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Monday, January 28, 2013

U S Open Returns To Winged Foot

Winged Foot
18th Hole, Winged Foot West Course, photo courtesy of the club.
The big news in Mamaroneck, NY, is the announcement by the USGA that Winged Foot Golf Club will host the 2020 U.S. Open. It will be the sixth time the club has held the event and the 20th U.S. Open to be played in the state of New York.

"We're thrilled to bring the U.S. Open back to this outstanding club," said Tom O'Toole, Jr., USGA VP and Championship Committee chairman. "Winged Foot offers a spectacular setting in a dynamic market and has justifiably earned its reputation as one of the premier U.S. Open venues in the nation."

The last time the U.S. Open was held at Winged Foot was 2006, when Phil Mickelson suffered a traumatic collapse on the 18th hole to hand the trophy to Australian Geoff Ogilvy.

At one point, Winged Foot had offered to host the tournament in 2015, but withdrew that proposal after the membership complained of being deprived of the use of both of their golf courses for an inordinate amount of time. The U.S. Open is held on the West Course, but the East Course was closed for a year to accommodate parking, corporate tents, a driving range, and other tournament facilities and the subsequent renovation of the turf. The members are currently considering a plan by Gil Hanse to refresh the East Course.

"We have always had a good relationship with the U.S.G.A. and our decision to withdraw from consideration for 2015 didn't alter that," said club president John Schneider. "We felt a longer interval would serve everyone better." 2020 was the next open date, with the championship scheduled for Merion this year, Pinehurst in 2014, Chambers Bay (Seattle) in 2015, Oakmont in 2016, Erin Hills (Milwaukee) for 2017, Shinnecock for 2018, and Pebble Beach in 2019.

Winged Foot celebrates its centennial in 2023, but that year will certainly have numerous other events scheduled. Given the club's contributions to the amateur game, a Walker Cup would be a good choice, but that year will be a Great Britain/Ireland location. There's always the U.S. Amateur, though. Of course, it might be better to aim for a reprise of the U.S. Open in 2029, marking the 100th anniversary for Bobby Jones' epic win over Al Espinosa in a playoff in 1929.

U.S. Open Trophy
US Open Trophy
with putter used by Billy Casper
and sand wedge from Hale Irwin's win at Winged Foot
Regardless of what the future holds, Winged Foot's place in the history of the game is assured. Besides the Jones victory in the U.S. Open, Billy Casper won the championship in 1959, Hale Irwin in 1974, and Fuzzy Zoeller in 1984 in yet another playoff.  Davis Love III won the PGA Championship at Winged Foot in 1997.

A.W. Tillinghast designed two excellent courses at Winged Foot. The West Course is better known and also hosted the U.S. Amateur Championships in 1940 and 2004 in addition to the Walker Cup in 1949, but the East is an equally difficult test. It held the U.S. Women’s Open in 1957 and 1972. The first USGA Senior Open was also held on the East Course. It was won by Roberto DeVicenzo in 1980.

It may be a little early to order tickets, but mark your calendar for June 18-21, 2020, the dates for the next U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

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