SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – On a team littered with 20-something All-Americans, it’s impossible to miss Todd White.
After all, he’s 45 years old. More than double the age of some of his teammates. The oldest U.S. Walker Cupper in a decade.
White teaches history, grades 10-12, at Hilton Head Island (S.C.) High School, but still maintains a healthy competitive schedule that saw him play in eight tournaments this season. And there was an extra incentive this year: Last December, the USGA informed players of a new rule that at least two mid-ams would be selected for the 2013 U.S. team. White wanted in.
“I’m a competitive person by nature,” he said, “and I really enjoy teeing it up and playing against the college guy, just to challenge myself.”
It didn’t take long for White to earn the respect of his younger teammates.
“I don’t see him as a 45-year-old guy,” said his foursomes partner, Michael Weaver, 22. “He relates really well to all of us. His background, being around kids a lot, makes him real comfortable around us, and we’re going to go out there and have fun.”
Said Max Homa, 22: “I don’t think of him as a history teacher. I think of him as a really good golfer who teaches history, because he’s dang good.”
White might be the most senior member of the U.S. team, but that doesn’t mean he’s the most experienced. That responsibility falls on Nathan Smith, 35, the four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion who is making his third Walker Cup appearance.
“I’m so honored because these are really neat guys,” U.S. captain Jim Holtgrieve said. “They really get it. They can have a positive influence on golf going forward, and that’s what the Walker Cup is all about.”
White has missed a total of six days of school as the U.S. team toured the 9/11 memorial, attended the U.S. Open tennis tournament and played five-plus practice rounds in a week.
What is he missing back at school? The first is his government class, where students are diving into the formation of the U.S. constitution. Also on the schedule is a criminal-justice class in which they will take an in-depth look at how laws and rules are made – right now, they’re tearing through the student handbook to see if anything needs to be amended – as well as a class that discusses the foundations of psychology and the different fields of study.
A few of his students understand the honor and prestige associated with the Walker Cup, but really, White joked, “They’re probably happiest about having a substitute teacher for a few days.”