Golfers like to challenge their game on a variety of golf-course layouts. Some designers prefer difficult terrain from tee to green - while others provide run-off areas for the everyday hacker. No matter what skill level though, both designs are typical of public links. Public links courses are making their way into the rotation for major championships.
After going more than 40 years without being played on a public course, the PGA Championship is headed to two in a row.
Harding Park in San Francisco has been selected to host the PGA Championship in 2020. The 2019 event will be played at Bethpage Black, a public course on Long Island.
The 2020 event at Harding Park would give California major tournaments in three consecutive years, with the U.S. Open going to Pebble Beach in 2019 and Torrey Pines in 2021.
The last PGA Championship played on an affordable public links course was in 1974 at Tanglewood Golf Course in North Carolina. The PGA Championship has not been played on the West Coast since 1998 at Sahalee outside Seattle, Wash.
Torrey Pines is noted for being one of the popular venues for Tiger Woods. Woods made a miraculous putt on the 18th green in the final round of the 2008 U.S. Open to force an 18-hole playoff with Rocco Mediate. Woods would go on to win the match and record his 14th major title. The course played its part by providing suspense, drama and emotional outcome.
Golf courses being designed today are not set up as public venues. Most are associated with private clubs or resorts to accommodate to the upper-crust portion of society.
The PGA Tour and USGA need to keep grounded about their golf-course selection for major events. Several public links across the country can be used to host majors, President's Cup matches and the Ryder Cup. The public make up 96 percent of crowds paying to watch touring pros challenge their games in these tournaments. Members at private clubs merely whisper their approval of blue-collar people invading their hollow grounds.
The PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and Champions Tour play regular-tour events on public courses. Why must the USGA and PGA mandate that their majors be held on the million-dollar country club designs? Corporate sponsorship is one reason the private sector sees major tournaments played on private links. Without this money, the PGA, LPGA and Champions Tours would wither away.
So gentleman players and country-club crashers should show their support for my plea to see more public courses on major tournament schedules in the future.
* Easy Outs: Touring golf professionals are using an old rule to hide poor performances at tournaments.
In the official rule book of the USGA, a player is permitted to excuse his or her self from playing a round due to an injury. Two LPGA stars did just that last week. Paula Creamer and Natalie Gulbis failed to start the second round due to reported injuries. Neither player was in contention to make the cut.
Contact Eddie Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org