What To Look Out For In Amateur Golf In 2022

29th December 2021

Rather than look backwards with a 2021 review I thought it may be more interesting to look ahead to what 2022 holds in store for us.

Here are some thoughts that popped into my head: –

1. A return to some semblance of normality would be nice with easier international travel helping field strengths, particularly outside of USA, recover to pre-COVID 19 levels.

2. What impact will the new Rules of Amateur Status, that come into effect on 1st January 2022, have. Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) rules for NCAA student athletes were also lifted in 2021 in some U.S. states. Amateur golfers will now be able to receive non-performance related advertising and sponsorship. With no obvious Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson on the scene who, if anyone, will be the first to strike it rich ?

3. Identifying the next GB&I golfing stars remains one of the key benefits of following amateur golf.

How much better can Hannah Darling and Caley McGinty get ? Both were amongst the 15 players included in The Annika Award Final Fall Watch List after making strong starts to the 2021/22 U.S. College golf season.

I know they’re already close but can English trio, Sam Bairstow, Alex Fitzpatrick and John Gough, push on into the top draw of world amateur golf ?

Can Peter O’Keeffe, who won the Irish Men’s Amateur Open and Close championships in 2021, continue his rich vein of form ?

Will one of the Scottish players like Callum Bruce or Callum Scott break through in 2022 ? Can Sandy Scott get back to his best and finally get over his wrist injury ?

James Ashfield, Archie Davies and Luke Harries have been raising the profile of Welsh amateur golf.

How will our leading juniors Jack Bigham, Connor Graham and Harley Smith play in 2022 ?

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Peter O’Keeffe (Photo: Niall O’Shea)

4. How many events will the world’s most active amateur golfer, Jack Brooks, play in this year ?

5. Following the amateurs who are fortunate enough to compete in professional events and major championships is always good fun.

Louise Duncan winning the Smyth Salver at the AIG Women’s British Open at Carnoustie with Lauren Walsh and Annabell Fuller also making the cut, along with 15 year old Frank Kennedy making the cut at the European Tour’s Hero Open also in Scotland, were 2021 highlights.

Josh Hill starts the ball rolling for us playing in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on the DP World Tour in January 2022 having earned an exemption by winning the 2021 Abu Dhabi Amateur Championship.

Laird Shepherd taking on Augusta National in April follows soon after.

Based on past experiences an Open Championship at St. Andrews also bodes well for the amateurs in July.

6. The release of the golf film The Phantom of the Open in April. Sir Mark Rylance playing Maurice Flitcroft has got to be worth watching as no doubt will be the over the top portrayal of harassed R&A officials.

7. Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s G.C. is going to be in the news. The 56th Lytham Trophy in late April will take on greater importance with the 127th Amateur Championship being played at the same venue a few weeks later in June.

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Royal Lytham & St. Annes G.C. (Photo: GolfBible)

8. A competitive 42nd Curtis Cup women’s international match against USA would be good for the game. Elaine Radcliffe’s GB&I team put up a great fight in Conwy last summer and the match returns quickly to the schedule in June 2022 at the historic Merion G.C.

9. With the 2020 match cancelled due to COVID-19 the St. Andrews Trophy men’s international match between GB&I and the Continent of Europe returns in Slovakia in July. An away win for GB&I would be a confidence booster.

10. Fingers crossed no overseas player wins the closed amateur championship of a home nation this year !

11. Ireland defending the Men’s Home Internationals they won in spectacular fashion at Hankley Common at Ballyliffen. The Women’s Home Internationals is also being played concurrently at the superb Donegal complex in August 2022.

12. Improved performances and results from our junior international teams are needed. GB&I were thrashed in both the Jacques Léglise Trophy (16.5-8.5) and Junior Vagliano Trophy (14-4) matches against Continent of Europe in 2021. This year will see both matches played together at Blairgowrie G.C. in August.

13. A return for the World Amateur Team Championships, the women’s Espirito Santo Trophy and the men’s Eisenhower Trophy in Paris, France in late August is something to look forward to. Selection of the three woman and man teams by each of the home nations will be keenly contested.

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Denmark With The Eisenhower Trophy In 2018 (Photo: USGA / Steven Gibbons)

14. Some Walker Cup news – we can expect to hear The R&A’s 2027 home venue (Royal Birkdale or Royal St. George’s seem due to me) as well as the announcement of USA’s new team captain.

15. How Jack Bigham, Daniel Bullen, Cormac Sharpe, Beth Coulter, Rachel Gourley, Olivia Lee, Harriet Lockley, Patience Rhodes and Lottie Woad get on when they start playing U.S. college golf in September.

16. Further enhancements to the World Amateur Golf Ranking can be hoped for. The survival of the currently more accurate (albeit men only) Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking, where Fred Solomon its proprietor is looking to stand down / sell up, is arguably more important.

17. Wishful thinking on my part but an end to mixed gender competitions would be nice. I have no problem with completely new events, like the inaugural English U18 Championship played at Farnham in June 2021. I’m all for more events for both sexes individually and am happy for them to be played concurrently (which appears to be becoming the norm), but I am still to be convinced there is a need for boys to play directly against girls (from separate tees to supposedly make scores comparable – something that’s easier said than done by the way), particularly where some well established events are being altered to accommodate this field change.

18. Following the transition of amateurs to the paid ranks. Note: it doesn’t get any easier to make a living playing professional golf. Hopefully the DP World Tour will be able to reinstate it’s Q-School having cancelled it in 2020 or 2021. Nevertheless newly turned pros are still finding away to move forward in the game. Stuart Easton, Darren Howie and Haider Hussain all finished in the top 30 at the PGA EuroPro Tour’s Q-School to secure Category 3 cards for the 2022 season. Ben Schmidt, Stuart Easton (again) and James Sugrue secured full Category 6 cards at the Alps Tour Q-School to also continue their own particular journeys.

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2022, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “What To Look Out For In Amateur Golf In 2022

  1. Well done Mark – You have raised all sorts of points of interest – Thank you so much.

    Where would we be without you?………..Nowhere!

    Have a very Happy and Healthy New Year.

    Philip

    St Andrews in July? – Let me know – I would love to give you lunch.

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