Sport Walker Cup: Is this the last hurrah for Stewart Hagestad?
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JUNO BEACH, Fla. – When Stewart Hagestad was asked how Seminole Golf Club, site of this week’s 48th Walker Cup, has stood the test of time, he answered simply, “Awfully well.”
The same could be said for how Hagestad’s game has stood up against “the kids,” as he calls his teammates on the 10-man U.S. side. At 30, Hagestad is the old man on the team – the next oldest player is Quade Cummins at 25 years old with the rest of the college-aged team ranging from 20-22 – and he credits having younger brothers that are in college for his ability to relate.
“I’ve never felt marginalized as a senior citizen on the team, so to speak,” Hagestad said.
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His game has aged incredibly well. Hagestad, winner of the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, ranks No. 17 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and he reached the round of 16 at last year’s U.S. Amateur, earning him a spot on a third straight U.S. Walker Cup team. In an age where some of the top elite amateurs skip the Walker Cup altogether to get a head start on chasing PGA Tour dreams, Hagestad is certainly of a dying breed, if not the last of The Mohicans. And it prompted the question: Is this his last hurrah at the Walker Cup?
“The honest answer is I don’t know,” Hagestad said at Walker Cup media day in late March. “As much fun as working or right now getting my MBA for eight months and then playing golf for four months is, it’s not a sustainable practice.”
Nathaniel Crosby brings a deep American squad to Seminole for Walker Cup
JUNO BEACH, Fla. – Nathaniel Crosby has just the squad he wanted this week for a backyard version of the Walker Cup. Crosby, 59 and returning as captain for the U.S. side this week at Seminole Golf Club (where he’s a member), logged many miles in scouting this team.…“There weren’t any awkward moments,” he said of the selection process.
A Newport Beach, California resident, Hagestad has accomplished his goal of making another team and said he needs to reassess and create new goals if the fire remains in the belly to put in the work to mount another Walker Cup campaign. He’s quick to point out to anyone that asks that a lot of time, effort and personal sacrifice went into making this team.
“You spend essentially two years of your life – for this one a little less, call it 21 months – but it’s every decision you make, not just the time you’re competing,” he explained. “I would love to have gone skiing with friends this, year but you’re not going to do that. A huge first-world problem, I know, but every little decision you make. At a certain point you think about other things you want to accomplish in your life. There’s a reason I didn’t turn pro. I’d like to leave a much more lasting impact than how many Walker Cups did you play in?”
Tyler Strafaci withdraws before Walker Cup match after becoming sick on driving range
JUNO BEACH, FLA. – Tyler Strafaci decided to wait until next week to turn professional because he wanted to play in the 48th Walker Cup at Seminole Golf Club. But Strafaci had to withdraw from his singles match just before his tee time Saturday when he became…But Strafaci had to withdraw from his singles match just before his tee time Saturday when he became the latest golfer to be hit by the stomach virus that has marred this Walker Cup. The reigning U.S. Amateur champion was scheduled to play Ben Jones at 3:03 p.m. ET when he had to withdraw after becoming sick on the range.
As Hagestad noted, the more Walker Cups one plays, the harder it is to retain a position on the team. A future goal won’t be to set the all-time record for most appearances. “No one is touching Jay Sigel (who made his eighth and final appearance for the U.S. in 1993) and Joe Carr (11),” he said. “The poster on the wall so to speak that I had for myself was Nathan (Smith). He’s got a major on me (U.S. Amateur Four-Ball), I’ve tied him in Walker Cups (2009,’11,’13) and he has (won) three more Mid-Ams (2003, ‘09, 2010, ’12), which is wild.”
Hagestad is the rare young talent who never turned pro. After graduating from Southern Cal, he moved to New York City, worked at a pair of real-estate investment firms while earning 2016 Met Golf Association Player of the Year honors and is in the process of earning his MBA at USC’s Marshall Business School for what he called “a sense of academic legitimacy.”
“In today’s world you kind of have to have a CPA/CFA or MBA,” he explained.
In between exams, Hagestad will provide much more than just veteran leadership to Team USA, though he’s more than capable in that department too. Of his younger teammates, he said, “If they need a pat on the back, I can give them one. If they need a kick in the back, I can do that too.”
Seminole caddie Brent 'Shakes' Carlson soaking in Walker Cup experience: 'It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event'
JUNO BEACH, Fla. – A good caddie does his work quietly, leaving his mark only on his player’s improved scorecard. Brent Carlson, a.k.a “Shakes,” is a good caddie – one of the best at Seminole Golf Club – but he has left his work all over the course for this weekend’s 48th Walker Cup matches. In addition to caddying for U.S. veteran Stewart Hagestad, Shakes, er Carlson, took it upon himself to build Walker Cup-themed tee boxes that adorn Seminole’s four par-3 holes. The tee boxes, which feature flags from the United States, Great Britain and Ireland, contain small tees to be used on the shorter holes and a place to discard the broken ones.
While this could be Hagestad’s final Walker Cup as a player, it seems inevitable that he’ll be chosen as team captain someday, following in the footsteps of Buddy Marucci, and his former skippers John “Spider” Miller and Nathaniel Crosby, who is back for a second term this week. Tripp Kuehne and Nathan Smith, who were the consummate amateur champs before him, likely will come first but Hagestad’s smile brightened at the thought of someday being at the helm of a Walker Cup team.
“It would be the highest honor in amateur golf,” he said. “I look at Nathaniel, Buddy, Spider, these are icons of amateur golf, guys I’ve looked up to my entire golf life. It’s a very special thing even to be mentioned in that conversation.”
But the captaincy is down the road and there’s time to reevaluate and figure out where marriage, a family and leaving his mark in the business world fit with his future in amateur golf. For now, Hagestad is focused on sharing his experiences from 2017 and 2019 Walker Cups with the new members of his team.
“It’s really cool to be on a Walker Cup team but it’s a helluva lot cooler to be on a winning Walker Cup team,” he said.MORE:
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