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Major Venues of Old


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#1 Matt J

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 06:04 PM

Whatever happened to some of the great venues from the early 20th century?

Was looking at a list of US Am winners and there are a few courses I've never heard of nor recognize.

Anyone have first hand intel on places such as...

Brae Burn CC, Minikahada, Beverly, Alderwood, Kenwood, Garden City....  the list goes on.

https://en.wikipedia...mpionship_(golf)

Could they simply not be stretched to meet today's game?  Fell into disrepair?  Became too exclusive and don't want to host events any longer?

Perhaps some have no minority members?

I was digging around and several clubs that were not very inclusive i.e. Augusta National, Shoal Creek, and Greystone all share a member that happens to be a female and an African-American.  At least she doesn't feel like a token, though.  I kid, I kid.

Edited by Matt J, 12 September 2017 - 06:10 PM.


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#2 Andrew Bond of Glencoe

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 06:55 PM

Some clubs don't want major championships anymore. Unless your club has multiple courses these events basically trash your course for the year. That any hosting a USGA event is not a huge money maker.

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#3 raynorfan1

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 07:36 PM

Interesting topic.

New England has 8 historical [men's] championship venues:

Myopia Hunt Club (US Open 1898, 1901, 1905, 1908)
The Country Club (US Open 1913, 1963, 1988; US Amateur 1910, 1922, 1934, 1957, 1982, 2013; Ryder Cup 1999)
Worcester Country Club (US Open 1925, Ryder Cup 1927)
Brae Burn Country Club (US Open 1919, US Amateur 1928)
Newport Country Club (US Open 1895, US Amateur 1895, 1995)
Ekwanok Country Club (US Amateur 1914)
Blue Hills Country Club (PGA 1956)
Wannamoisett Country Club (PGA 1931)

None have hosted a major since 1988, why?

Myopia Hunt Club

Myopia might be the most interesting of them. Myopia could have been Oakmont (host to more US Opens than any other). The course was built by Country Club members who felt like The Country Club wasn't taking golf seriously enough. The course was brutally difficult; the winning score in 1898 was 328 - 40 over par. Four zero. Like Oakmont, Myopia was a labor of love of a single individual. The course is really a special place. But it's too short for modern professional golf - somewhere around 6,500 yards - and you can't make it "hard" without resorting to tactics that most would view as "unfair". The members, rather than lengthening the course, have chosen to renovate and restore to Leeds' vision and have a damn fine members course. They don't need the money or prestige that a US Open might bring (this is one of the only clubs where polo is still played on Saturday afternoons). I think they would welcome a high-level amateur event, like a Walker Cup, but even that may have passed them by given the lack of defense of the course against modern technology (for the best in the world). This remains one of the best golf courses in the world.

The Country Club

Hosted the 2013 Amateur and scheduled to host the 2022 US Open. Not much to say here.

Worcester Country Club

Worcester hosted a US Open and (the first) Ryder Cup in quick succession in 1925 and 1927. It's a classic and pretty well preserved Donald Ross design, but at 6,700 yards, would need to be lengthened / renovated to be competitive in modern golf. I don't get the sense that the membership has any aspirations to host a major ever again. The course is probably physically able to do it, with work, but the city of Worcester is not what it once was and it's hard to see how it would be the best venue even in Massachusetts to host a big event. But if some WCC member hit the Powerball and made it her life's goal to host a US Open, it could probably be done.

Brae Burn Country Club

Brae Burn is now the quintessential family country club inside the 128 belt in Boston. It's a perfect country club. But it doesn't have big-time golf in its DNA. The Donald Ross course is a fine example - the kind of place you'd die to play 9 holes after work every day. It's a tough members' course, but at 6,600 yards (and a lot of holes that can't be stretched out), not challenging enough for the pro's. You also need to consider that when it hosted a US Open in 1919, it was kind of in the middle of nowhere. That neighborhood was largely farmland, and they were probably trying (in 1919) to gin up interest in a newish golf club that could be considered on-par with TCC or Myopia.

Newport Country Club

Classic course that's the victim of real estate - it might be long enough to host a major event (~7,100 yards, but wind is omnipresent), but Newport doesn't really have the capacity to do it. I think they're hosting a Senior Open in the next couple of years.

Ekwanok Country Club

Great (the best) club in Vermont. Doesn't meet any of the criteria that you need to host a big event in 2017 (not long enough, a 3 hour drive from any significant airport...).

Blue Hills Country Club

I live less than 15 miles from this club, and honestly, have never heard of it. I don't know any members. I've never seen a significant tournament hosted there. I know nothing about it. No idea why they hosted a PGA once upon a time or whether they ever would again.

Wannamoisett

Same issues as Newport. Great, great, classic course. Donald Ross design. 6,700 yards, but not much room to stretch it out in any direction. Geographically would be tough to host a major event.

Bottom Line

The roving US majors (US Open and PGA) have gotten to be significantly bigger events over the past ~30 years, and the style of game has changed dramatically. Courses that were once well suited to hosting are no longer possibilities, and the membership doesn't really want to make major changes to get there. Once you step off the major tournament tigers' back, it's very hard to jump back on (and even harder to understand why you would want to).

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#4 One_Putt_Blunder

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 08:14 PM

Hosting a modern major has a lot more involved than just the course itself. As noted above some courses may have been outgrown 6600-7000 is not really going to cut it for the USGA with few exceptions Pebble, Olympic, etc but then you are also getting cool damp sea level air too, or extremely narrow playing corridors Merion.

There is a ton of infrastructure that goes into a US Open being able to host 25k-50k spectators a day requires a lot of room for parking concessions grandstands galleries etc. Shuttle bus rides from general parking to entrance of 2010 Pebble and 2012 Olympic were both 30 minutes or more. They needed special routes through tight streets so traffic enforcement from city, room for buses etc.  Not all clubs are capable of providing this or want to lose a good portion of their prime season to do so.
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#5 raynorfan1

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 08:21 PM

View PostOne_Putt_Blunder, on 12 September 2017 - 08:14 PM, said:

Not all clubs are capable of providing this or want to lose a good portion of their prime season to do so.

I think this is overplayed. If the USGA offers a US Open, very, very, very few courses are going to say "no thanks"...

Edited by raynorfan1, 12 September 2017 - 08:21 PM.


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#6 crcraig

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 09:38 PM

View Postraynorfan1, on 12 September 2017 - 07:36 PM, said:

Brae Burn Country Club

Brae Burn is now the quintessential family country club inside the 128 belt in Boston. It's a perfect country club. But it doesn't have big-time golf in its DNA. The Donald Ross course is a fine example - the kind of place you'd die to play 9 holes after work every day. It's a tough members' course, but at 6,600 yards (and a lot of holes that can't be stretched out), not challenging enough for the pro's. You also need to consider that when it hosted a US Open in 1919, it was kind of in the middle of nowhere. That neighborhood was largely farmland, and they were probably trying (in 1919) to gin up interest in a newish golf club that could be considered on-par with TCC or Myopia.

All true, although I will point out that Brae Burn hosted the 1975 and 1997 U.S. Women's Amateur, so there have been some national championships there fairly recently.  No chance it's long enough for any men's championship though.

View Postraynorfan1, on 12 September 2017 - 07:36 PM, said:

Blue Hills Country Club

I live less than 15 miles from this club, and honestly, have never heard of it. I don't know any members. I've never seen a significant tournament hosted there. I know nothing about it. No idea why they hosted a PGA once upon a time or whether they ever would again.

Well, Blue Hill is not that obscure -- it did host the Mass. Mid-Amateur a few years ago.  And of course it hosted an LPGA tour event through most of the 1990s.  But yeah, I have no idea how the PGA Championship made it there.  I think it's fair to say that the PGA wasn't getting top-quality venues very often back then, so this is just another example of that.  In any event, it's too short now.

You know this, but I think lots of others outside New England have little sense as to how short the vast, vast majority of courses are in New England.  I did a quick count in Massachusetts, and I believe there are less than 20 courses of over 7000 yards.  (I actually counted 16, but I may have missed a couple.)  So many of our courses are old and hemmed in, and land is at such a premium anywhere near Boston that it's just very hard to get a course that long.  We have a ton of great 6500-6800 yard courses though.  Fun for regular golfers, not so much for the long hitters of today.

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#7 medicoreMAgolfer

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 04:15 AM

Raynorfan - great summary.  Two things of note

1. Wannamoisett hosts the northeast amateur every year (http://www.northeast...rnament-history).  Is a great event and very well regarded in the amateur golf world.  I personallly love the track - but can't see it hosting a major event more from an infrastructure perspective than a difficulty perspective.  The course isn't super long (6900) but at par 69 with a series of long par 4's it is a challenge

2. I believe Blue Hill was a historically Jewish club but with 27 holes and declining membership - the members sold the club to one of the for profit operators and is now a more diverse place.  I've never played but have been told it has a healthy membership these days

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