The 3rd Monday in January is like a 2nd Christmas in my world. That’s the day that my state/local golf association opens its tournament registration for the year. You see the locations, dates, and events then select from your ‘menu’ accordingly what you’re going to play in. Competitors sign up for state ams, mid-ams, the city-am, state pub-links, or whatever else they are eligible for. I literally wait up or set alarms and reminders to go to a computer and start the process at midnight. That is the only way to be sure you get into the events and qualifying sites you want and don’t end up on a waiting list. I know, I have a problem.
That illness is part of the reason why the USGA’s recent news that it is abandoning the United States Amateur Public Links Championship hit a little close to home for me. I don’t even attempt to qualify for it because it is full of college kids that I don’t stand a chance to beat with regularity (because I have a day job work for a living). However, the fact that one less amateur championship now exists isn’t a good thing for anybody in the golf. The perception of this move also leads many to believe that this is the USGA turning its back on public golf. I’m not sure that is true or even close to their intent, but it does look bad. This is also one less amateur exemption into each year’s Masters Tournament.
The USAPL outlived its original purpose as it was created some 90 years ago to provide a championship to amateur golfers that didn’t have access to private clubs. Yet, to have an additional championship traveling to various cities across the country and hosted by public golf courses was a great thing for public amateur golf. The USGA has decided to replace it with a four ball event consisting of two man teams qualifying in stroke play at regional sites and advancing to a national championship with stroke play qualifying for a match play tree.
The proposed four ball event sounds like a winner, but it doesn’t mean you have to trash a 90 year old championship to birth a new one. The two should be mutually exclusive. The picture above is of 2008 USAPL Champion, Jack Newman. As a college student Jack got to play in the 2009 Masters thanks to his victory in the pub-links. He’ll have those memories for a lifetime. Guess what, the members of Augusta National will not be inviting the four ball champs to compete in the Masters, fuck….they’re not going to invite them to the property to watch unless they buy a ticket. With the USAPL becoming extinct, let’s hope the men of the Masters pass a new exemption along to the NCAA individual champion. WWBJD (What would Bobby Jones do?)
Now that this is settled, perhaps the USGA will spend some time figuring out how to fix the slow pace of play issues plaguing the game on every level.