Caves Valley worth look by Walker Cup

John Steadman

March 04, 1991|By John Steadman

There's an international golf extravaganza, the tradition-rich Walker Cup, scheduled to be played in 1993, that needs to be fitted into the proper American setting. Why not Baltimore, at the spectacular new Caves Valley Club? The door has been opened because the old and distinguished Chicago Golf Club, which was to be the host, refused to alter its membership policy regarding minorities.

The sponsoring U.S. Golf Association must now make another selection. Again, Caves Valley is a possibility, despite the fact the Walker Cup historically is held on established courses. Caves Valley, which is scheduled to open this June, offers all the exceptional prerequisites and its owners, Les Disharoon and Andre Brewster, will be ecstatic if they get a nod from the Walker Cup.

Dennis Satyshur, the club professional, said, "This is world-class. It's going to happen. The question is when. The course lends itself to this type of event. A great natural setting, in the Maryland countryside, with an immense area for parking. It'll be a distinct honor for Caves Valley if it's considered."

USGA leaders, who have a probable deadline of June to pick a new course for the Walker Cup, will be overwhelmed if they can be induced to visit Caves Valley. This, quite naturally, is the hope of Disharoon, Brewster and Satyshur -- that the USGA make an inspection.

Reg Murphy, a vice president of the USGA and high-ranking member of its executive committee, is aware of the Caves Valley interest. "The possibility is there," he said, "but it's problematical because it's a new course."

Still Murphy, chairman of the board of The Baltimore Sun, says, "This is one of the things you dream about bringing to your town." But he's not able to make a promise. "From the Caves Valley viewpoint," said Satyshur, "having Reg Murphy aware of our interest is what's important at this time. There is no better man to lead us to this kind of a promised land."

If Caves Valley proved itself with a Walker Cup, providing it was able to convince the USGA to give it the chance, it would be placed in position to do even more at a later date. The 1999 U.S. Open will commemorate the centennial anniversary of when it was played at the Baltimore Country Club in 1899, won by Willie Smith for the grand prize of $650.

So it would be a momentous achievement for Baltimore to again host a U.S. Open. Before that can happen, the USGA would want to see how one of its other tournaments was conducted and received. The capabilities and possibilities are unlimited.

The Walker Cup received high marks when it was here in 1965, with Jack Emich as chairman and Baltimore Country Club as host. It was the only time -- in a competition that evolved into a biennial meeting, since 1922, between England and the United States -- that it ended in a tie.

Walker Cup play has included some of America's elite golfers. Names such as Bobby Jones, Jess Sweetser, Francis Ouimet, Lawson Little, Skee Riegel, Smiley Quick, Charles Coe, Dick Chapman, Harvie Ward, Ken Venturi, Gene Littler, Billy Joe Patton, Bill Campbell, Bill Hyndman III, Tommy Aaron, Deane Beman and Jack Nicklaus dot its honor roll.

It's a prestigious presentation. Bob Sommers, a former golf writer for The Evening Sun, now an official at USGA headquarters, said there are no indications of where the 1993 Walker Cup will be played. "The tendency is to go to established clubs, such places as Pine Valley, The Country Club, Cypress Point and the National Links," he said.

Yes, but Caves Valley is quickly going to become established as one of the nation's premier courses and its imposing presence -- even now, before a single round has been played over what was once the estate of Charles Carroll -- almost defies the imagination. The architecture and the general layout, despite being new, already moves it into a class by itself.

If Caves Valley or any club in the Baltimore metropolitan area, such as Five Farms or Hillendale, steps forth to ask for consideration to play the role of host, it's an opportunity that should be pursued to the ultimate. The sport in Baltimore deserves to be elevated. The Walker Cup would create this kind of attention. Go for it.

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