We’re living virtually these days, but champing at the bit to get back out and play some golf! Some states allow limited play, while others are completely shut down. In our hometown of Buffalo, NY, the Grover Cleveland golf course is unique: it hosted the 1912 US Open. Back then, it was the Country Club of Buffalo, which built a new course a decade later.
We did some digging, and found that there are a fair number of public-access courses, with major-championship DNA. They are scattered throughout the country, so it likely won’t be a one-off roadie for you and your buddies. Then again, if you’re drive, maybe it will! Read on and be sure to tell us if we missed any public-access PGA Championship sites.
Walter Hagen began a 4-year win streak in the PGA at French Lick’s original (now Donald Ross) course. He defeated Jim Barnes for the 2nd time in 4 years, after losing the previous year’s final match to Gene Sarazen. Little-known fact: Hagen played a practice round at the 1912 Open (mentioned above) in Buffalo, but was sent home by his bosses, after he whipped them! They were afraid to lose to their young apprentice in the tournament proper.
Olin Dutra defeated Frank Walsh by a match score of 4 & 3 at this Maplewood, Minnesota municipal layout. Dutra would go on to win the US Open in 1934, the same year that the PGA came to Park Club, also in Buffalo! All roads lead to Buffalo, let’s face it. The PGA returned to Keller in 1954, where Chick Harbert won by 4 & 3 over Walter Burkemo.
Vijay Singh emerged victorious for his 3rd major title. He won his first PGA in 1998, then followed it with a Masters in 2000. The Wisconsin course is slated to host this year’s Ryder Cup competition, where the USA hopes to salve its Parisian wounds with a better showing than 2018.
Lee Trevino took down Jack Nicklaus at this North Carolina site. By then, the PGA had switched from match to medal play for its flagship event. Trevino didn’t have any rubber snakes in his bag that day, but his gifted shotmaking carried him past the greatest golfer of his era.
The site of Rory McIlroy’s 1st of 2 PGA titles, the northern Irishman won by 8 strokes in a nail-biter (we kid, we kid.) He birdied the final hole, to set a new standard for margin of victory in a PGA. If you can’t get enough of Kiaway, watch The Legend of Bagger Vance on your device; the Steven Pressfield novel-come-to-Hollywood was filmed all over the Ocean Course.
Last year’s site was an affirmation of Brooks Koepka’s dominance. The large man from Florida was in complete control of all his skills, and he claimed a 2nd consecutive PGA Championship title. After years as a USGA site, Bethpage switched allegiances, to the PGA of America. It will host the 2024 Ryder Cup, and you can bet that emotions will peek for that biennial match ‘twixt Europe and the USA.
Technically, not yet a site, but who knows? Word in the bunker is, all four majors are in talks with the various professional tours, to postpone their events until later in 2020. Will we see a public-access event in the city by the bay? Here’s hoping.