“That Was It!”
With the Walker Cup having returned to the Old Course, Roddy Carr reflects on his legendary putt from half a century earlier, which propelled Great Britain & Ireland to an unforgettable victory
By Alan Shipnuck
September 2, 2023
When the Walker Cup came to the Old Course in 1971, Great Britain & Ireland had won only once since the trans-Atlantic grudge match began in 1922. GB & I’s playing-captain, Michael Bonallack, chose his friend Roddy Carr for the team, and Carr came through with 2.5 points in his first three matches, along the way beating celebrated Americans like Lanny Wadkins and Vinny Giles.
Heading into the final eight singles matches, GB & I trailed 9-7, and the deficit grew to 10-7 when Wadkins beat Bonallack in the opening match. But the plucky home team rallied to win the next three. Carr, fifth in the singles lineup, arrived with a 1-up lead at the home hole, which was ringed by thousands of fans at full-throat. Facing a 33-foot putt for birdie, Carr consulted with his caddie, the celebrated Tip Anderson, who had looped for Carr’s father, Joe, when he won the British Amateur at the Old Course in 1958. “I was saying a Hail Mary behind the putt just to get down in two,” Roddy recalls. Instead, he poured in the putt to win his match and give GB & I a lead it would not relinquish.
With the Walker Cup having returned to the Old Course, Carr and Bonallack recently reunited on the 18th green to relive the memories of a legendary victory. Only at the Old Course, golf’s grandest stage and a living, breathing museum to the game’s past.
In 1994, Alan wrote his first cover story for Sports Illustrated as a 21 year-old intern, and in the ensuing quarter-century he typed two dozen more. He is the author of eight books, including best-sellers Bud, Sweat & Tees; The Swinger (with Michael Bamberger); and Phil. Shipnuck has won 13 first-place awards in the annual Golf Writers Association of America writing contest, breaking the record of Dan Jenkins, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Alan lives in Carmel, Cal.