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United States Golf Association

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Title: United States Golf Association  
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Subject: History of golf, 1937 U.S. Open (golf), 1948 U.S. Open (golf), 1951 U.S. Open (golf), 1974 U.S. Open (golf)
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United States Golf Association

United States Golf Association
Abbreviation USGA
Formation December 22, 1894 (1894-12-22),
120 years ago (as the Amateur Golf Association
of the United States)
Headquarters Golf House,
Far Hills, New Jersey
Region served United States, Mexico
Membership 700,000
Executive Director Mike Davis
President Thomas J. O'Toole Jr.
Affiliations The R&A
Staff 300
Volunteers 1,200

The United States Golf Association (USGA) is the United States' national association of golf courses, clubs and facilities and the governing body of golf for the U.S. and Mexico. Together with The R&A, the USGA produces and interprets the Rules of Golf. The USGA also provides a national handicap system for golfers, conducts 13 national championships, including the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Senior Open, and tests golf equipment for conformity with regulations. In addition, the USGA is a leader in turfgrass research through its Green Section and it provides hundreds of grants to grass-roots programs through its Foundation in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The USGA Foundation has provided more than $60 million in grants to programs for underprivileged youth and individuals with disabilities. It is the largest contributor to The First Tee program. The USGA is currently led by Executive Director Mike Davis, and President Thomas J. O'Toole Jr., and is headquartered at Golf House in Far Hills, New Jersey.[1]

The Bob Jones Award is the highest honor given by the United States Golf Association in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf. The inaugural award was given in 1955.


The USGA was originally formed in 1894 to resolve the question of a national amateur championship. Earlier that year, the Newport Country Club and Saint Andrew's Golf Club, Yonkers, New York, both declared the winners of their tournaments the "national amateur champion." That autumn, delegates from Newport, St. Andrew's, The Country Club, Chicago Golf Club, and Shinnecock Hills Golf Club met in New York City to form a national governing body, which would administer the championship and also the Rules of Golf for the country. On December 22, 1894, the Amateur Golf Association of the United States was officially formed, and was shortly thereafter renamed the "United States Golf Association." Theodore Havemeyer was the first president, and the U.S. Amateur trophy is named in his honor.

The first U.S. Amateur was held in 1895 at the Newport Country Club, with Charles B. Macdonald (who was runner-up at both of the previous year's tournaments) winning the championship. The first U.S. Open was held the following day, almost as an afterthought. It was not until 1898 that the two events were held at separate clubs. Today, the USGA administers 13 separate national championships; ten of which are expressly for amateurs.

The USGA gradually expanded its membership from the original five clubs. There were 267 club members in 1910, and 1,138 clubs by 1932. Membership fell off during the Great Depression and World War II, but recovered by 1947. By 1980 there were over 5,000 clubs, and today membership exceeds 9,700.[2]

Competitions organized by the USGA

The USGA organizes or co-organizes the following competitions:

Open championships

An "open" golf championship is one which both professionals and amateurs may enter. In practice, such events are always won by professionals nowadays. The two leading opens in the U.S. are:

  • U.S. Open – no age or gender restrictions, Handicap Index requirement of 1.4 or less. Established in 1895, it is the second-oldest of the four major championships.
  • U.S. Women's Open – females, no age restrictions, Handicap Index requirement of 2.4 or less. Established in 1946 and administered by the USGA since 1953, it is the oldest of the five women's majors.

The last win by an amateur at the U.S. Open was 82 years ago in 1933 and an amateur has won the women's event only once, 48 years ago in 1967.

The USGA also conducts the U.S. Senior Open for competitors 50 and over. This is one of the five majors recognized by the world's dominant tour for golfers 50 and over, the Champions Tour. The overwhelming majority of the competitors play regularly on the Champions Tour. Many of the remaining players compete on the Champions Tour's European counterpart, the European Seniors Tour, which recognizes the U.S. Senior Open as one of its three majors. Although a women's senior tour (with a lower age limit of 45 instead of 50), now known as the Legends Tour, has existed since 2001, the USGA has not yet created a Senior Women's Open.

  • U.S. Senior Open – no gender restriction, players age 50 & older, handicap index requirement of 3.4 or less, established in 1980.

Individual amateur championships

Professional golf in the U.S. is mainly run by the PGA Tour, the LPGA, and the PGA of America. However, the USGA is at the heart of amateur golf in the country and organizes the 10 national amateur championships. The leading events are open to all age groups, but are usually won by golfers in their early twenties who are working towards a career in professional tournament golf:

  • U.S. Amateur – no age or gender restrictions, handicap index of 2.4 or less, established in 1895.
  • U.S. Women's Amateur – no age restrictions, females with a handicap index of 5.4 or less, established in 1895.

There are two championships for players under age 18:

  • U.S. Junior Amateur – no gender restriction, handicap index of 6.4 or less, established in 1948
  • U.S. Girls' Junior – girls with a handicap index of 18.4 or less, established in 1949

And two for senior golfers:

  • U.S. Senior Amateur – no gender restriction, players age 55 & older, handicap index of 7.4 or less, established in 1955
  • U.S. Senior Women's Amateur – women age 50 & older with a handicap index of 18.4 or less, established in 1962

Because the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women's Amateur became increasingly dominated by future tournament professionals, two national championships were added in the 1980s for "career amateurs" who were 25 years of age & older:

  • U.S. Mid-Amateur – no gender restriction, players age 25 & older, handicap index of 3.4 or less, established in 1981
  • U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur – women age 25 & older with a handicap index of 9.4 or less, established in 1987

Team amateur championships

These team events, set to begin in 2015, were announced by the USGA in 2013 as the replacements for the discontinued Public Links championships. Both will be played by two-member teams in four-ball matches. Partners will not be required to be from the same club, political subdivision, or country.[3]

  • U.S. Amateur Four-Ball – no age or gender restrictions; handicap index of 5.4 or less
  • U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball – no age restrictions, females with a handicap index of 14.4 or less

State team championships

The USGA men's and women's state team championships were first conducted in 1995 as a part of the USGA's Centennial celebration. The two championships were conducted biennially in odd-numbered years through 2009. Since 2010, the men's championship has been conducted in even-numbered years and the women's championship in odd-numbered years. According to NCAA rules, college golfers are not eligible.

  • USGA Men's State Team Championship
  • USGA Women's State Team Championship

International team competitions

The USGA co-organizes two biennial amateur team competitions between the United States and a joint team representing Great Britain and Ireland (in political terms, Ireland and the United Kingdom):

Through its membership of the International Golf Federation the USGA is involved in the administration of the two "World Amateur Team Championships", which are played biennially in even-numbered years.

Discontinued championships

There had been two events for "public-course" golfers, but the USGA announced in 2013 that both would be discontinued after their 2014 editions.[3] Members of private golf clubs were excluded from these championships.

  • U.S. Amateur Public Links – popularly known as the "Publinx"; no gender restriction, handicap index of 4.4 or less, established in 1922 and discontinued in 2014
  • U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links – popularly known as the "Women's Publinx"; women with a handicap index of 18.4 or less, established in 1977 and discontinued in 2014

Multiple event winners

Only seven golfers have won more than one USGA individual event in the same year:

  • Chick Evans won the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur in 1916. He went on to win the U.S. Amateur in 1920.
  • Bobby Jones won the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur as half of his historic Grand Slam in 1930. Jones had previously won three U.S. Opens (1923, 1926, 1929) and four U.S. Amateurs (1924, 1925, 1927, 1928).
  • Jay Sigel won the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur in 1983. He had won the U.S. Amateur in 1982, and would win the Mid-Am in 1985 and 1987.
  • Pearl Sinn won the Women's Public Links and Women's Amateur in 1988. She successfully defended her Women's Publinx title in 1989.
  • Ryan Moore won the U.S. Public Links and U.S. Amateur in 2004. He had previously won the Publinx in 2002.
  • Colt Knost won the U.S. Public Links and U.S. Amateur in 2007.
  • Jennifer Song won the Women's Public Links and Women's Amateur in 2009.

Five people have won three different USGA individual events in their careers:

  • JoAnne Carner (née Gunderson) – Girls' Jr - 1956; Women's Am - 1957, 1960, 1962, 1966, 1968; Women's Open - 1971, 1976
  • Arnold Palmer – Amat - 1954; Open - 1960; Sr Open - 1981
  • Jack Nicklaus – Amat - 1959, 1961; Open - 1962, 1967, 1972, 1980; Sr Open - 1991, 1993
  • Carol Semple Thompson – Women's Am - 1973; Women's Mid-Am - 1990, 1997; Sr Women's Am - 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002
  • Tiger Woods – Jr Amat - 1991, 1992, 1993; Amat - 1994, 1995, 1996; Open - 2000, 2002, 2008

Thirty-nine other people have won two different USGA individual events in their careers:

Note: Multiple winners of individual events can be found in that event's article.

Most career USGA championships won

  • Bobby Jones: 9 – Open - 1923, 1926, 1929, 1930; Amat - 1924, 1925, 1927, 1928, 1930
  • Tiger Woods: 9 – Jr Amat - 1991, 1992, 1993; Amat - 1994, 1995, 1996; Open - 2000, 2002, 2008
  • JoAnne Carner: 8 – Girls' Jr - 1956; Women's Am - 1957, 1960, 1962, 1966, 1968; Women's Op - 1971, 1976
  • Jack Nicklaus: 8 – Amat - 1959, 1961; Open - 1962, 1967, 1972, 1980; Sr Open - 1991, 1993
  • Anne Quast (aka Decker, Welts, Sander): 7 – Women's Am - 1958, 1961, 1963; Sr Women's Am - 1987, 1990, 1992, 1993
  • Carol Semple Thompson: 7 – Women's Am - 1973; Women's Mid-Am - 1990, 1997; Sr Women's Am - 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002
  • Glenna Collett (Vare): 6 – Women's Am - 1922, 1925, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1935
  • Hollis Stacy: 6 – Girls' Jr - 1969, 1970, 1971; Women's Open - 1977, 1978, 1984
  • Ellen Port: 6 – Women's Mid-Am - 1995, 1996, 2000, 2011; Sr. Women's Am - 2012, 2013
  • Jerome Travers: 5 – Amat - 1907, 1908, 1912, 1913; Open - 1915
  • Mickey Wright: 5 – Girls' Jr - 1952; Women's Op - 1958, 1959, 1961, 1964
  • Carolyn Cudone: 5 – Sr Women's Am - 1968-1972
  • Dorothy Germain Porter: 5 – Women's Am - 1949; Sr. Women's Am - 1977, 1980, 1981, 1983
  • Jay Sigel: 5 – Amat - 1982, 1983; Mid-Am - 1983, 1985, 1987
  • Hale Irwin: 5 – Open - 1974, 1979, 1990; Sr Open 1998, 2000
  • Juli Inkster: 5 – Women's Am - 1980, 1981, 1982; Women's Open - 1999, 2002

Virtual USGA Championship

The USGA partnered with World Golf Tour in 2009 to co-host the first annual Virtual USGA Championship online. The Virtual U.S. Open attracted hundreds of thousands of players from more than 180 countries. The first place winner took home a replica of the U.S. Open trophy and won a trip for two to Pebble Beach for the next year’s event.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Bill Pennington (May 26, 2008). "Answers for Any Question, on Any Rule, Any Time".  
  2. ^ "Club membership history". United States Golf Association. Archived from the original on April 18, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  3. ^ a b "Changes Made to USGA Championship Roster" (Press release). United States Golf Association. February 11, 2013. Retrieved February 12, 2013. 
  4. ^ Gaudiosi, John (March 18, 2010). "GDC 2010: World Golf Tour Partners with USGA for Virtual Competition". GamerLive.TV. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Database of all USGA Championships results
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