Annual competition developing its own history
As with many of life’s worthwhile endeavors, the PNGA Cup had a serendipitous beginning.
Dr. Jack Lamey, who in the early 2000s was serving on the PNGA board of directors, was visiting Idaho in 2004 and played golf at The Valley Club in Hailey, Idaho as the guest of a friend. Lamey had won the PNGA Senior Men’s Amateur in 2001, and his friend and playing partner that day in Idaho was Dave Cropper, who was the reigning Idaho Senior Men’s Amateur champion.
“We started talking about how enjoyable it was to play with other good players from around the region,” Lamey says, “with people we might hear about but often don’t actually get to meet or play with. And we started talking about the few opportunities we’ve had to compete with and against other top players or to get to know them as friends, and about how much we enjoyed team competitions because it gave us a chance for that kind of camaraderie.”
Idaho has the Carter Cup, while Washington and Oregon have the Hudson Cup, both being Ryder Cup-style competitions that field the finest amateurs teaming up against the region’s PGA professionals. Cropper had played in previous Carter Cups, while Lamey had competed for the amateur team in nine Senior Hudson Cups.
When Lamey returned to Seattle, he presented the idea to the PNGA of creating a similar type of team competition among the four golf associations under the PNGA umbrella – Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia and Washington.
John Bodenhamer, who was then the PNGA executive director, loved the idea, and he left it to his director of rules and competition, Troy Andrew, to work with Lamey in organizing the first event. Andrew, who would go on to succeed Bodenhamer as executive director, came up with the idea of having the current presidents of each association be the captain of their respective teams.
“That really completed the goal we had for the event,” Lamey says. “We wanted the PNGA Cup to provide an opportunity for the associations to connect on all levels. So now, from each association we had the players, we had the executive directors, and we had the presidents. Yes, we wanted to create an enjoyable competition, but underneath it all was the desire to foster collaboration among the PNGA family.”
Eighteen months after Lamey’s conversation with Cropper, the first PNGA Cup was held at Seattle Golf Club on May 3-5, 2006. Jim Dunlap of Team OGA struck the first tee shot in the opening match. Cropper competed for Team IGA, and Lamey served as the event’s chairman.
The annual PNGA Cup rotates throughout the region each year, returning to Seattle Golf Club for the first time on May 2-4, 2018. The two-day competition includes four-ball and foursome matches the first day, followed by singles matches the second day. Each of the four associations – OGA, IGA, WSGA and BC Golf – selects a 12-person team to represent them, which includes four mid-amateur men, two mid-master men, two senior men, two mid-amateur women, and two senior women.
With both men’s and women’s scores used to determine the team result, it is the only known event of its kind in the U.S.
At each PNGA Cup, the current PNGA president presides over the opening night’s president’s dinner, gives the welcome address at the players’ dinner the following night, and serves as the starter on the first tee for each of the matches.
Mary O’Donnell, now in her final year as PNGA president, recalls her first PNGA Cup, held in 2016 at Richmond (B.C.) Country Club. “I had just been elected president the week before,” she says. “It was exciting to watch the matches, and the interaction of everyone. There was such a buzz in the air. You could easily see the benefit of people getting to know one another.”
O’Donnell continued, saying, “We need to really understand the uniqueness of the PNGA. It is a pure 501c3 non-profit entity, whose sole purpose is to serve as an umbrella association in support of the region’s golf associations. There really is no other golf association in the country quite like the PNGA.”
Lamey, who would later serve as PNGA president and still serves on its board of directors, summed up his feelings about the event. “It has become everything we hoped it would be. It’s about competition, camaraderie, and cooperation.”
And it’s about history. In last year’s PNGA Cup, held at TimberStone Golf Course in Caldwell, Idaho, Tom Brandes of Team WSGA squared off against Doug Roxburgh of Team BC, the first time two PNGA Hall of Famers had faced each other in the matches.
Also last year, another PNGA Hall of Famer, Alison Murdoch of Team BC, squared off against Karen Darrington of Team IGA. Caddying for Darrington was Jean Smith, also in the Hall of Fame.