How Notre Dame's Warren Course Landed The U.S. Senior Open

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John Fineran does a nice job summing up how Notre Dame’s Warren Course by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw made the right moves in earning it’s way onto the national stage this week with the U.S. Senior Open. The course struggled in its early years with maintenance issues but eventually got those right and now is the first university course to host a senior major.

That’s one of the reasons the United States Golf Association — after seeing Warren play host to the 2010 Women’s Amateur Public Links, several NCAA men’s and women’s regionals and several USGA qualifying events — announced in 2016 that Warren would be the first university golf course to host the event.

“The USGA was on board from the start,” Cielen said. “They said, ‘Look, we don’t have to change anything significant here.’ In fact, they paid us the ultimate compliment, ‘We can tee it up just the way it is.’”

Ben Kimball, the USGA’s senior director of championships, confirmed that in May.

“We’re here first and foremost for the golf course,” he said. “This is a fabulous Coore and Crenshaw venue. It’s going to be intimidating. Let’s face it, when you play in a USGA national championship, (the golf course) should be a little intimidating. Fair, yet intimidating. This is the biggest championship in all of senior golf. We want (players) to have butterflies in their stomach.”

The story also includes a sidebar explaining this week’s re-routing.

This 7-year-old video offers some insights and visuals as well:

Nicklaus: Sebonack Will Get A U.S. Open Someday

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Mark Herrmann of Newsday talks to Mike Davis of the USGA after recent Jack Nicklaus comments suggesting Sebonack will some day host a U.S. Open. The course is a co-design by Nicklaus and Tom Doak.

 Speaking at a Long Island Association luncheon recently, the 18-time major winner said, “I think we’re going to get the U.S. Open out there…and it won’t be long.” He wrote something similar when he served as guest editor of Golf magazine last month,

Davis, interviewed at this year’s Open here, said, “It’s one of many courses that has offered an invitation to host it. When it gets to that, there’s actually a team — I’m not necessarily engaged in that any more — but I daresay that there are probably 25-plus courses that have interest. The team does an analysis of every single course. I think it’s fair to say of every one of those that I’ve seen, is there a possibility? Absolutely.

The course hosted the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open and sits next to National Golf Links and Shinnecock Hills, host of the 2026 U.S. Open.

Phil: "I’ve got to give it to — hand it to the USGA for doing a great setup. It’s the best I’ve ever seen."

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Phil Mickelson’s 75 Saturday at Pebble Beach ended his chances here, so it’s never too early to start rebuilding his Golf Gods karma credits.

From Todd Kelly’s Golfweek story:

“I tell you, I think it’s — I’m really happy that I had this chance, this opportunity this week. I’ve got to give it to — hand it to the USGA for doing a great setup. It’s the best I’ve ever seen. And it’s identifying the best players. It’s making the players the story,” he said.

“I think the biggest thing was pin placements, instead of putting them right on the edges they were in good spots, rewarding great shots. I can’t say enough great things about how this week has gone so far. And I’m appreciative to the effort they’ve put in and for the opportunity that I had this week.”

Rory On The U.S. Open Champions Dinner, Checking Out Golf's Most Historic Artifacts

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The Forecaddie tells the fun story of the USGA’s amateur and former champions dinners held this week.

Sounds like quite a swell night. At least based on the incredible photos by the USGA team.

Rory McIlroy’s comments from his Wednesday press conference:

Q. You mentioned a couple of times, can you talk a little about what the dynamic was like at the Champions dinner last night? You don't do it every year. Who else did you have interesting conversations with?

RORY MCILROY: It was awesome. 33 of the 36 living U.S. Open champions. We had a great table. It was Erica and myself; Jordan and his wife, Annie; and Brooks and his partner, Jena. It was just the six of us at a table. And it was really cool. I don't know, even just the stories that we were telling. We were obviously the young table (laughter). We must have stayed about an hour and a half after everyone else had left. We shut the place down, just chatting, and it was really, really cool.

But then talking to Lee Trevino about the Ryder Cup in Walton Heath and it was like '81, and Jerry Pate came into the story, and they played together in the foursomes and they beat Faldo and Sam Torrance. Yeah, just really cool.

And then there was some artifacts from the USGA Museum, Hogan's 1-iron from Merion. The golf ball Bobby Jones won the Grand Slam with. Arnold Palmer's visor that he threw up in the air at Cherry Hills. I'm a golf geek, and I love the traditions and history of the game. And that is so cool.

I sort of walked away from that dinner wishing that they did it every year. But I think it is so special that we do it every five or six years, and you look at that picture. Gary Player stood up and made a great speech about how he came here to the United States with no money. He won, I think -- he won the U.S. Open, it was $5,000 or something. And that was a huge deal back then.

Just how the game has changed and evolved. It just made me really appreciate being a part of that club that have won the U.S. Open. It was a really cool thing. And looking forward to being able to do it for years to come.

Mike Tirico's Chat With Mike Davis: Pebble Has Never Looked This Good

Mike Tirico’s Vantage Point chat which covered a range of topics, with a slight undertone of awkwardness given recent years and player griping, nonetheless it’s worth a few minutes if you’re interested in hearing about this week or Davis’ view on the USGA’s role going forward as a steward of the game. He notes that the organization puts more money into the game than any other.

Bodenhamer On Setup Philosophy, Calling In Other Voices To Help USGA Get It's Groove Back

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As we await the USGA’s annual news conference here at Pebble Beach, Brendan Porath’s lengthy Q&A with new course setup supervisor John Bodenhamer is a pretty revealing look at the lengths he is taking to ensure they hear all points of view.

Check it out, but this was interesting as it relates to Mike Davis, who is still involved but no longer in charge. No shortage of opinions have been sought!

We try to follow what the architect intended. I think it’s really fun to be around that with Mike. I’ve learned a lot.

As far as different, I don’t know — I think Pebble Beach will always be what Pebble Beach has been for the U.S. Open. I mean, why would we do anything different when we’ve had Nicklaus, Watson, Kite, Woods, and McDowell win, and in dramatic fashion every time. Why would we change the recipe? We’re not going to. Now look, there are a few new putting greens here, some new teeing areas, you know it’s little bit different golf course than it was in 2010 and the weather is going to be different probably and all of that. There are some differences.

The one thing that I would say that I have tried to infuse, and Mike and our team are fully supportive, is to be a little more informed with how we’re going into this U.S. Open. What I mean by that is we have Jason Gore on our staff [Gore was announced as the USGA’s first Player Relations Director in March]. A player that has won 11 times at the professional level, seven times on Tour. And he’s informing our process from a setup standpoint.

Nick Price, we’re involving Nick in what we’re doing here at Pebble Beach. Nick will be here this week. We also brought in a guy that I’ve known for a long time — a guy by the name of Casey Boyns. He’s a 37-year caddie here at Pebble Beach and a two-time California amateur champion and probably won 20 other major amateur events around California and the country. I’ve known him a long time, played golf with him years ago. He’s won two California amateurs at Pebble Beach, when he won in the 80s and 90s. But he caddies 250 to 300 times a year here and he’s done it for 37 years. There is nobody who knows this golf course better than him. We brought him out and went around the golf course with him. We showed him our plan. He knows how these greens behave in certain types of weather. He knows what the four new putting greens are behaving like. He knows what the wind will do certain times of the year. It’s fascinating and we’ve brought him in and that’s a little bit new for us.

Crews Will Be Standing By To Put Out Pebble Beach Hotspots

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Nice note here from Rex Hoggard at GolfChannel.com on the USGA advising players of the right to hit greens with water midday to prevent, well, we all know…

One of the concerns following the last U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, in 2010, was how the poa annua greens became particularly difficult in dry conditions, much like those forecast for this week. Perhaps in reaction to that officials have told players that they will syringe greens between the morning and afternoon waves on Thursday and Friday if needed.

Pebble Beach Flyovers: Seventeenth And Eighteenth Holes

By 2010 the 17th green had devolved to the point players were intentionally placing their tee shot in the bunker, then taking the chances with an up-and-down. As I recall—please tell me if you think otherwise—the hole was cut left on this hourglass green all four days.

Here was a then and now view of 17 (1929 vs. 2010) that I posted from the U.S. Open.

Since then the green was remodeled and is significantly more playable and interesting than last time we saw U.S. Open conditions here. It’s always one of the most difficult holes to gauge the wind’s effect in U.S. Open conditions due to the grandstand by the green and more protected tee area.

I am not sure what to expect of the famous closing hole this time around since players were regularly reaching the hole in August’s U.S. Amateur. The fairway has been narrowed significantly and forces tee shots to hug the cliffs, with the fairway bunkers now protected by rough.

The layup isn’t much to worry about without the overhanging tree of yesteryear, but the 70-foot tall replacement can be a killer if a player goes for the green and leaves a shot out to the right. Still, expect players to try and get as close to the green as possible if they hit a good tee shot.

90 Years Later: The 1929 U.S. Amateur As One Of Golf's Seminal Events

1929 US Amateur Program, painting by Maurice Logan, digital restoration by Tommy Naccarato

1929 US Amateur Program, painting by Maurice Logan, digital restoration by Tommy Naccarato

If there was one event I could go back and experience, I now believe it’s the 1929 U.S. Amateur. Sure, ‘13 at The Country Club and the 1930 British Amateur at St. Andrews come to mind, as does 1960 at Cherry Hills. But after going back and revisiting everything that went on in advance of the 1929 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach and what that event meant for west coast golf, U.S. Opens at Pebble Beach and even the Masters, I try to make the case for ‘29 in this Golfweek story.

I mention this because this year marks the 90th anniversary and as the U.S. Open arrives at Pebble Beach, celebrating its centennial, this amateur was the event putting the course and region on the map. I also bring it up since the first amateur at Pebble Beach was always a footnote, lazily written off as the amateur Jones lost during an incredible 1-1-2-1-1-Rnd32-1 stretch.

Some of my favorite golf photos are in this USGA gallery of the 1929 event.

Getting In The Mood: 1982 U.S. Open Film, My US Open With Watson

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The cheese factor is high, with a strong late 70s influence in hair, music and kitsch factor, which makes this 1982 U.S. Open film so much fun. It has a happy ending too. And how about PSA for the member’s program!

And here’s a great fast-forward to the present day with Watson talking about ‘82 with highlights.

Revised: U.S. Women's Open Final Round Draws Just A .5

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Paulsen at Sports Media Watch waits for the final rating (not the overnight) and it’s an all-time low for the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open.

The fall of this event in terms of viewership from the Sorenstam days is shocking:

As recently as three years ago, final round coverage had a comparably healthy 0.9 and 1.31 million. Five years ago, when Michelle Wie won, the final round had a 1.4 and 2.04 million on NBC. Thirteen years ago, when Annika Sörenstam last won, ratings and viewership reached as high as 3.1 and 4.28 million.

Keep in mind that coverage aired directly opposite the final round of the PGA Tour Memorial tournament, which featured Tiger Woods (2.1, 2.96M). While last year’s coverage also faced the Memorial, the PGA Tour event aired primarily on tape delay due to rain.

The final round was no match for the corresponding days of the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur (0.9, 1.36M) or last year’s Women’s British Open (0.7, 964K).

They Love Raynor! Women's U.S. Open Competitors Approve Of CC Of Charleston

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Bob Spear in a special to The State reports a runaway success for Seth Raynor’s CC of Charleston design, which came off beautifully on TV thanks to restoration work and super Paul Corder’s team pulling it all together.

Even the players, who were put through a tough test, raved after a tough weekend where Jeongeun Lee6 prevailed to win the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open.

Lydia Ko, who illustrated the notorious 11th hole can be conquered by making a hole-in-one there Sunday, called the Charleston layout “a great representation of golf courses. It’s not tricked up. It’s right in front of you, but it can play really tough. ... A great venue.” 

“Really tough” proved prophetic to those who started the day within four shots of the lead. Only Lee6 broke par. 

Ford, the general chairman, felt all pieces of the puzzle came together “as close to as perfect as it could have been. We wanted the players to have a great experience, and they have. And the golf course has proved itself to be a great test of championship golf.” 

No doubt about that, Paula Creamer said. 

“The crowds, the venue here, it’s been awesome,” she said. It’s a good U.S. Open venue for sure.” 

Said Gerina Piller, who shared fifth place: “It’s phenomenal. The place is great. The golf course is great.” 

The USGA likes its championship courses to play firm and fast, and Charleston certainly did. Superintendent Paul Corder and his staff drew accolades for the conditioning. 

Jack: Knee Height Drops Look "Silly"

I’m sure many of you saw this from his early week presser, but if not, add Jack Nicklaus to the list of those who mostly likes the new rules of golf (remember them when they were a thing!).

But about that drop from knee height, it’s not just the young guns who feel foolish taking a drop that way, notes Golf.com’s Josh Berhow:

“I think they’ll change the drop-it-from-knee-height rule,” Nicklaus said. “It looks silly. How about ‘Anywhere between the knee and the waist'”?

Amateur Hit With Slow Pay Penalty In Last Group Of U.S. Women's Open

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Fast and complicated greens mixed with threesomes is a recipe for slow play, yet it was still shocking to see three hours for nine with the last groups of the U.S. Women’s Open. The USGA’s time par system, in use at all championships BUT the men’s U.S. Open, earned Stanford’s Andrea Lee a warning and then a penalty, reports GolfDigest.com’s Christopher Powers. However, there was understandable social media outrage over an amateur getting singled out ala Guan at the Masters, reports Golf.com’s Jeff Ritter.

Full broken record mode here: but you combine modern players with faster-than-normal greens, threesomes, and reachable par-5s, and there is almost no chance of breaking 5:30 hours on any tour.

With 11 players within four strokes of the lead, it should be a stellar final round.

Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols on the improbable final pairing of Dukies and one-back Lexi Thompson’s adjustments that have put her in a great position to win.

Rory On USGA: "If they can’t redeem themselves at Pebble Beach, then there could be a problem.”

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The man who was said to be ready to boycott the U.S. Open but was not given a chance to deny that claim by a fellow player sounded much more forgiving today.

Speaking at the Memorial, Dave Shedloski reports McIlroy’s view of the USGA headed to Pebble Beach following last year’s setup issues at Shinnecock Hills.

“They’re trying to do as good a job as they can,” McIlroy, No. 4 in the world, said Wednesday at the Memorial Tournament. “And I think they’ll admit they’ve made a couple of mistakes over the last couple of years. Everyone does. And I think we should give them the chance to redeem themselves. If they can’t redeem themselves at Pebble Beach, then there could be a problem.”

Like a boycott?

USGA's Reaction To Golf Digest Survey; SI's Take On The Story

The “USGA Confidential” oral survey by Golf Digest’s John Huggan and Brian Wacker undoubtedly added some meetings to the Far Hills agenda this week. And definitely made Jason Gore’s hiring look like a great idea, but publicly, the USGA is taking the high road. The Forecaddie’s assessment, including team McIlroy chiming in.

SI’s Daniel Rapaport took issue with several of the player and teacher remarks, but highlighted the purse griping and this caddy complaint as signs that pro golfers have lost the plot.

CADDIE FOR MULTIPLE PGA TOUR WINNERS: The USGA official with every group always patronizes the caddies on the first tee: “Make sure you've got 14 in there—count your clubs.” That's insulting. That's not their job; it's mine. And if I have 15, it's my fault. I heard a caddie say once, “Don't worry, I've got this. I do it every week of the year. It's only you guys who do it once a year.” That statement applies to so much of the U.S. Open.

If that’s not the definition of being mad simply for being mad’s sake, then I don’t know what is. The official this caddie speaks of is simply being courteous. He’s trying to avoid any penalty. One could argue he’s doing the players and their caddies a favor. To view that as “patronizing” and disrespectful betrays just how sensitive many of the players/caddies are.

The last two years, the first tee starter has been Seminole pro Bob Ford. It’s hard to imagine him patronizing a caddy that way, and if he did, the intent was with only good intentions. Or worse, the caddy was simply making up the anecdote.

USGA Increases Purses, Including $1 Million To This Week's U.S. Women's Open Champ

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With all the player whining about USGA purses in Golf Digest’s U.S. Open confidential, it’s noteworthy that the U.S. Open’s will both have the largest prize funds in championship golf (the $12.5 million for the men ties the Players). The PGA Championship did not increase its purse this year, sticking with $11 million, while the R&A has not announced an increase to the 2019 Open fund that will already be low with a weakened pound.

On the women’s side, the KPMG LPGA jumped to $3.5 million in 2017 and has seen bumps each year, now sitting at $3.85 million in 2019.

For Immediate Release:

USGA Solidifies Largest Purses Among All Major Championships

Prize money to be raised by $500,000 for 2019 U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open

 LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. (May 28, 2019) – The United States Golf Association (USGA) today announced that it will increase the purse for both the 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links and the 74th U.S. Women’s Open at the Country Club of Charleston by $500,000, furthering its commitment to provide competitors with an unmatched championship experience.

The purse for the 2019 U.S. Open will be $12.5 million, making it the largest of all major championships. This year’s U.S. Women’s Open purse will total $5.5 million, positioning it as the largest in women’s golf and ensuring that its champion – provided that she is a professional – will receive $1 million for the first time.

The announcement builds on substantial investments the USGA has made in all of its Open championships. Along with the debut of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open in 2018, which provides the largest purse in senior women’s golf at $1 million, the organization hosts the U.S. Senior Open, which also leads its demographic with $4 million in total prize money.

The USGA also provides a portion of the purse to all professionals who miss the cut at all four Opens. Amateurs in the field, a number that nears 30 in this week’s U.S. Women’s Open, receive reimbursement for travel expenses incurred during the championship week.

“The USGA is committed to providing an unparalleled experience to every player competing in its championships,” said John Bodenhamer, senior managing director, championships. “Through strategic investments in our player relations program, we are continuing the effort to create a competitor experience commensurate with the game’s most prestigious championships, and that includes an increased purse and a continued commitment to make playing in an Open championship unforgettable for the world’s top amateur players.” 

In March, longtime PGA Tour player and four-time U.S. Open competitor Jason Gore was hired as the association’s first senior director, Player Relations. His primary role focuses on interacting with professional and elite amateur players across the game, particularly competitors in the USGA’s Open and amateur championships. He also leads a full-time staff dedicated to player relations, including Liz Fradkin, who in her new role primarily focuses on women’s championships.

Digest's USGA Confidential: Golf Pros And Their Entourages Vent, Rip And Choose Not To Be Named

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As someone who has done his share of USGA, uh, critiquing, I found the Golf Digest “USGA Confidential” an interesting read at times. However, I can’t help but think most readers will come away finding golf pros and their “teams” to be inconsistent, a tad greedy and unsatisfiable even in the face of obvious mistakes, some of them colossal ones.

Particularly since the elephant in the room—regulating a distance explosion overwhelming courses—is a non-starter for a large percentage of players.

By the end of their venting, I was exhausted, in part because no single person willingly putting their name on such strong views. The totality could leave some readers USGA-sympathetic and annoyed by the understandably-annoyed golfers.

The headline-maker from the impressive effort of gathering 57 voices—35 current players and 16 major champions—was talk of an organized U.S. Open boycott. An unnamed player named names of potential boycotters:

MULTIPLE PGA TOUR WINNER: We had about 10–15 guys who were willing to sit out after 2016. Some of them were big names—Dustin was one, Rory was another.

ANOTHER MAJOR CHAMPION AND FORMER WORLD NO. 1: I was prepared to do it [take part in a boycott]. Absolutely.

ANOTHER MAJOR CHAMPION: I was one of them.

MULTIPLE PGA TOUR WINNER: I would have boycotted if it had come to that. If it wasn't a major, I wouldn't play it, and a lot of other guys feel that way.

MULTIPLE PGA TOUR WINNER: I figure we needed about 25 guys, and I think we could have gotten there based on what I was hearing from players. Really, just one would have done it, but Tiger wasn't playing at the time. Without us, they don't have a tournament.

Actually, it’s a 156-player field with a majority of the spots earned by qualifiers and would have continued on with the same purse and 156 players.

That the “stars” of the game think they could somehow shut down the U.S. Open, yet are unwilling to sign their name to the view, suggests a level of isolation from reality that might run deeper than we imagined.

Sorry boys, but only one player on the planet pulling a protest no-show would have significant meaning.

As for course setup issues, this collection speaks to the can’t-win issues facing the USGA in trying to balance a sense of fairness, difficulty and creativity in a game overwhelmed by modern distances.

MULTIPLE PGA TOUR WINNER: I miss the U.S. Opens of old, where you had narrow fairways and thick rough, and it tested everything.

FORMER EUROPEAN RYDER CUP CAPTAIN: The old DNA was worth defending. It had always been that way. The majors should pose different questions. The Open is about the weather. The Masters is about the course. The PGA is a more difficult PGA Tour event. And the U.S. Open is about narrow fairways. What makes Grand Slam winners so great is that they've passed all four tests.

WINNER OF MORE THAN 20 EUROPEAN TOUR EVENTS: The U.S. Open was always the fairest of the four majors. It was tough, but only bad shots were punished. As we saw at Paris [in the 2018 Ryder Cup], that's the way forward.

FORMER EUROPEAN RYDER CUP CAPTAIN: The Ryder Cup last year was more about accuracy, and the Americans couldn't hit the ball straight. At Erin Hills, the fairways were 60 yards wide. That's not a U.S. Open. But the USGA has adapted to the modern game rather than making the game adapt to the U.S. Open. If a 280-yard drive straight down the middle was most beneficial, no one would be hitting drives 350 yards. Straight should be as important as long.

MULTIPLE EUROPEAN TOUR WINNER: The wide-fairways thing is not working. Too many guys have no chance if you don't hit it 350 yards off the tee.

Got all of that?

Finally, the notion of the USGA building permanent, 8,500 yard venues on the coasts, first floated by CBS’s Peter Kostis many years ago, offered up the world’s golf architects for free to design the facilities and end the practice of going to golf’s iconic venues. Of course, it’s a fine idea in terms of practicalities but a dreadful notion to throw out history, character and golf’s ties to its past so that distance can go unregulated.

Kostis surfaced with the idea again, followed by many more who reinforce how all of this whining, inconsistency and silliness could all be solved with a 10% reduction in distance and a foot or so off the Stimpmeter speeds.

TEACHER OF MULTIPLE MAJOR CHAMPIONS: I said this a long time ago and was ridiculed: I would prefer for the USGA to buy land on the East Coast of the U.S. and on the West Coast of the U.S., then build two facilities for the U.S. Open. Each would have four courses. And each one would be designed to present the examination they wish to present to the players. If they want tight fairways and long rough, so be it. They're entitled to conduct their championships any way they want. So build courses to fit that ideal, whatever it might be. If they did that, they would stop ruining the classic courses by trying to jerry-rig them.

Like I said, there is a lot to Digest in this one and most of it leaves you wondering if there are many Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and a few others who will put the game above themselves.

Getting In the Mood For CC Of Charleston: A Raynor Gem Hosts The U.S. Women's Open

In a special contribution to Golfweek, historian David Normoyle has filed a fantastic read on Country Club of Charleston, host of this week’s U.S. Women’s Open.

Some of Seth Raynor’s boldest green complexes will be on display, as well a course with a fairly typical history of change, modification, misunderstanding and then, in recent years, a realization of what a gem they had.

“The benefit of a targeted approach to restoration work is that new (old) information can occur at any time,” said club archivist Forrest Norvell IV, who found the 1938 aerial and 1925 Mayberry plan. “The targeted approach allows flexibility to accommodate the lessons of new research and can also be more inclusive, building support of the membership as you go along.”

The 11th hole at the Country Club of Charleston is a replica of the 15th hole at North Berwick in Scotland. At 177 yards, the hole features a raised and reverse Redan green with a false front and two large bunkers. The tee box is situated on what used to be a Confederate battery. “I expect the 11th to be a household name by the end of the Women’s Open,” said Kyle Franz, the designer charged with leading the club’s latest restoration.

Graylyn Loomis posted this review with hole photos that show the course in winter. Don’t scroll too fast by the 16th!

Ran Morrissett’s review for GolfClubAtlas.com is older but still does a nice job highlighting the design’s best elements.

The No Laying Up gang filed this video feature on the course:

Fox’s broadcast schedule for the U.S. Women’s Open:

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