Ross Township resident Nathan Smith has had an accomplished amateur career and in March, he was recognized as the 2025 United States Walker Cup captain.
Smith, is a four-time Masters qualifier, three times a Walker Cup participant, a four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champ and has 16 triumphs as an amateur.
“I feel like everything I am, is because of the USGA,” Smith said. “They’ve been amazing through the years. To get this call to be a captain is the biggest honor you can ever ask for. I am thrilled and blown away.”
For those who are unfamiliar with the Walker Cup, it pits the United States against Great Britain and Ireland and is essentially an amateur version of the Ryder Cup.
Smith’s appointment is unique as rarely are the next two captains for the same event laid out at the same time.
Mike McCoy was given the same honor for 2023. Smith’s 2025 appointment gives him ample time to prepare.
For Smith, he is pleased not to have to wait another 20 years and as an active competitor, aged 43 himself, it helps when it comes to relate to today’s younger golfers, many of whom he presumes will be 18 to 22 years old when they tee it up.
“I’ll have a chance to prepare and maybe do it a different way,” said Smith. “I’ll still be on the amateur circuit and be around the guys, but maybe in the next year or two, show up to more junior tournaments because chances are that is where the majority of your team will be. It will be a cool way to do it and pump some life into junior golf.”
The event itself will be held at Cypress Point Club at Pebble Beach, a course which Smith has never played. Smith has been able to tee it up at other notable courses in the area, including Pebble Beach itself, Spyglass Hill, Monterrey Peninsula Country Club and The Links at Spanish Bay.
The extended time before his captaincy allows for Smith to see more than still images and hear more than word of mouth.
He plans to visit and play the course with some individuals from the USGA this summer. This also will provide an opportunity to make several relationships with potential contacts.
“You can plan some things out with practice squad events and places that might set up well for your team to get them ready for that,” he said. “It’s incredible and I can’t wait to get out there. I joked that if I can play it then I can hit it in all the bad spots and tell the guys where not to hit it.”
From a local perspective, Smith has maintained a very good relationship with World Golf Hall of Famer Carol Semple Thompson, a Sewickley native, and the two decorated amateurs have exchanged emails and phone calls, which only continued upon this announcement.
Smith plans on golfing with Thompson over the summer and also will pick her brain as another avenue towards potentially achieving success in 2025.
In terms of a playing schedule, Smith will play the Sunnehanna Amateur in Johnstown, which he won in 2011, and the U.S. Mid-Amateur and will also be present at the U.S. Amateur, but it remains to be seen if that will be in a playing capacity or as a spectator.
As a captain, Smith wants to find his own voice but has no problem sampling ideas from others.
For instance, one of his Walker Cup captains, Buddy Marucci, played all summer with his teams and in Smith’s opinion, this decision proved advantageous in that he got to know the team and also feel like one of the guys.
“I’d like to do some of that, but I’m not going to say I’m going to run the gauntlet with every event,” said Smith. “I’ll sprinkle in some tournaments and play a few here and there to try and be out more.”
Now Smith’s work begins, but at the same time he is hoping to find fun beyond winning the Walker Cup.
“We’re going to represent USA the right way and make our country proud win, lose or draw,” he said. “For me, I’m completely honored and humbled with them giving me the nod.
“It’s an incredible honor you can share with your family and friends, and everyone going out to be a part of it. All we need is to put the team together.”