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USGA "Retiring" Public Links Championship, Adding Four-Ball

Note in the press release the part about recent winners of the PubLinks...

For Immediate Release:


Introduces U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championships in 2015, Marking First National Championships to Be Added to USGA Competition Roster in More Than 25 Years

Announces Plans to Retire U.S. Amateur Public Links Championships After 2014

Far Hills, N.J. (Feb. 11, 2013) – The United States Golf Association (USGA) today announced the introduction of two new championships, the first national championships to be added to the USGA’s competition roster in more than 25 years. The addition of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship and the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship, which will be played annually between mid-March and late May with the inaugural events scheduled for 2015, reflects the Association’s continued commitment to supporting and growing amateur competition well into the future.

The last time the USGA added a national championship for individual golfers was in 1987 with the creation of the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship.

“We couldn’t be more excited about the creation of national four-ball championships, given the popularity and enjoyment of this competitive format at the amateur level,” said USGA Vice President and Championship Committee Chairman Thomas J. O’Toole Jr. “Because the four-ball format lends itself to spirited team competition and aggressive risk-reward shotmaking, we are confident these championships will deliver exciting amateur golf to the national stage for both players and spectators alike.”

Eligibility for both national four-ball championships will be limited to amateurs, with no age restrictions. Team partners will not be required to be from the same club, state or country, and substitution of partners will be permitted until the close of entries. Entry is limited to individuals with a USGA Handicap Index® not to exceed 5.4 for men and 14.4 for women.

The USGA’s national amateur four-ball championships will begin with sectional qualifying at dozens of sites across the nation. The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball and U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball will consist of 128 and 64 two-player teams respectively, each playing their own ball throughout the round. Each team’s score will be determined using their better-ball score for each hole. After 36 holes of stroke-play competition, the field will be reduced to the low 32 teams for the match-play portion of the championship.

Four-ball has become a widely popular format for State and Regional Golf Associations across the United States. In 2012, more than 150 championships, either strictly four-ball or as part of a competition format, were conducted in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“We appreciate the support and energy that the USGA is bringing to these new four-ball national championships,” said Jim Demick, executive director of the Florida State Golf Association, who served on the advisory group of State and Regional Golf Association executives and tournament directors consulted by the USGA. “Along with my fellow associations around the country, we look forward to showcasing this unique brand of team competition through what promise to be first-class events.”

Host sites for the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship and U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship will be announced by the USGA at a later date.

In conjunction with the creation of two national four-ball championships, the USGA also announced the retirement of the U.S. Amateur Public Links (APL) and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links (WAPL) championships, following the completion of the 2014 competitions. The decision follows an internal review which determined that the APL and WAPL championships no longer serve their original mission because of the widespread accessibility public-course golfers today enjoy in USGA championships.

The U.S. Amateur Public Links was first played in 1922, and is the fourth-oldest championship conducted by the USGA. The APL was established to provide public golfers with access to a national championship because, at that time, the U.S. Amateur Championship was restricted to players from USGA Member Clubs. The U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links was established in 1977, for the same reason as the APL. In 1979, however, the USGA modified the entry requirements for the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur championships to allow entry to public-course players.

“While our fondness for these championships made this decision a difficult one, we will continue to proudly celebrate the legacy and important role that the APL and WAPL have had on the game by forever honoring them in the USGA Museum, as well as in other appropriate ways,” said John Bodenhamer, senior managing director of Rules, Competitions & Equipment Standards for the USGA. “We also wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to all the champions, participants, host clubs, volunteers and benefactors who, over the years, helped build a strong legacy of public links competition.”

Over the course of their existence, the U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links championships have assembled a rich history across the competitive golf landscape, and are part of the USGA’s long heritage of supporting public golf. The competitions boast an impressive lineup of champions including most recently: Billy Mayfair (1986); Tim Clark (1997); Trevor Immelman (1998); Ryan Moore (2002 and 2004); Brandt Snedeker (2003); Yani Tseng (2004); and T.J. Vogel and Kyung Kim (2012). These championships have also contributed to the USGA’s record books: Michelle Wie (2003) became the youngest champion in USGA history when she won the WAPL at age 13; Ryan Moore (2004) became the first golfer to win the APL and the U.S. Amateur in the same year, while Colt Knost matched the feat in 2007; and Pearl Sinn (1988) and Jennifer Song (2009) won both the WAPL and U.S. Women’s Amateur in the same year.

In addition to staging the U.S. Open Championship at public courses, the USGA continues to grow public golf, and support all golfers, through its various programs, including Rules of Golf education, Course Rating services and Turf Advisory Service visits. Through its partnership with national organizations such as The First Tee, LPGA-USGA Girls Golf, The PGA of America and the National Alliance for Accessible Golf, the USGA supports numerous programs that benefit junior golfers, beginning golfers and golfers with disabilities who play at America’s public golf courses. With the development of its new pace-of-play initiative, the USGA hopes to serve golfers by helping public courses identify ways to reduce the time it takes to play the game.

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Reader Comments (50)

I love just how they make the Pub Links secondary in the story, as if its a worthless event. Its sickening to think of what is becoming of the competitive sport--get rid of the event that is for the common man.... Nice move.!

02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Naccarato
GD, Tommy. You are absolutely right, and beat me to the punch. I cannot believe they are taking away the one connection they have to 90+ % of the golfing world...... I was watching this this AM, and I thought how great the 4 ball was, and then they sort of ''oh, by the way'd'' the info on the Publinx. WTF!!!!????!!!!

I hope they are swarmed with lettes, e mails, packages with unworn cheap US Open hats, rule books, and all. Let's hope these past champions, including Sneds, speak out openly and raise awareness of this move by the USGA.

These 2 men ''seemed'' very nice, actually were swaying my distaste for the blue coas, but when they announced, if you could call it that, the demise of this great event, my jaw dropped.

''Let's twist the knife; sticking it in isn't painful enough...''

What About it, Frank. You have just written a very open letter to Geoff; how about a follow up and reaction to this.

Davis has gone to the dark side.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
The juxtaposition of ending the publinks and replacing it with the preferred country club invitational format makes it look ridiculous.

I just listened to the Morning Doze crew talk about this. Each one expressed strong views on both sides. Charlie Rymer was incoherent. Matt Ginela said it's a great thing for the Masters because it's now "big money" and only right to give another spot to a deserving pro who might win. Does he have any idea what Bobby Jones founded the event on? Or any idea about anything?
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDavidC
Looks I definitely won't be renewing my USGA membership. What's happening to the game that I loved? ANd we really wonder why the game is losing players every year?
02.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterhutzz
The Pub Links was needed because only members of private clubs could play in the US Am prior to 1979. The Pub Links was needed when that rule was in effect. The private vs non-private club status is much more blurry now. So is having status at a private club is more confusing.

The Pub Links isn't needed, but I'm not certain it needed to be eliminated either.

I LOVE the addition of the Four-Ball Championship. Wish it is all stroke play rather than a long drawn out match play event.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterFLGolfer
Opens up another spot in The Masters....think they will give it to the Asian Amateur runner-up? That would be 2 spots available in a 14-man round robin!
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
FLGolfer is right, the US Amateur was so restrictive back in the day. Now it is wide open, anybody that could play in the Pub, Links was eligible for the US Am. I hate to see it go, but it is not a travesty that will prevent a player from competing in a National Championship.

Since the anchoring ban I have heard a few good players say that they will now be limited to 4 ball events.... is this a compensation mechanism from the USGA?
In recent years the Publinx was nothing more than the summer NCAA match play championship. Besides, a great majority of the players were not even true public course players. Times have changed, let's move on.

This a good move by the USGA.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSun Mountain Man
Amen Sun Mountain Man....Anytime their is change people get flustered...It's sad, this was a good change.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterViz
Wish they'd add a Foursomes Championship!! Pure alternate shot is a great format and not used enough.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterFLGolfer
I am all for making the game of golf less exclusive, more affordable etc. But the Publinx at this point (as others have pointed out) is just another glorified college tournament, as is the US Am, and the lesser of those two tournaments. I'm not sure why the USGA needed to be running two of them each summer.

Oh and as to Ams and the Masters, nearly all the Ams getting invites now are guys who don't have another job, work on their games for large portions of the day, and plan to turn Pro. And there's nothing wrong with that, but that's not Bobby Jones either.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
As Williams said- some 14 year old riding his bike up Magnolia Drive.

Look, I know all tat has been posted since my initial reaction, and maybe I am all wet, but I have called the USGA (908-234-2300) and spoke to Angelo XXX VM, and am awaiting a call back, which in the past, they have been VG at.

The 4 ball is a CC deal more than muni.

I am relistening to the MD guys reviewing the announcements.

Charlie contradicts himself, though his point about the AM and the publinx, as stated here is made. Matt G is full of sxxx....''big business'' sucking up for a round at AGNC

It's a different day says Hack, referring to Ams winning in the past..... while a AM just won a ELPGAT event yesterday. Dumbazz.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Somewhere James Standish (chief advocate & benefactor of public golf amongst the USGA bluebloods in the 1920s) is weeping . . .

I wonder what will become of his Cup (the APL trophy named after him) in the future . . .
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSmitty
The number of amateurs getting invites to the Masters will simply go from six to five.

- Winner and runner-up at the Amateur

- Winners of the Mid Am, British Am and Asian Amateur.

If they wanted to add one more (which I doubt) they might consider the winner of the European Amateur.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSun Mountain Man
I think popular opinion may bash this decision...but if you look at it honestly, it's the right move. If you consider the past champions, it's pretty clear that there's awfully few "everymen" among them. Most of them were full time golf players who certainly didn't pay any muni - greens fees. In recent years, this championship had nothing to do with the championship it was intended to be.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlex H
The four ball tournament doesn't require teammates be from the same club, you could play with your friend from the local muni. Not sure how this is a country club tournament. Of course you'll need money to travel and play, but that was true of the publinx too
02.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
in tha past 20 years, the APL was essentially the same players as the US Am, although there was much less international presence at the APL. So it was a duplicate event for the most part...what is the point of that?

I know a ton of people who will jump at the chance to team up and go for a four-ball national championship. Since it is gross, not net, the typical sandbaggers in most club four-balls are out of luck.

It will be interesting to see if the college golfers gravitate towards this new event picking a teammate or even a player from another school.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
Another potential side effect of this (if younger players compete), is that our future US teams in certain events (walker, curtis, ryder, etc) may be a bit better, as they will be exposed to this format a bit more and when they go they may be better prepared to play with a partner. Seems like the international teams always have an edge in players that click.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
Of course the college golfers will play in the new event. And it will be just like the US Am, full of a bunch of pros who don't play for money outright. Which makes them amateurs. Or not. Sun Mountain Man is certainly right about the current APL, which is full of college golfers, many (most?) of whom are "members" (as in children of members) of private clubs back home.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
The point of keeping the tournament is perception that the game of golf is open and welcoming to everyone. I can't argue with the very good points that others have made citing that some of the players in the Publinx are CC kids or that the publinx is another tourny for the college kids. However, I bet not every kid in the tournament fits either of those categories. You can say perception doesn't matter but it does, it really does. Fool yourselves all you want. Golf is full of perceptions. Think of every training device you have ever seen or used. All based on perception. We buy the latest and greatest over priced driver every year because we perceive we can hit it as far as the pro's. We perceive that just because we are the A player in a 4 ball we can compete on the tour with a little more practice. Perception ladies and gentlemen is what makes the game tick. We kid ourselves everyday in the game of golf so spare me your moral outcry's.
Like I said, keep doing things like this, banning the long putter etc and we'll only see people leave the game. And for the "purists" out there, please turn in your steel or graphite shafted irons while you cut down your belly putters.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterhutzz
The Four-Ball sounds like a nice addition, should be a fun tournament. Not sure how it's a "Country Club" format as suggested above, as it's played all the time at my muni and many others across the golfing world. I hear it's also popular in Scotland ;-)

As to the Pub Links, I think it's a shame to get rid of it. If I were king for a day, I'd tweak it and keep it open to all ages of amateur public course players, but exclude college athletes and reinstated pros. Then maybe go with a stroke play format throughout to make it a little different from other USGA championships. Then you've got yourself the true amateur everyman's event.

Either way, you'd think with all that loot the USGA could afford to put on the new without getting rid of the old.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJuanson
The inability (or lack of a desire) to enforce the rules for the Publinx make it easier to
club it like a baby seal.

There were so many cheaters in the event that had private course access it is unbelievable.
Like the distance of current equipment, the USGA is incapable of a coherent solution,
so they just bury their head and show their true colors, which is a disregard for those without wealth
02.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenternon profit winner
Hopefully the next move the USGA makes is to create an event for career amateurs. The Mid-Am was supposed to be that but with the ridiculously lax reinstatement rules these days, that's nothing more than a washed up pro tournament.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDave
Arrrgh. So, they are hosting the PubLinx at my home course this year so I've got limited access to it, and then they kill the event. Awesome. Yes, there are many public courses now, but the real point of the event was to give access to national level events like this without being members of clubs. I'm curious if state versions of these events will wither away.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe O
The greatest moment in APL history — Jeff Thomas and Tim Hogarth nearly coming to blows during their final in Hawaii. They don't make 'em like that any longer.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Smith

I really was hoping that Jeff Thomas was going to win that ('96 , I believe) Publinx because rumor had it he would not have been invited to the '97 Masters...

Something about smoking dope and having a hooker in the crow's nest when he played in the '94 Masters:)
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSun Mountain Man
So why did they cancel it? What's the reason? In 2012 over 3,000 people entered the tourney.

Here's a good story: usga (dot) org/ChampEventArticle.aspx?id=21474848371

By Hunki Yun, USGA
July 12, 2012

Midway, Utah – Greg Condon looks like the quintessential muni golfer.

During the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, he showed up at Soldier Hollow Golf Course for his second-round match against T.J. Vogel pushing his own trolley and wearing aviator sunglasses, white socks with black shoes, beige shirt with khaki pants, and a beige cap that read “C&L Container Co.”
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
For those mourning the demise of the publinx, what if the USGA had decided to replace it with a tournament aimed at those whom the publinx was actually supposed to showcase? either

a) A Mid-Am publinx, for the actual public course amateur, who has a real ob by day sort of thing or

b) A junior publinx - open to juniors who don't have country club membership, no entrance fee, and anyone making it through local quals to the finals gets their travel/lodging etc paid for by the USGA?
02.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
Scratch that, missed this on the first pass through the article:

"A reinstated amateur..."
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
good ideas elf
02.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterhutzz
They should have kept the USAPL as a championship, and instead made it a disqualifying feature of the U.S. Am, to be on an NCAA golf scholarship. (Or else make scholarships a disqualifying feature for the USAPL.)

(Very gratifying, to see the earlier mention of James Standish of the Country Club of Detroit, in whose name the USAPL trophy has been awarded.)

Photo link: Jim Standish awards the the U.S. Open trophy to Ben Hogan in 1950.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChuck
this all sounds like something that was decided in the Seminole locker room . . . (No joke)
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick Adams
Here's to Arron Oberholser! And for the convenience of the winner, there is a Waffle House at the Washington Road exit on I-20!
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
DTF, Funny stuff. I remember attending the US Am at Plainview as a kid and there was a guy who made it into match play wearing a FORD hat with the mesh backing and this was back when that wasn't the look like it is today with the John Deere hat worn by kids and yuppies. This guy was the real deal that probably took the week off from pumping gas at his uncle's gas station. Was always intrigued by that guy.

Digger, I think you hit the nail on the head with Davis. I honestly feel like this guy thinks he knows everything about golf and just doesn't give a sh** what anybody else thinks.

As for the changes: Don't understand why they would have eliminated the championship? Four-ball match play is really fun to play and watch at that level. Should be a good tournament.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
Is it possible that guy who runs TaylorMade is onto something?

Good story Harv...remember his name?

I caddie often for a good buddy and at most events we run into one of his former college teammates who has a similar shtick going, it's hilarious. Dude is probably mid-40s now and still one of the 4 or 5 best am's in NC-SC-VA regardless of age, wins multiple matches in US Mid-Am, he can play. Shows up with this crummy old bag, no head covers, clubs beat to hell....I mean his woods literally look like they've been dragged behind a car! Some no name driver with no grooves or lines of any kind on the face, and an extremely ill fitting ferrule that looks like one might the very first time a novice club maker ever installed a ferrule, just hideous ;0). There isn't a club in his bag newer than 10 years old.

Read any of these Jack Reacher books? Well like Jack Reacher, this guy will go to Bass Pro Shop and buy some clothes on sale for the next day (or two), and the next day on the range he's asking me how I like his new fishing shirt -- if there's a label or logo, he will have cut that off. No glove, might have on golf sandals, no hat, likes to carry his own bag, homemade long putter.

Gets to the first tee and these college kids with all their fancy stuff who might be newish on the scene are looking at this guy and already trying to figure out who they are going to play in the first round -- BAD mistake. Before these kids know what's hit them he's hit every green, NEVER missed the center of the clubface, hung 6 birdies up there and they are walking in from the 13th or 14th hole.

It is a sight to behold, just hilarious!
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
I agree with elf, thiose ideas would expand participation.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPABoy
Wow, if this is held in mid march or April, no college kid will be able to play and qualifying for states like Minnesota will have to be done In September of the year prior. good luck to any one of those players playing with no real golf practice. Why not use the same time/date as the APL?
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark
I'd enjoy seeing two mature men go up against two college boys. What do they say, age and treachery will overcome youth and skill any day.

This may have more effect on the WAPL than the guys game though. You may very well see the Mid-Am women dominating for awhile.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterOPGolfer
I just got in from shoveling and scraping off the car. Yeah, a mid-March tournament will work for the Northeast players.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHBL
02.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv

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