Following his starring performance in The Walker Cup, Matty Lamb discusses his amateur career, signing off in style in Florida, and his hopes for the future as a professional golfer
Matty Lamb’s golfing career has seemed destined to reach the professional ranks since he rose to fame in 2012 by winning the Scottish U14s Championship. In the years that have followed, he has won some of amateur golf’s biggest events, put together a stellar career in England colours and reached the top of amateur team golf as a member of the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team which took on the USA in May at Seminole Golf Club, Florida – the USA triumphing by a narrow 14-12 margin as Matty won three of his four matches.
One of the leading lights among the 10 best players from GB&I, Matty, 23, set his sights on signing off his amateur career in The Walker Cup when he was a teenager, and stuck to the plan despite the match’s delay due to Covid-19.
“Playing in The Walker Cup was incredible; it exceeded all my expectations and I’m so happy I waited to turn pro so I could be part of it,” said Matty. “We had great camaraderie and the friendships we built that week will stay with me for a long time, particularly with the guys who have turned pro and will be doing so in the next few months.
“As a pro, I’ll not play a lot of team golf, if any at all, so to have that experience in the biggest amateur team event in the world was amazing. It was disappointing to lose the match, but to have my final two days as an amateur at The Walker Cup was the perfect sign off.”
At Seminole, Matty teamed up with Jack Dyer for Saturday morning’s foursomes – the pair losing 2down to Mac Meissner and Ricky Castillo. In the afternoon singles, Matty was called up to replace Joe Long – one of the 15 players suffering gastrointestinal issues in the days before the event – and put together a 2&1 win over Quade Cummins. He then teamed up with Jack again on Sunday morning, picking up a 6&5 victory over Stewart Hagestad and Tyler Strafaci. With the match still in the balance, Matty delivered a crucial point for GB&I in the final round of singles matches, beating Davis Thompson in a close match sealed with an excellent finish on the demanding 17th and 18th holes at Seminole.
“I learned so much at Seminole,” added Matty. “While it was a big disappointment to lose the match, picking up three points and winning both my singles matches – while playing some nice golf under pressure – gave me a lot of confidence.
“Competing against some of the best amateur golfers in the world was a great experience, and I learned a lot about how they maximise their strengths and minimise the pressure on their weaknesses. I feel I’m not far away from that level and know I need to concentrate on doing what I do best, making those areas big strengths while identifying areas where I can be better.”
While his preparation for the biggest event of his career to-date was hampered by lockdowns in the UK, Matty was able to prepare as best he could with coach Andy Paisley. In his time working on the practice ground and in the studio at Hexham Golf Club, Matty got to work closer than ever before with the man who has shaped his golf game since the age of 11.
“Andy has always talked about long-term planning and I’m a big believer in having a much bigger plan than just one event, so the preparation ahead of Seminole was really about progressing the things we’ve been working on. We also did some specific technical work on things like preparing for the wind and the speed of the greens, and that really helped when I got out to America.
“We spent a lot more time together than ever before. Andy has been a huge influence on me, as a golfer and a person, and having more time to talk to him about everything that’s been going on was a huge positive of the lockdowns. That period also gave me a lot to think about on how I structure my schedule and whether I plan in a couple of months at home in the future so I can spend longer stretches with Andy to work on technique and the way I approach things.
“Having people like Andy around me has been really important to what I’ve done so far, and it will be really important in the future.”
Having picked up the game at the age of eight at Hexham Golf Club, Matty rose to fame by winning the Scottish U14 Open Championship at Buchanan Castle in 2012. He went on to finish second in the English Boys U14 Championship and represented England for the first time that year.
In 2013, he won the Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters at Nizels G&CC and won the Northumberland County Strokeplay Championship as a 15-year-old, while also representing England Boys. He would go on to win several team titles with England, including the Boys Home Internationals in 2014 and 2016.
In 2017, he won the Big Six at Seascale with Northumberland. In 2019 he won the Hampshire Hog, breaking Justin Rose’s course record at North Hants, before finishing second in the St Andrews Links Trophy. He also helped England win the silver medal at the European Teams Championship and win the Home Internationals at Lahinch, while also helping Northumberland win the Big Six at Alnmouth. In 2019 Matty also competed on the EuroPro Tour as an amateur, finishing eighth at Linden Hall.
In a disrupted 2020, Matty won the Tillman Trophy and the North of England Amateur at Alwoodley.
“I’ve got so many amazing memories from amateur golf, going right back to junior golf at ‘Hexham and in Northumberland,” he added.
“Winning the Scottish U14s stands out as it was my first national tournament win. I remember the relief of getting over the line and the realisation that playing golf was what I wanted to do. There’s a lot more to golf than winning, but that was the first week I remember really enjoying competing and thinking I wanted to be a professional golfer.
“Being part of the England system has also had a massive influence on me. My first game for the U16s against Wales, when I was 14, was brilliant. Jack Hermeston and Jake Storey were also in that team, and I really enjoyed being there as one of three Northumberland players.
“Golf has a very obvious progression through the different stages of amateur and professional golf. Every time I’ve gone up a step, I’ve learned from it, made it to the next step and set new goals.
“Working with Andy on a long-term plan has been so important to making those transitions and we’re going to keep working on it. It’s not about taking huge steps, it’s about doing things at a slightly higher level at every stage.”
Having turned professional immediately after The Walker Cup, Matty played his first event as a pro on the Clutch Pro Tour – finishing in a tie for ninth place in the Sandwell Park Pro Pairs alongside Callum Farr. He went on to make his Challenge Tour debut at the Irish Challenge, where he missed the cut, before taking up an invite to the Challenge Tour’s D+D REAL Czech Challenge.
Since turning pro, Matty has joined Trinifold Sports Management, which is led by legendary music manager Bill Curbishley and Golfing4Life founder Jimmy Byers.
“Thanks to the support from Trinifold, the transition from travelling with a team to making my own way as a professional has been pretty easy. Jimmy and the team have a long-term view of supporting golfers and they’re encouraging me to learn every week and find my feet before I make the next step in my career.
“Jimmy is another great influence to be around and learn from, and he’s incredibly supportive when it comes to developing a long-term plan for a career as a professional golfer.”
As a member of GB&I’s Walker Cup team, Matty hopes to receive invites to Challenge Tour and European Tour events in 2021. While he will take as many opportunities as possible, he has set out his plans for the year clearly.
“My plan is to earn a Challenge Tour card through the top five on the EuroPro Tour order of merit.
“If I can fill in the weeks between EuroPro events with Challenge Tour invites, those will give me a lot of experience, but there are a lot of talented players on the EuroPro and I need to concentrate on that to give myself the best chance of being in the top five and earning my Challenge Tour card for 2022.”
For now though, Matty is busy getting used to life on tour. He has already teed it up in Ireland and the Czech Republic on the Challenge Tour, and is relishing the opportunity to carve the next section of his path in golf.
“Having done a lot of travelling in Europe and Australia in the last few years, the transition to being a professional hasn’t been a shock to the system.
“I’m enjoying being out on the Challenge Tour and I’m looking forward to the start of the EuroPro season. I didn’t play as much golf as I’d have liked in 2020 and in the early part of 2021, so I’m really enjoying being back on the road, learning new courses and competing in tournaments.
“I’ve always enjoyed working on my game and trying to get better. It’s really important to reflect on what I’m doing and take something from every event I play so I can improve. I get a lot of enjoyment from that process and my main goal right now is just to learn every week and enjoy every event.”