Oakmont Country Club and Merion Golf Club, two classic American layouts, now have an enduring place in the national championships for men’s and women’s golf.
The USGA announced Wednesday that Oakmont and Merion will host five U.S. Opens and four U.S. Women’s Opens between them through 2050, while designating Oakmont a second anchor site for the big events, joining Pinehurst Resort as perpetual hosts of the USGA’s most important championships.
“Oakmont and Merion are iconic in every sense of the word – they’re in rare company in golf and continue to test the best in the game,” John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships, said in a media release.
“We’re making history and kicking off a new era for our national championships in Pennsylvania and we couldn’t be more excited about what lies ahead.”
In speaking with players in the past few years, USGA officials found a common thread: Players care not just about winning national championships but where they win them.
Adding Oakmont and Merion to the USGA’s commitment to Pinehurst further entrenches the U.S. Opens at some of the game’s most revered courses.
“Our members and all of Pittsburgh are so excited to host the USGA and the best players in the game at Oakmont, which we believe to be one of the most exacting tests of golf anywhere in the world.” – Oakmont president Ed Stack
Oakmont, which is hosting the U.S. Amateur this week outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, also will host the 2025 U.S. Open (previously announced), the 2028 and 2038 U.S. Women’s Opens, the 2034, 2042 and 2049 U.S. Opens, the 2033 Walker Cup matches and the 2046 U.S. Amateur.
The notoriously difficult Oakmont has hosted U.S. Opens won by Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Ernie Els and Dustin Johnson as well as Women’s Opens won by Paula Creamer and Patty Sheehan. Bobby Jones won one of his five U.S. Amateur titles at Oakmont.
“Our members and all of Pittsburgh are so excited to host the USGA and the best players in the game at Oakmont, which we believe to be one of the most exacting tests of golf anywhere in the world,” Oakmont president Ed Stack said.
“It is the perfect venue to identify the best golfers around the globe, in concert with the USGA’s mission for championship golf. The new champions who will be crowned over the next 30 years will join a distinguished list of past champions and etch their names in golf history.”
Merion, already scheduled to host the 2022 Curtis Cup matches and the 2026 U.S. Amateur, will add the 2030 U.S. Open, the 2034 U.S. Women’s Open, the 2046 U.S. Women’s Open and the 2050 U.S. Open to its future events. The 2030 U.S. Open will mark the centennial of Bobby Jones’ Grand Slam, having won the final leg in the U.S. Amateur at Merion in September 1930.
As host of 18 previous USGA events, Merion owns the distinction of having hosted more of the association’s championships than any other site. It is where Jones won two U.S. Amateur championships and Ben Hogan, Lee Trevino, David Graham, Olin Dutra and Justin Rose have won U.S. Open titles.
“Starting with its formation, the desire to host significant championships has been at Merion’s core. It is no wonder Merion has hosted more USGA championships than any club in America,” said Buddy Marucci, championship chair for Merion.
“Our friendship with the USGA dates to its first decade and has produced some of the most incredible moments in golf history. We are thrilled to celebrate those moments by announcing four more Open championships and we look forward to bringing the best players in the world to compete on Hugh Wilson’s timeless masterpiece.”
In addition to the events announced Wednesday, the USGA also committed to bringing more of its championships to Pennsylvania beyond the 18 now scheduled to be played.
Quietly last week, while Nelly Korda, Mone Inami, Lydia Ko and Aditi Ashok captured the consciousness of the golf world at the Tokyo Olympics, the TaylorMade Golf Company changed hands. A consortium of South Korean interests bought the company for roughly $1.7 billion (U.S).
TaylorMade began an auction in February led by investment bank Morgan Stanley. The seller, KPS Capital Partners, “killed it” in Wall Street vernacular, earning more than four times its investment of $425 million in 2017.
KPS, along with TaylorMade management, executed a remarkable turnaround. The company was put on the sales block in 2016 by then owner Adidas, the sporting goods conglomerate based in Germany that owned the company for 20 years. At the time, TaylorMade was thought to be losing money. And the overall golf economy was not uplifting. Nike, Adidas’ chief competitor in shoes and sports apparel, exited the golf equipment business in 2016, and retailer Golfsmith filed for bankruptcy that same year.
Many of TaylorMade’s wounds were self-inflicted….
The alliance between the PGA Tour and the European Tour announced last fall has been brought into sharper focus with the announcement Tuesday of the 2021-22 PGA Tour schedule which will include three co-sanctioned tournaments.
Among the most significant elements of the new schedule include:
“It’s an important first step,” European Tour CEO Keith Pelley said in a video conference Tuesday morning.
The European Tour schedule is still being finalized, Pelley said.
Inserting the Genesis Scottish Open into the PGA Tour schedule necessitated moving the John Deere Classic, traditionally played the week before the Open Championship, one week earlier on the PGA Tour schedule. It will allow the top players on both tours to play in the Scottish Open and the Open Championship in successive weeks.
“It presented us an opportunity to demonstrate the impact we can have together,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.
The 48-tournament PGA Tour schedule will be the first played under the new nine-year media rights deal signed by the tour last year. Monahan said the new schedule will include an 18-percent increase in total earnings for the tour and a $35 million increase in prize money. Every PGA Tour event, Monahan said, will have an increased purse in the new season which will begin with the Fortinet Championship Sept. 13-19 in Napa, California.
While the number of World Golf Championship events will be cut in half, the existing WGC events will remain with different distinctions.
The WGC-HSBC Champions in China in November and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas, in March will remain as they are.
The Mexico Championship April 25-May 1 will lose its WGC distinction as will the tournament being played at TPC Southwind in Memphis this week.
Among the unanswered questions in the joint announcement is whether the Saudi International will be on the 2022 European Tour season.
The Memphis event will launch the FedEx Cup playoffs next year followed by the BMW Championship at Wilmington (Delaware) Country Club and the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta, ending the last full week in August, avoiding a Labor Day weekend finish.
The new playoff rotation leaves the PGA Tour without events in the New York, Boston and Chicago areas.
“For us, it is a matter of when, not if, we will be back,” Monahan said, pointing out the number of PGA of America and USGA events scheduled to the New York and Boston areas in the relatively near future.
Among the unanswered questions in the joint announcement is whether the Saudi International will be on the 2022 European Tour season. Given the political issues surrounding Saudi Arabia and reports that Saudi investors are now involved in the Asian Tour with a goal of creating a handful of star-driven, big-money events, there have been reports the tournament will not be sanctioned next year.
Pelley declined to comment specifically about the Saudi event. Monahan said PGA Tour players will be allowed to play in the event if it is sanctioned by the European Tour but they will not be given releases to play if it is unsanctioned.
Both Monahan and Pelley said they had not spoken with Andy Gardiner, who is trying to create the new Premier Golf League, and both leaders said they have no plans to speak with Gardiner.
In an unprecedented announcement, the USGA has awarded 13 championships to Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, beginning with the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2022. The relationship will begin with that championship and run through the 2045 U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior Championships.
Bandon Dunes will host the U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Amateur in 2032 and 2041, marking the first time those two original USGA championships will be contested at the same host venue in the same calendar year. It remains to be determined if those championships will be played back-to-back or concurrently.
The resort will also host the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior in 2045, which will be the fourth time those championships will be conducted at the same facility in the same year. The agreement also includes the 2029 Walker Cup Match and the 2038 Curtis Cup Match.
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort opened in 1999 when its namesake first course made its debut. Over the next 20-plus years, four more 18-hole courses were created, as well as a 13-hole short course called The Preserve.
The USGA and Bandon Dunes are not strangers. The Curtis Cup was the first USGA event played at the resort, in 2006. Six more USGA championships have been played at the resort, most recently the 2020 U.S. Amateur Championship.
The 2022 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship will be the first U.S. Junior Amateur and eighth USGA championship hosted by the resort, which will make Bandon Dunes the first site to host eight different USGA championships.
“With five championship-caliber courses and incredible support from the resort’s ownership, Bandon Dunes is the perfect location for these USGA championships,” said John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director of championships. “(Bandon Dunes owner) Mike Keiser has been an incredible advocate for amateur golf and his ongoing support for the USGA and our mission served as the vision for this partnership. We are excited and honored to work together for years to come.”
Discussions leading to this agreement began last summer and started to come together when Bandon Dunes hosted the 2020 U.S. Amateur. The discussions were helped along by a special bond created by recently retired USGA CEO Mike Davis and Keiser. Over the years, Keiser had said that he’d love to host one USGA amateur championship each year. While that is not practical for numerous reasons, this agreement can be traced on a straight line to Keiser’s wish.
“I love amateur golf. What the USGA does for amateur golf and to grow the game is exceptional,” Keiser said “I built Bandon Dunes for all amateurs to enjoy the great experiences and spirited competition that golf provides, and we are thrilled to be hosting the USGA’s signature amateur championships for years to come.
“We are particularly grateful to Mike Davis, who has been an advocate for Bandon Dunes since the resort’s earliest days. Amateur golf will always have a place at Bandon Dunes, and this commitment from the USGA is significant. We are welcoming of all the great championships that the USGA will bring to the resort as Bandon Dunes is the home of amateur golf.”
“I built Bandon Dunes for all amateurs to enjoy the great experiences and spirited competition that golf provides, and we are thrilled to be hosting the USGA’s signature amateur championships for years to come.” – Mike Keiser
Keiser’s generosity in golf knows no bounds. Just one of many examples involves the USGA. When the resort hosted the men’s and women’s Public Links Championships concurrently in 2011, he spoke at the players‘ dinner on the eve of the competition and unexpectedly invited all contestants to stay as long as they wished and enjoy as much golf as they wanted, at no additional cost.
This partnership serves as further proof that in just two decades, Bandon Dunes has emerged as one the great golf destinations anywhere on the planet. And it serves as re-affirmation of the brilliance of Keiser’s vision at Bandon Dunes and his dogged persistence to see it through.
And finally, this agreement firmly places Keiser in the pantheon of important and influential figures in the history of the American amateur game, for men and women, for elite and recreational players alike.
USGA contributed to this report
There was a time when Darren Clarke, the 2011 Open champion, would treat himself to new watches and flashy cars every few minutes, or so it seemed. Even his management group told him to hang back until he had done something to deserve the next crazy spending spree. This week at the Open, on the other hand, the now 52-year-old Clarke arrived at Sandwich with something which gave him a different sense of pride – a caddie whose grandfather had done as Clarke himself in winning the Claret Jug.
Sandy Armour, as said caddie is called, just happens to be the grandson of Tommy Armour, who won the 1931 Open at Carnoustie.
Tommy, for the record, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1895 and went to school and university in the city. Then, after serving as a machine-gunner for the Black Watch regiment in the First World War, he emigrated to the States in 1925 to further his golf career – and duly won the ’27 U.S. Open and the ’30 PGA Championship ahead of the Open.
Tommy Armour during the 1931 Open Championship Central Press, Getty Image…