2008 Quaich takes place in Carbondale
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE, Colorado ” This weekend the Roaring Fork Valley played host to an international golf competition.
Eight Americans, with players from all over the country, took on seven Scotsmen and one Englishman in a five-round, Ryder Cup-style tournament known as Quaich 2008.
Quaich started in 2002 with its current 8-on-8 format and has since been held biennially. Every two years, the tournament alternates between being played at Scottish and American golf courses.
This year, the golfers hit the links at River Valley Ranch (Carbondale), Ironbridge (Glenwood Springs), Lakota Canyon (New Castle) and Cordillera (Edwards) golf clubs.
Unlike the real Ryder Cup, where Americans haven’t won since 1999, the United States squad emerged as the victor in 2008 with a 16-4 win.
“It was a complete thumping of Scotland by the Americans,” said Steve Webster, a Quaich founder and 2008 host who lives in Denver. “There were a lot of close matches, and it ended up with the Americans playing very well. We squeaked out some great victories.”
The golfers range in ability and the amount of trash talking they dish out, but when it comes to trying to get their team to win they are all on the same page.
“All of the players are average golfers at best, but with national pride and honor at stake, we produce some spirited play in our biennial matches,” Webster said.
The Americans got off on the right foot in the opening round Friday morning at River Valley Ranch. The 16 golfers were split into pairs with two golfers from each country being on the same team and playing against a duo from the other country. The round was played under the four-ball format, where each golfer hits his own ball on each hole but only records the best score of the pair for each hole.
Webster was paired with Jamie Moreland of Louisiana on Friday morning, and after playing the Scots to a tie through the first 11 holes, the Americans finally made their move on No. 12.
After draining a putt that put the U.S. up by a stroke, Moreland strolled over to his golf bag. Rummaging through a pocket, he began to pull out a full-size American flag.
Before driving to the next hole, he draped Old Glory from the side of the cart and kept it there for the rest of the day. The flag not only helped motivate Webster and Moreland to a victory, but two of the other American pairs as well as the U.S. went up 3-1 after the first round.
Scottish team captain Ian MacCallum swung a hot club, helping his squad notch its only victory of the day. Despite the early deficit, MacCallum was confident his team would bounce back.
“We just want to beat these guys. I was a wee bit disappointed we are not closer. We are down one after the first round, but we’ll come back, we always come back,” he said. “No one has ever won on foreign soil. We are going to be the first, I hope.”
By the time the Friday afternoon round at Ironbridge was complete, the U.S. had taken a 6-2 lead.
Through Saturday’s 36 holes, which were completed at Lakota Canyon, the Americans were up 13-3 and erased any hope MacCallum and his teammates had for a comeback. The 2008 Quaich U.S. victory was officially locked up.
“They came into our house, we couldn’t let them win,” Moreland said.
The roots of Quaich run much deeper than the first official tournament in 2002. It started with Webster and fellow America Chris Van Horne traveling to Scotland, where the pair studied abroad at the University of Edinburgh during their junior years of college in 1985-86.
It was there where Webster met MacCallum and the two began to battle on the golf course.
“I used to play little USA vs. Scotland matches against Ian. He and I went out on a regular basis,” Webster said. “So I feel like it kind of started then, but then we started to involve other people, and it became this big thing.”
After the first competition was held in Scotland, the second was held in Virginia in 2004 before the tournament returned to Scotland for its third tournament in 2006. This year, the Americans chose Colorado as the host ” knowing that the state’s clear skies, picturesque backdrop and ideal weather conditions could be advantageous.
In the Scottish competitions, the Americans have lost both times. In 2006, they played every round in heavy rain and with a forceful wind.
“They (the Scots) kill us over there because it is so windy, rainy, cold,” Webster said. “And there is no such thing as a beer cart in Scotland ” for this man (pointing to Moreland), that’s brutal.”
“We play with carts and Budweiser and no rain and no 40 mph winds,” Moreland said. “There are no carts, you have to walk 36 holes. … in the rain, in the 30 mph wind.”
This year, just like when the Americans played host in Virginia, the U.S. came out on top in the standings. After four competitions, each team has yet to claim a victory on foreign turf.
Despite being on the wrong side of the score, the Scottish players did admit to loving the Colorado setting.
“I love this course (River Valley Ranch). I absolutely love it,” MacCallum said. “I love the cart, love the beer, love the weather. I just don’t like getting beat very much. Everything is fantastic outside of the score.”
Quaich will return to Scotland in 2010, but the Americans are already making plans for its return to the U.S. in 2012. Moreland is thinking of hosting the competition in his neck of the woods ” in either Louisiana or Florida.
“The bayou is a good setting,” he said. “We’d crush them down there. They wouldn’t be able to handle it.”
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