This year’s Walker Cup will be a centennial celebration at St. Andrews. One hundred years ago, the second edition of the biennial competition between the United States and a team from Great Britain and Ireland was contested over the Old Course. And the two events a century apart nearly had a former Iowa Amateur champion involved.
Mike McCoy of Des Moines, who played on the 2015 Walker Cup team and is the 2023 captain, won the Iowa Amateur six times.
After being an alternate in 1922, Rudy Knepper of Sioux City was named to the 1923 Walker Cup team on Feb. 15, 2023. According to a story in the Des Moines Register the following day, “Rudy has petitioned the board of directors of Princeton University, where he is a student, for a leave of absence which it is believed will be granted.”
But Knepper, who won the Iowa Amateur for a third straight year in 1922 and also won the Trans-Mississippi championship that summer, was denied that waiver by Princeton and had to withdraw from the competition. The same thing happened to Bobby Jones, whose waiver request was turned down by Georgia Tech.
McCoy is the second Iowan to represent his country in the competition as a player and captain. Dr. Edgar Updegraff of Boone played on Walker Cup teams in 1963, 1965 and 1969. He served as captain in 1975.
Clark Burroughs, who attended high school in Waterloo, played on the 1985 Walker Cup team.
The Walker Cup of one of the four elite team events in golf. The others are the Ryder Cup, the Curtis Cup and the Solheim Cup.
Zach Johnson of Cedar Rapids will become the first Iowan to captain a Ryder Cup team when the United States squares off against Europe in Rome Sept. 29-Oct. 1. Johnson is also the only Iowan to represent his country as a player in the Ryder Cup, making the team in 2006, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016.
The Curtis Cup, like the Walker Cup, brings together the nation’s elite amateur players. Lucile Robinson Mann of Des Moines played on the 1934 team. Ann Casey Johnstone of Mason City was selected three times, in 1958, 1960 and 1962. Phyllis Otto Germain of Atlantic was named to the team in 1946. But that competition was not held because of World War II.
No Iowan has ever played in the Solheim Cup, but the state does have a connection to the event. The 2017 Solheim Cup was played at the Des Moines Golf and Country Club.