Nolan hoping course knowledge can give GB&I the edge over the US

Ronan MacNamara

Liam Nolan (Photo by Oisin Keniry/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Rónán MacNamara at the Old Course

Walker Cup debutant Liam Nolan believes familiar surroundings can help tip the scales in Great Britain and Ireland’s favour as they bid to arrest a run of three straight defeats to the USA in the biennial contest at the Home of Golf.

Stuart Wilson’s side should know the Old Course at St Andrews like the back of their hand given they play the St Andrews Links Trophy every year and it proved a crucial selection event for this year’s GB&I team. Galway’s Nolan feels course experience could spook the Americans who may not be able to acclimatise to the bouncy links turf and quirky greens.


“All of us in the team play so much links golf,” said Nolan, winner of the Brabazon Trophy earlier this year and the South American Amateur Championship. “We either grew up on links golf or play it all year long really. We just have to go out and do the exact same things we usually do.

“With the experience we have in the team and on the golf course I think that could be enough to get us over the line.”

Nolan, who will be supported by members travelling over from his home club in Galway, added, “I’ve heard the crowds here are going to be really big, so I’m really looking forward to hearing a Great Britain and Ireland crowd – and especially around the home of golf, there’s no better place for it.”

Wilson, who captains GB&I for the second time after leading the team in a narrow 14-12 defeat at Seminole in 2021, hopes that home advantage will bolster his side’s chances of reclaiming the famous trophy. The last win for the hosts came in 2015 at Royal Lytham & St Annes when GB&I won 16½-9½ at the famous Lancashire links.

Wilson said, “The history of the Walker Cup tells us that the United States of America will always be favourites, but certainly since the mid-1990s, home advantage has really come into play. It’s just not golf, it’s any sport – home advantage is a big thing. It’s definitely something we will play on and look to put to our advantage. The guys certainly feel comfortable out there.

“I know there will be a strong contingent visiting from the United States given the historical connection of the match and that it’s been 100 years since it was first played in St Andrews, but I’m hoping that there is a strong local crowd as well. I’m sure St Andrews, Fife and Scotland will come and turn out for it.”

Laytown & Bettystown star Alex Maguire won the St Andrews Links Trophy here in June and he could play a crucial role.

“Winning here was probably the best weekend of my life. Again, that photo down on Swilcan Bridge a few months ago was a photo that will never be beaten, but I think regardless if I won or not, coming back to St Andrews, like Calum said, is so special.

“You take for granted as players getting to play the Links Trophy, you take for granted how cool it is here and how like people all over the world want to come here and play a round of golf, and we’re able to do it for free this week and represent our home country.

“Yeah, winning here gives me a few more better feelings.”


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