FAR HILLS, N.J. — The U.S. Golf Association is adding its first championship in more than 25 years, getting rid of the U.S. Amateur Public Links in favor of a U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship to meet what it says is a trend at the state and regional level.
The Four-Ball Championship — one tournament for men, one for women — will start in 2015.
Adding these two tournaments means the end of two others, however. That includes the U.S. Amateur Public Links, which dates to 1922 and has a list of winners that includes Masters Tournament winner Trevor Immelman, Tim Clark and Brandt Snedeker. Also being abandoned is the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, where Michelle Wie made history in 2003 at age 13 as the youngest winner of a USGA championship for adults.
The Masters has invited the winner of the Public Links each year since Ralph Howe III won the event in 1988. The Masters currently gives invitations to six amateurs each year: the U.S. Amateur winner and runner-up; the British Amateur champion; the U.S. Amateur Public Links winner; the U.S. Mid-Amateur champion; and the Asia-Pacific Amateur winner.
USGA vice president Thomas O’Toole Jr. said the better-ball format for the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship should lend to more exciting golf. He also said it was gaining in popularity, with more than 150 tournaments using the format in state and regional competitions last year.
The sites for 2015 events have not been determined.
The USGA said there would be no age restriction for teams in the Four-Ball Championship, and that players do not have to belong to the same club, or even come from the same state or country. There will be 36 holes of stroke-play competition — counting the better score of the two players on each hole — before the field is reduced to 32 teams for the fourballs format in match play.
The U.S. Amateur Public Links is the fourth-oldest USGA event, and the winner gets an invitation to the Masters. It was created to provide a championship for amateur golfers from public courses, because at the time, the U.S. Amateur was only for players from USGA member clubs.
The U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links began in 1977.
The last time the USGA added a championship to its roster was in 1987 with the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship.