The new championships, which will be held annually between mid-March and late May, are the first to be added to the USGA championship schedule since 1995, when the USGA Men’s and Women’s State Team Championships were created to mark the Association’s centennial. They replace the Men's and Women's Publinks Championships which the USGA has decided to scrap. While the latter was a widely-criticized move, the four-balls should prove to be wildly popular.
"The four-ball format, which is widely popular at the state and regional levels and at golf clubs around the U.S., is sure to produce a spirited team dynamic and provide enjoyment for both the players and spectators at some of the finest courses in the game,” said USGA VP and Chairman of the Championship Committee Thomas O'Toole, Jr., during the announcement yesterday at the Olympic Club. Having played in many events in that format (and actually won the MGA Senior Four-Ball in 2010), I wholeheartedly agree.
The 2015 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball is scheduled for April 30-May 6, with both courses (Lake and Ocean) at The Olympic Club set to host 36-hole stroke-play qualifying and the club’s famed Lake Course to host the championship’s match-play bracket. Bandon Dunes Golf Resort will host the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, its fifth USGA championship. The championship will be played the same dates on the resort’s Bandon Dunes Course.
Both the East and West courses at Winged Foot GC will be used for the 2016 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, with the club’s East Course used as the venue for the championship’s match-play bracket. The 2016 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship is scheduled for May 19-25, and will be the 12th USGA championship conducted at Winged Foot, which is also scheduled to host the U.S. Open on its West Course for the sixth time in 2020.
Streamsong Resort's Blue Course, designed by Tom Doak, will host the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship, also scheduled for May 19-25. The event will be the first USGA championship for Streamsong, is an outstanding new venue with two courses that opened for play in 2012.
Eligibility for the national four-ball championships will be limited to amateurs, with no age restrictions. Partners comprising teams or sides will not be required to be from the same club, state or country. Entry is limited to individuals with a USGA Handicap Index® not to exceed 5.4 for men and 14.4 for women.
The USGA’s amateur four-ball championships will begin as early as next August with 18-hole sectional qualifying conducted by state and regional golf associations at dozens of sites across the nation. The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball and U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball will consist of 128 and 64 two-player teams, respectively, each playing their own ball throughout the round. Each team’s score will be determined by using the lower score of the partners for each hole. After 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying, each field will be reduced to the low 32 teams for the championship’s match-play bracket, from which the eventual men’s and women’s champions will be determined.