Global Golf Post is pleased to present our 10th All-Amateur team selections.
We take great pride, and equal joy, in supporting the global amateur game. Our All-Am selections, which began in 2013, are intended to recognize outstanding individual performance during the calendar year for male and female amateurs, mid-amateurs and seniors.
There are 100 players included in this year’s selections. The men’s and women’s amateur lists have 20 representatives, while the other four divisions each have 15 players. These special competitors comprise the best that amateur golf has to offer in 2023. It is particularly remarkable how 24 countries and 20 states are represented among the 100 players. The game truly is thriving around the world.
As we have done every year, GGP selected two individuals who stood out for their stellar play.
Our men’s amateur of the year is Nick Dunlap, and our women’s amateur of the year is Rose Zhang.
Dunlap arrived at the University of Alabama with outsized expectations based on his standing as the top junior golfer in the U.S. for the class of 2022. After weathering a wrist injury that impeded his freshman-year progress, Dunlap came alive in the spring and started to fulfill his potential in a major way. A dominant victory in the U.S. Amateur, combined with triumphs in the Linger Longer Invitational, Northeast Amateur, North and South Amateur and SEC Stroke Play highlighted his phenomenal season.
On the women’s side, it simply was no contest. Zhang won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and NCAA Championship, in addition to four other collegiate titles, before turning professional. It is rare for GGP to award amateur of the year to a player who leaves for professional golf after college – Zhang already is No. 26 in the Rolex Rankings and qualified for the U.S. Solheim Cup team – but her amateur accomplishments were robust and historic, in 2023 and earlier.
The people on this list love the game of golf. The real game of golf. The mid-ams and senior ams on this list drive and fly across the country, on their own dime, for no other reason than competition and camaraderie.
Here is how we made our selections for not just the amateurs of the year, but for all of our teams. We were guided mainly by results in events counting toward the World Amateur Golf Ranking. These lists that the WAGR produces, which are products of a partnership between the USGA and R&A, generally are acknowledged to be the best in the game. The primary metric was performance in national events with strong fields, as measured by the WAGR Power Method. Local play, while considered, was given less weight.
The amateur division consists of players who have yet to reach age 25. They are almost exclusively college players, many of whom are on the precipice of turning professional. As in Zhang’s case, we have honored some players who have already turned pro, but only their accomplishments as amateurs are considered in their selection. Similarly, junior golfers were considered based only on their achievements in “all ages” or collegiate tournaments.
To qualify for the men’s and women’s mid-am teams, the player must be at least 25 years old. Collegiate results, or accomplishments taking place before age 25, are not considered.
On the senior side, women must be 50 or older, and men must be 55 or older. These are USGA-recognized minimum ages for both divisions.
For all of our selections, we prepared a thumbnail sketch of what every competitor has accomplished in 2023. It is by no means a comprehensive description and, in almost all cases, there were a variety of other factors involved in the decision-making process. For all 60 of our first-team picks, we have offered a few lines to explain why that competitor was chosen.
I will leave you with one parting thought for why this matters so much to us.
The past few years in professional golf have revolved around money. The pages of this magazine have included much vitriol – from “sportswashing,” to bitter lawsuits, to players and executives angling themselves every which way to maximize profits.
It’s an important story featuring some people who care more about financial or political positioning than anything else. Certain people are using golf to get somewhere. It has been a bit soulless, you could say.
But the people on this list love the game of golf. The real game of golf. The mid-ams and senior ams on this list drive and fly across the country, on their own dime, for no other reason than competition and camaraderie. They want to beat one another and then go have a beer with their playing competitors in the clubhouse. They want to feel nervous on the first tee. They want to move their schedule around to hit balls on their lunch hour, just to get an edge heading into a tournament.
And although the elite amateur game is more professionalized than ever, every amateur on this list will tell you that his teammates matter more than anything else in golf. Ask the players who competed in the Walker Cup at St. Andrews how important that experience was to them.
Dunlap kept a golf ball from the inaugural Walker Cup on his nightstand and looked at it every day for more than a year before the competition.
“You're playing for more than yourself,” he said in the leadup to the match. “You're playing for your teammates, your captain, your coaches, your people at home, your family.”
That is amateur golf. It is playing the game for something more than yourself in pursuit of an unbridled and pure passion for competition, togetherness and sportsmanship. It is excelling against the odds, whether that is combating work-life balance or just the pure difficulty of this maddening game.
Today, we are celebrating the people who embody that spirit.