A country which gets golf-minded need not worry about the honor, the integrity and the honesty of its people. DONALD ROSS
Bradley Klein delivers the news of a USGA return to a place thought to be off the radar for a major event. I doubt this is a setup for a return U.S. Open, despite the widespread and frankly, relentless clamoring for a 2023 Open return to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Jim Furyk's unforgettable triumph over the North Course.
This is probably more of a gift to an executive committee member for time well-served, not that there's anything wrong with that:
The 2015 Amateur will be contested on both the North Course and the South Course, with both courses sharing responsibilities for the 36-hole stroke play qualifier. It has yet to be determined which of the 18-hole layouts will be home to the match play segment of the championship.
Olympia Fields, founded in 1913, at one point included four courses, but gradually sold off some of its land. Its North Course, designed by Willie Park Jr. in 1922, has been home to the Western Open (1933, 1968, 1971), the PGA Championship (1925, 1961), the U.S. Open (1928, 2003), and the U.S. Senior Open (1997).
The South Course evolved into its current configuration from a 1916 design by Tom Bendelow and was the subject of a major overall and partial re-routing by architect Steve Smyers in 2007-08. Smyers has been a member of the USGA Executive Committee since 2006 – the only professional course architect ever to have served in that capacity.
The confirmation of Quail Hollow--home to the PGA Tour's seventh major--as 2017 PGA Championship host came today with no mention of the potential for the kind of hot and humid weather that scorched the club's greens this summer and will likely lead to a green resurfacing project.
Next summer the PGA visits Atlanta in August, about the last place any sane individual wants to be and where they are also having issues with new greens. This, just after leaving Whistling Straits where the media opted not to take a harder look at the number of injuries once again caused by the Strait's steep faux dunes.
In a world where you have clubs that would kill to host a major, then there's Colorado Golf Club.
It's kind of an amazing thing to read Anthony Cotton's story on Colorado Golf Club's shaky status and realize that the PGA of America sees it as a potential host site for future majors and yet, the place seems to have a corporate ownership situation that may doom the course.
Though Lang is selling Erin Hills to Milwaukee businessman Andy Ziegler, the USGA considers it a seamless transition and remains high on the potential of the 3-year-old course in the Town of Erin.
In fact, the USGA championship committee on Friday presented eight potential Midwest sites for the 2017 U.S. Open to the executive committee, and Erin Hills was on the list.
"It's such a special site," said Mike Davis, the senior director of rules and competitions for the USGA. "We love Bob Lang and think the world of him, but we think (the change in ownership) is a very positive thing in the sense that it will now be properly capitalized."
The USGA is expected to vote on the 2017 U.S. Open venue at its annual meeting in February and announce the choice in June. Erin Hills is considered a front-runner.
Brad Klein notes the new ownership's walking only policy and yet another design change.
In the past year, the course underwent modification that reworked three greens, tweaked numerous fairway contours and added more than a dozen bunkers. According to Hurdzan, more renovations are planned for this fall, with a handful of bunkers slated for removal. Moreover, the par-5 10th hole will be shortened to a long par 4; that will entail removal of a blind, fallaway Biarritz green and its replacement by a new putting surface closer to the tee on a knoll.
This strikes me as odd on many levels, then again, I've never understood Erin Hills as a possible major venue with Whistling Straits having a grip on the region and so many variables in play. Gary D'Amato reports:
Andy Ziegler of Mequon, the co-founder and CEO of Artisan Partners Limited Partnership, has reached an agreement to purchase the course from Bob Lang.
"I'm buying it individually," Ziegler said in a telephone call from London. "There are no Artisan partners involved. We may close as early as Friday of this week. I will be the 100% owner of the golf course."
We've been told over and over again that Erin Hills was a lock for the 2017 US Open, but unless the USGA was somehow consulted on this sale and gave a thumbs up, it's hard to see how this reinforces the supposedly inevitable decision. (One that some have suggested might be announced as soon as next June.)
Ryan Herrington notes that the Erin Hills-gets-major talk has quieted down a bit but also points out that former USGA Executive Comittee member Jim Rinehart is now part of a board at Erin Hills, as reported by D'Amato:
Ziegler said he would be the chairman of a newly established board of directors but would not be involved in the day-to-day operation of the course. Jim Reinhart, a former vice president of the United States Golf Association and a former minority partner in Erin Hills, will serve on the board, Ziegler said.
This is also a reminder of the perils in courting major venues so far in advance, particularly those where the course is untested and may be relying on the awarding of a major to ensure survival.
And it's just a stunner because Lang has been so intimately involved in every facet of Erin Hills, including recent course changes that were intended to comfort the USGA.
Perhaps there's now a glimmer of hope for Cog Hill and Southern Hills, Midwest venues with more stable ownership situations? Or maybe Rinehart's involvement seals the deal for Erin Hills?