The Palmer Cup
In 1997 Arnold Palmer was approached by the Golf Coaches Association of America regarding lending his name to an international collegiate event between the United States and Great Britain and Ireland. The event would use a Ryder Cup-style format and bring together the top eight collegiate players in the United States against their counterparts from GB&I. Palmer, a former collegiate player himself, has been called America’s greatest Ambassador for the game of golf. With his blessing and the support of the Arnold Palmer Golf Company, the inaugural event was played at his own Bay Hill Club in Florida in June 1997.
“I had long thought that an international competition such as this would enrich the lives of young men through the universal bond of the great game of golf. This year is particularly significant since it comes on the centennial anniversary of the founding of golf on the college level,” said Mr. Palmer.
Great venues have highlighted the competition since its inception in 1997. After Bay Hill, the Palmer Cup was next contested in Scotland in 1998 on the Old and New Courses at St. Andrews. In subsequent years the matches have been played at such historic venues as The Honors Course, Royal Liverpool, Baltusrol, Doonbeg, Cassique, Ballybunion, Whistling Straits-The Irish, Prestwick, Caves Valley, Glasgow Golf Club Gailes Links, Cherry Hills, Royal Portrush Golf Club, The Stanwich Club, Royal Country Down Golf Club, Wilmington Country Club and, most recently, Walton Heath Golf Club in 2014.
Upon conclusion of the 2002 event at Doonbeg in Ireland, a decision was made to alter the team composition by including European players with those from Great Britain and Ireland. The affects of this decision has significantly changed the Palmer Cup in its international appeal and competitiveness of the matches. Teams were expanded to 10 players each starting in 2013. Currently the United States leads the all-time series 9-8-1.
The list of outstanding collegians that have participated include such names as; Luke Donald, Rory Sabbatini, Russell Henley, Charles Howell, III, Jonas Blixt, Jonathan Byrd, Ben Curtis, 2009 U.S. Open Champion Lucas Glover, Bryce Molder, 2010 U.S. Open Champion Graeme McDowell, Bill Haas, Hunter Mahan, Ryan Moore, D.J. Trahan, Alejandro Canazares, Gonzalo Castano, J.B. Holmes, 2006 USGA Amateur Champion Richard Ramsey, Open de Portugal winner Pablo Martin, Dustin Johnson, and Billy Horschel.