Story by Brayden Conover
The Arnold Palmer Cup is a collegiate golf event hosted by the Golf Coaches Association of America, in conjunction with Arnie’s Army. The Ryder Cup-esqe event features 48 of the best American and International collegiate golfers. Along with the growing popularity of collegiate golf, the event is growing too, but it still flies under the radar of even the most hardcore golf fans.
In 1997, the GCAA approached Arnold Palmer about creating an event that showcased the best collegiate golfers. The event originally took eight of the best male golfers from the United States against eight of the best from Great Britain & Ireland. The inaugural Arnold Palmer Cup was hosted at Bay Hill Club, Mr. Palmer’s home golf course. In 2003, the event expanded to encompass not just GB&I but the entire continent of Europe. In 2010, the Arnold Palmer Cup expanded to 10 American men vs 10 European men. Last year, the event grew once more to include the best collegiate women and broadened to include the entire world.
Former APC participant, University of Oklahoma and 2018 Team USA head coach, Ryan Hybl said, “I had a phenomenal squad… If you fast forward 10 years from now there will probably be some Ryder Cuppers, President Cup guys and potentially some of the same pairings that we used (in 2018).”
The list of alumnus from the event are long and prestigious. Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, the list goes on. 122 competitors have gone on to earn their PGA, European or LPGA tour cards. 57 Arnold Cup players have tallied 228 victories worldwide on the PGA and European Tours including seven Major winners. 28 APC players have been selected to Ryder Cup teams.
Although women were introduced into the event just last year, the impact that the 24 women have made over the past year is awe-in-spiring .
Jennifer Kupcho, a Wake Forest senior and 2018 APC Team USA member, won the inaugural Augusta Women’s Amateur Championship held at Augusta National (the site of The Masters). Runner up at the ANWA, Maria Fassi was a member of the International team in 2018.
In the LPGA’s first major of the year, the ANA Inspiration, a total of four APC alum made the cut with Kristen Gillman finishing tied for sixth.
Susan Rosenstiel, University of Alabama Assistant Women’s Golf Coach, said ,“It’s an exciting time in women’s amateur golf... The addition of some television coverage is now drawing viewers from all over the globe to see what the future of golf holds.”
The inclusion of women into the event proves as a win-win to all parties involved.
Ireland native and Arizona State junior, Olivia Mehaffey says that the APC is, “ ...a huge moment for female amateur golf... It really puts our sport on a higher podium.”
With the event playing mixed matches, both the men and women get to compete with each other, often for the first time in a tournament setting.
“Playing mixed matches was such a fun experience. I know who many of the girls were on my team but I don’t think I had ever been able to play with any of them before. It was fun to see to get to play with some of the best women’s golfers in the world,” said Brad Dalke, an Oklahoma senior and a 2018 Team USA member.
“We don’t get to play with the men very much,” Mehaffey said, “getting to see their game was very cool and very impressive!”
The selection process of the teams is based off World Amateur Golf Rankings as well as two coaches’ picks. This allows the APC to be one of the most elite golf events in the world, showcasing 48 of the best amateur golfers worldwide. There is simply no other golf event at the amateur level like it. The most comparable of golf events would be the PGA Tour’s World Golf Championships. There are four WGC events a year and exclusive to golfers ranked in the top 64-100 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Although, the competition is what grabs the public’s attention, the core of the Arnold Palmer Cup is to carry on Mr. Palmer’s legacy and keep the values that he brought to the game of golf alive. Since Mr. Palmer’s passing in 2016, the event has ensured that each golfer chosen understands what they must do to live up to Mr. Palmer’s expectations that he held himself and others to.
Three-time APC participant and Texas A&M senior, Chandler Phillips said, “Mr. Palmer’s legacy means so much to how I go about everything in life. Everything he said was most important in life and how people to remember you.”
Mr. Palmer’s legacy is paramount to the event as the event continues to share the values he carried on and off the course throughout his life. The sentiment of what it means to be named a part of the APC resonates with everyone chosen.
“I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Palmer a few times at Bay Hill and for what he represents, the love of the game and the love of people, I would always cherish those moments . So, being part of his legacy at the APC in Evian was one of the highlights of my career,” TCU assistant and 2018 International assistant coach, Adrien Mork said.
Oklahoma State sophomore and 2018 APC Team USA member, Matthew Wolff shares the same opinion: “Mr. Palmer’s
legacy is something that very few golfers can even come close to. We all look up to him as a role model and someone that
you should try to be like on and off the course.”
This years Arnold Palmer Cup will be hosted by The Alotian Club, just 30 minutes Northwest of Little Rock,Arkansas June 7-9. The event will feature competitors from six continents and 20 countries. USA will look to improve upon their 12-9-1 record and retain the Cup for a second straight year.
For more information and tickets go to arnoldpalmercup.com