The Amateur

Dean Robertson relishing GB&I captaincy role

The R&A
10 Jun 24
3 mins
Dean Robertson the 2025 Walker Cup captain, who also caddied for Louise Duncan at the AIG Women's Open.

For Dean Robertson, it’s been a year like no other. There have been well wishes, reconnections and discussions aplenty. Paul McGinley, the winning Ryder Cup Captain in 2014, has offered his best, while DP World Tour stalwart Stephen Gallacher has chatted at length. 

Appointed in February as Great Britain and Ireland Captain for the 50th Walker Cup match at the Cypress Point Club next year and for this summer’s St Andrews Trophy at Royal Porthcawl, Robertson has enjoyed the excitement. Soon, though, he looks forward for the talking to stop and the real business beginning. “It’s been super exciting,” says Robertson, taking time out from his fact-finding duties at The R&A Student Tour Series Final in St Andrews in April. “I’ve had so many well wishes and congratulations from people that have reconnected from across the world really – that has been really nice. Now it’s time to focus in on the job at hand.” Robertson has heralded a new era for GB&I in the Walker Cup as the first professional to captain the side, just as Catriona Matthew will do in the Curtis Cup at Sunningdale later this year.

Building blocks

The 53-year-old, who won the Italian Open on Tour in 1999, succeeds fellow Scotsman Stuart Wilson in the role for the contest against the United States of America on the Monterey Peninsula, California from 6-7 September 2025. After a narrow defeat over the Old Course last September, Robertson will look to start putting building blocks in place with a focus on the St Andrews Trophy against the Continent of Europe from 25-26 July at Royal Porthcawl. Inevitably, some players have turned professional, but others are emerging.  “I’ve reached out to all the players individually and established what their goals are, not only for the St Andrews Trophy but with a view to the Walker Cup in 2025,” he explains. “We’re looking to see the players playing well and hopefully winning championships. From that, we’ll be making an informed selection process of the players who are best able to put their foot forward. “The St Andrews Trophy, in July, is approaching fast. It’s about establishing who is available and the first get together was at the end of April at Royal Porthcawl for a small group. It gave me my first opportunity to get eyes on the players who are really strong candidates to make up the cohort of the team. Now there is a busy amateur season for players to impress me, including the likes of The Amateur Championship at Ballyliffin coming up this month.”
Scotland's Connor Graham will look to impress during The 129th Amateur Championship at Ballyliffin and make it into what would be his second Walker Cup team in 2025. 

Junior hopes

James Ashfield – part of the GB&I side for the Walker Cup in 2023 – Tomi Bowen, Gregor Graham and Sean Keeling were part of that first gathering at Royal Porthcawl.   “I’ve reached out to our leading players on the World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR®) at this moment in time and also spoken to the likes of Stephen Gallacher at length about his experience of winning with the Junior Ryder Cup team last year,” continued Robertson.  “Those who have competed at International junior level in recent years are the players you would expect to be kicking on and doing well, namely Scotland’s Connor Graham, who has the experience of the Walker Cup in St Andrews where he did really well, and Kris Kim from England and Sean Keeling from Ireland. My time at Royal Porthcawl allowed me to develop some early relationships with the players.” Robertson, the High Performance Golf Coach at the University of Stirling, will bring a wealth of experience to his two-year term having played in the Walker Cup in 1993 and acted as Head Coach of the European Arnold Palmer Cup team in 2009.

Using experience

He added, “In my University role, I get to the major amateur events and I help the players prepare so that hasn’t changed. I’m just going to be at the events for a lot longer in duration, and attend more of them. It’s a busy time but the logistics are well underway.” “I’ll be tapping into all my experience, particularly in terms of preparation, getting to know the players and gelling people together in partnerships. I’ve prepared some things behind the scenes which will hopefully be really inspirational for them and they are not too quick to make the jump into the professional ranks, using the platform of the St Andrews Trophy and the Walker Cup to shine.”  Cypress Point may seem long in the future, but Robertson has already started his preparations. After four Walker Cup defeats in a row for GB&I, he will leave no stone unturned in aiming to reverse fortunes.  “I’ve not been to Cypress Point yet but viewed it with a fly over many times now and I’ve spoken to people who have been out there,” said Robertson, who is being supported by former Tour pro and countryman Raymond Russell. “Looking at the design, it’s not going to be big-hitters golf course, it’s going to be a strategic golf course.  “The likes of Guy Kinnings, the new European Tour Group CEO, reached out to me and he mentioned looking to build that connection between the Walker Cup and the Ryder Cup, and the Curtis Cup to the Solheim Cup. I’m really excited and really looking forward to it all in the months ahead.”