People in Golf - Peter McEvoy, OBE

The 64-year-old was born in London, but now resides in Ayrshire Scotland. Peter McEvoy was the two-time winner of the British Amateur Championship was a five-time member of the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup teams and was low amateur in The Open Championship in 1978 and 1979, and also named captain of the GB&I teams for the 1999 and 2001 Walker Cups, which won both times. This was the first time GB&I ever had consecutive wins in the event. He captained the victorious GB&I team for the 1998 Eisenhower Trophy tournament, making McEvoy the only person to win the individual event, the team event as player and the team event as a captain.
In 2002, he was named Chairman of the R&A Selection Committee, which chooses the members of the GB&I amateur teams competing in various international events - most notably the Walker Cup. McEvoy was awarded an OBE on the 2003 Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for “Services to golf.” In February, 2008, he devised and launched PowerPlayGolf, a shortened version of golf in a bid to create golf’s version of Twenty20 cricket. He is married to wife Helen and has four children -Cameron, Richard, Mary and Douglas.

The McEvoy Story -
I trained as a lawyer, but my love has always been for the game of golf. By today’s standards I started quite late at the game, not playing 18 holes until I was 14. I was more in love with rugby and cricket whilst at school. Once at University, I started to prioritise golf over rugby - and certainly over studying. My golfing career was one of steady progress and got a shot in the arm when I won the Amateur Championship in 1977. This opened up a world of opportunities, with invitations to the Masters and the Open.

I was just completing my legal studies when these opportunities came along, causing me to take some time out of academic work whilst trying to improve my playing standard in order to make the most of the experience.
These were slightly different times and there was no financial support through governing bodies or other grants or aid. As a result, I had to work through the winter to afford the trips to Augusta, etc. I was a removal man, an oven cleaner and spent weeks counting lorries on a motorway. I thought about the pro game, but upon completing my legal duties I set up a sports company, which has provided for me and my family over the past 37 years. We have managed players, run pro and amateur events, designed and built golf course all over the world. I have been a professional writer for a quarter of a century, an international player, captain and chairman of selectors, so one way and another I have experienced most aspects of the game I fell in love with 50 years ago.

You wake up in the morning – what is the driving passion for you now?

Tricky one that - it varies. I still enjoy work, so if I have something interesting on that tends to dominate. However, having not hit a practice ball for 25 years I have started to hit balls again - stimulated by moving house close to Royal Troon. The turf is a dream to hit off!

Most meaningful moment that happened by you when playing?

Team events are always better than individual. If you win as an individual, after the one minute ofexhilaration is over, there is no one to share the joy with (amongst players). Everyone else lost. Winning a Walker Cup, for example, is very different. The euphoria can last for days. So, winning the Walker Cup in Peachtree in 1989, the first win for GB&I on US soil.

Biggest disappointment when playing was what?

Probably losing in the semi final of the Amateur Championship in 1986 at Royal Lytham. I lost at the 19th. David Curry, who beat me went on to win 9 and 8 in the final. I also lost in the final in 1987. A toss up really between the two.

If you had a mulligan, what one situation would you like to try one more time?

I had an outside chance in the Open Championship in 1979. I was lying 4th, 4 shots behind, with 8 holes to go. I hit a nine iron straight at the flag at the 11th and it dropped short into a bunker - I took 6. Three holes later something similar happened for a double bogey off a good shot. I’d like two mulligans for those two irons hit with the wrong club. I rather limped in to finish 17th. I would have loved to have experienced contention over the last few holes of a major.

You captained two successive wins for GB&I in ‘99 and ‘01. What has been the key factor in creating a new parity between the sides since ‘95?

Our expectation level has been raised. We can probably thank Ryder Cup players for this, at least in part. US players no longer seem unbeatable. Once you think you have parity, you have parity.

It was suggested by American Captain Spider Miller that the Walker Cup has an expanded format to three days. What is your take on that?

I would resist this. There is a fairly continuous effort to get the amateur game to replicate the pro game. I have seen suggestions that four-balls should be introduced. To me, they may add entertainment value to the Ryder Cup, but the Walker Cup can still afford to put competitive purity before entertainment value.

You have had a long and storied career in amateur golf. If you had to name the five finest amateur players you competed against, who would they be?

Michael Bonallack- you are only as good as your record and his is the best. Jay Sigel - made himself a formidable competitor. Luke Donald - might as well have put the point down in our favour before he went out. Garth McGimpsey - a good friend but worthy adversary. Joe Carr - Ireland’s Michael Bonallack.
You can change one thing in golf unilaterally - what would be and why?

Asking for two things again, but they are related. I would like a change in the Rules of Amateur Status whereby young players were not forced in to the pro game as playing amateur golf is unaffordable. Also to reduce the influence of the World Amateur Golf Rankings - again this system forces young players to travel and play full time to acquire points. Ultimately this directs them in to the pro game even when in the overwhelming percentage of cases there is no hope of success. This scenario is much worse this side of the Atlantic where we do not have the protection of the college system.

Golf’s major organisations - R&A, USGA, PGA of America, PGA TOUR, LPGA - have all taken steps to attract players, most notably Millennials, women and minorities. If you were asked to provide your counsel on the subject what would you recommend be done?

Time is the major factor that influences participation. I do not think we can make a meaningful change to pace of play, we are trying as hard as possible now. So fewer hole formats or formats that require fewer shots is the only solution. Such initiatives are out there.

You have got one course to play - where do you play - and what three people play with you, whether alive or since deceased? 

I’d play Royal Troon - the greatest of all links. I would like to play with Bobby Jones, just to see what he and his golf was like. I would like to see Jimmy Bruen play as I have always been attracted to the unorthodox. My recently deceased father would make up the foursome - I think he would have liked that.