2013 

Todd White’s golf credentials require no embroidery.

He earned all-conference honors four times at Furman, won the Southern Conference individual title and has been inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame.

That’s without mentioning the amateur championships that include the State Amateur and State Mid-Am, his multiple player of the year honors and his impact in national events.

White might trade them all for his 2013 goal — a berth on the United States Walker Cup team.

“I can’t imagine anything better than representing your country,” said White, a history teacher at Hilton Head High. “Making the team would be a tremendous honor and I have to try now. I’m 45 and my window of opportunity is now.”

College-age golfers dominated the 10-player U.S. team that faces a squad from Great Britain and Ireland every other year, but White attracted the USGA’s attention last summer by advancing to match play in both the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur. He made the round of 32 in the former, the semifinals in the latter.

Then, in October, the letter came. The USGA invited him to join 15 Walker Cup candidates for a getting-to-know you gathering in December.

“That was the first indication I had that I might be on their radar,” he said. “I was pretty excited, and we had a great experience for those three days in Florida.”

The invitees played golf, of course, but they also learned about playing for and representing their country. They met U.S. captain Jim Holtgrieve and USGA officials, and they got to know each other. White and Nathan Smith, a multi-Mid-Amateur champion, represented what White calls “the more seasoned players.”

Now comes the challenge: White must continue his strong play. The U.S. team will not be finalized until after the U.S. Amateur.

“I will have to be selective in what events I can play until school is out, then I will have a heavy schedule,” he said. “In consecutive weeks in June, I will play in the Palmetto Amateur, the Sunnehanna Amateur and the Northeast Amateur” — all high-profile tournaments — “and I hope to qualify for the U.S. Public Links and U.S. Amateur.”

Although there is no requirement to select older players, the USGA has a history of including mid-amateurs on the Walker Cup squad. Smith has been on the team twice.

“It’s just a matter of playing well, and this is going to be an exciting year for me,” White said. “I’m really looking forward to it, and I’m going everything I can — playing, practicing, working out — to give myself my best chance to represent my country.

“This opportunity is just another way that golf has blessed me in so many ways. The people I have met, the friendships developed and the places I have been through golf make all the practice worthwhile.”

The 2013 Walker Cup matches will be held Sept. 7-8 at the National Golf Links in Southampton, N.Y.

Notes

If White makes the team, he will be the eighth player from South Carolina on a Walker Cup squad. The others: Jack Lewis Jr. (1969), Jonathan Byrd (1999), Lucas Glover and D.J. Trahan (2001), Matt Hendrix and Bill Haas (2003) and Dustin Johnson (2007). ...

Top South Carolina finishers in the CGA’s Young Amateur at Pinewild in Pinehurst: Samuel Jackson III (Pelion), second, men’s division; Maureen Dunnagan (Lexington) and Rachel Uremovich (Hilton Head Island), tied for sixth, women’s division; Caleb Sturgeon (Laurens), tied for eighth, men’s; and Amada Hall (Tega Cay), tied for ninth, women’s. ...

Golf 20/20, a collaboration of leading organizations that represents all segments of the golf industry, reports that golf’s economic impact in the U.S. in 2011 reached $68.8 billion. The findings are based on core segments such as facility operation, supplies, capital investment and tournaments, and enabled categories such as real estate, hospitality and tourism.

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