It was at the 2005 Walker Cup Match at Chicago Golf Club that the idea first popped into Jimmy Dunne’s head. While walking the fairways with his young son, taking in the competition, the golf course and the overall vibe, he wondered if the event someday might be played at Seminole Golf Club.
After all, he thought to himself, if Cypress Point Club and Pine Valley Golf Club could host the biennial match between America’s best amateurs and their counterparts from Great Britain & Ireland, and if Chicago GC could handle it, why not Seminole, where Dunne (above) was a proud member?
It was a few years later, in summer 2013, on a flight with USGA chief executive officer Mike Davis that the idea took root. Davis asked Dunne, the president of Seminole, if there was any possibility that Seminole might entertain the notion of the Walker Cup being played at the storied Donald Ross-designed course in Juno Beach, Fla.
Dunne was incredulous. “Do you really think we could?” he asked. Davis nodded his head.
Dunne asked for 24 hours. The next day he called Davis with a simple message: “Let's do it.”
So that fall, while the match was being contested at the National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y., Dunne visited off site with Davis and then-USGA Championship Committee chair Tom O’Toole to advance the notion.
Weeks later, Seminole won the nod. Arguably one of the greatest golf courses in the world, one that includes as members, numerous former American Walker Cup players and captains, had agreed to host what many consider to be the finest amateur competition in the world, in May 2021. Karma, some might call it.
The 2021 match was to become a bit of an unveiling of a golf course many have heard of but few have seen.
There was an interesting wrinkle still to occur. When Seminole was announced (in December 2016) as a Walker Cup venue, the USGA simultaneously named Cypress Point as the 2025 site. I observed at the time that a bunch of teenagers on both sides of the Atlantic just had their world rocked, and they didn’t even know it.
The 2021 match was to become a bit of an unveiling of a golf course many have heard of but few have seen. Tucked away in a private residential community, Seminole is a private club. Historically it has kept to itself and not sought notoriety. But the 2021 match would be different, as Fox Sports would televise it.
But then COVID-19 hit and everything changed. NBC Sports approached the club about a one-day fundraising event featuring four PGA Tour players, all of whom had endorsement agreements with TaylorMade Golf. Ordinarily, Seminole would be closed by mid-May, but it didn’t take Dunne long to agree to host it.
“We hope to bring a little joy to the golf world and raise some money for a great cause,” he told GGP last week.
Many viewers around the world will get their first look at this Ross masterpiece. Among those sure to be watching are those teenagers I referenced from 2016, some now elite amateurs, who dream of playing in the 2021 Walker Cup Match, an idea that was hatched 16 years before the competition by a guy wandering the fairways with his young son in tow.