3 Things to Know: 9th U.S. Amateur Four-Ball

By David Shefter, USGA

| May 24, 2024 | Flourtown, Pa.

3 Things to Know: 9th U.S. Amateur Four-Ball

Forty-one years before the USGA was founded in New York City with its five founding clubs, Philadelphia Cricket Club became the first country club in the country. Golf wasn’t formally introduced by this group of former cricketeers at the University of Pennsylvania until shortly after the Golf Association of Philadelphia was created in 1897.

In fact, the club didn’t own any formal grounds and thus played cricket wherever they could find a field, including across the Delaware River in Camden, N.J.

The club’s St. Martins Course, now a nine-hole layout, served as a host site for the 1907 and 1910 U.S. Opens, won by Alex Ross (Donald’s brother) and Alex Smith, respectively. 

Fast forward 114 years and Philadelphia Cricket Club, and its two formal 18-hole layouts will take center stage for a USGA championship once again, this time hosting the 9th U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. Originally scheduled for 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the competition and the USGA re-awarded Philly Cricket with the 2024 championship. 

The Wissihickon Course, originally designed in 1922 by A.W. Tillinghast (renovated by Keith Foster in 2013-14), will serve as the main venue, while the Militia Hill layout, designed by Dr. Michael Hurdzon and Dana Fry in 2002 is the stroke-play co-host.

The field of 132 sides (264 players) will look to survive two days of stroke play and five matches to take home the trophy and earn a spot in this summer’s U.S. Amateur at Hazeltine National Golf Club.

Inaugural champions Nathan Smith and Todd White, and 2019 winners Scott Harvey and Todd Mitchell are the only two sides who will have teed it up in all nine championships.

Here are three other things to know: 

Second to One?

Scottsdale, Ariz., residents Drew Kittleson, 35, and Drew Stoltz, 39, have done everything the past two years besides take home the trophy. On both occasions, the duo has reached the championship match only to come up short in the 18-hole final – first, to fellow mid-amateurs Chad Wilfong and Davis Womble in 19 holes at the Country Club of Birmingham (Ala.) and then again last year to University of California stalwarts Sampson Zheng and Aaron Dhu at Kiawah Island Club’s Cassique course in South Carolina.

Kittleson, who operates a bathroom remodeling franchise that has expanded over the past few years to employ 160 people in three states, was also a runner-up in the 2008 U.S. Amateur during his Florida State days, falling to future PGA Tour winner Danny Lee, of New Zealand, at Pinehurst No. 2.

Stoltz, meanwhile, co-hosts a popular show on Sirius/XM Radio's PGA Tour Network with Colt Knost entitled “Gravy and the Sleaze,” where he receives the occasional jab from Knost,the 2007 U.S. Amateur and U.S. Amateur Public Links champion. 

Maybe changing regions from the southeast to the northeast will be the lucky formula for these two affable players, and they’ll finally exchange silver for gold.

Philly Cricket Club member Gregor Orlando (pictured) and his partner/fellow club member Andy Latowski should have plenty of local support. (USGA/Chris Keane)

Philly Cricket Club member Gregor Orlando (pictured) and his partner/fellow club member Andy Latowski should have plenty of local support. (USGA/Chris Keane)

Home Game

Gregor Orlando has already captured one prestigious title, the 2017 Philadelphia Amateur, at his home club. Now, the 33-year-old Haverford, Pa., resident will look for an even bigger prize at Philadelphia Cricket Club alongside fellow member Andy Latowski. While Latowski, 45, has since moved to San Diego, he still has plenty of ties to the club, and he even flew back to the area last fall to qualify at Rumson (N.J.) Country Club.

“That’s been the goal ever since Andy and I signed up for this event,” Orlando told the New Jersey State Golf Association last Sept. 5 when they qualified. “It’s an absolute dream come true to play the U.S. Four-Ball at Philly Cricket Club. It’s going to be a lot of fun to play in front of a home crowd. We can’t wait to tee it up.”

Added Latowski: “I moved out to California a few years back but have still stayed in touch. Gregor called and wanted to play, I thought it would be awesome.”

Latowski and Orlando have the honor of hitting the opening tee shot on the Wissihickon Course at 7 a.m. EDT.

Two other players with ties to the area should receive plenty of local support. John Sawin and Tug Maude each grew up in the junior program at Merion Golf Club and enjoyed a lot of success in the Golf Association of Philadelphia before moving from the area. Maude was the 2005 GAP Player of the Year while Sawin won that year’s GAP’s Silver Cross as a Princeton University sophomore.

Each missed out on qualifying for the 2005 U.S. Amateur at Merion, and instead whetted their appetite by serving as caddies. Now they’ll return to the area to play in a prestigious USGA event not far from where they honed their skills as kids.

Sawin is now the Director of Golf at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links, site of six U.S. Opens and last summer’s U.S. Women’s Open, while Maude, a Wake Forest graduate, now serves as the director of market development for the Intown Golf Club, a private social club in downtown Atlanta that plays a competitive schedule at high-profile events for mid-amateurs.

“I probably spend more time on the phone with Tug than anyone else in the world besides my parents,” Sawin told Global Golf Post. “We keep in good touch.”

Sam Straka didn't follow his more-famous twin, Sepp, into the professional game, but he still has the chops to qualify for major amateur events. (USGA/Chris Keane)

Sam Straka didn't follow his more-famous twin, Sepp, into the professional game, but he still has the chops to qualify for major amateur events. (USGA/Chris Keane)

Game to Go With Name?

More than 50 years ago, Lanny Wadkins was one of the country’s finest amateurs. The Wake Forest All-American won the 1970 U.S. Amateur at Waverley Country Club in Portland, Ore., the 1970 Western Amateur at Wichita (Kan.) Country Club and competed on the victorious USA World Amateur and Walker Cup Teams in 1970 and 1971, respectively. He went on to win the 1977 PGA Championship at Pebble Beach, play in eight Ryder Cups and win 21 PGA Tour titles. Nowadays, you hear his voice on Golf Channel telecasts of the PGA Tour Champions.

This week, his sons, Travis, 36, and Tucker, 31, will play together for the first time in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball. Travis followed his dad’s footsteps and played for Wake Forest, while Tucker played at the University of Arizona. Both grew up in the Dallas area.

Sam Straka  has also played and competed in the shadow of his more famous twin, Sepp, who made his first European Ryder Cup Team last September. Both were born in Austria and moved to Valdosta, Ga., as kids and later played at the University of Georgia. Sam even caddied for Sepp when he competed in the rescheduled 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Unlike Sepp, Sam never ventured into professional golf, instead getting into the real estate business while competing in major amateur events, including the 2021 and 2023 U.S. Mid-Amateurs. The 31-year-old is partnering with David Matthews, 40, a fellow Valdosta resident.

Another player with a more-famous brother is Jack Cantlay. The Long Beach State sophomore is 12 years younger than the eight-time PGA Tour winner who competed against Straka in last year's Ryder Cup in Italy. Cantlay is teaming with fellow 49er Jaden Huggins.

Matthew Sutherland, of Sacramento, Calif., doesn't have a brother on the PGA Tour, but his uncle, Kevin, won the 2002 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and has since added five titles on the PGA Tour Champions.

R.B. Clyburn doesn’t have any family golf pedigree, but the 6-foot-7 Cartersville, Ga., might be recognizable from the dozens of major-college basketball games he works as a referee, including a number in the Southeastern Conference. Before that, Clyburn had a three-year stint as a wide receiver on the Georgia Tech football team. Upon graduation, he traded spikes for sneakers and tried his hand at professional basketball overseas before deciding to exchange playing for refereeing. Clyburn qualified for the 2021 U.S. Amateur at Oakmont, and now he'll get the chance to play with a partner.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.