In an announcement made Monday on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive, the USGA announced plans to retire the Men’s and Women’s US Amateur Public Links Championships after the 2014 contests. The USGA also announced two new championships, the Men’s and Women’s US Amateur Fourball Championships, which will begin in 2015.
We couldn’t be more excited about the creation of national four-ball championships, given the popularity and enjoyment of this competitive format at the amateur level,” said USGA Vice President and Championship Committee Chairman Thomas J. O’Toole Jr. “Because the four-ball format lends itself to spirited team competition and aggressive risk-reward shotmaking, we are confident these championships will deliver exciting amateur golf to the national stage for both players and spectators alike.”
Eligibility for both national four-ball championships will be limited to amateurs, with no age restrictions. Team partners will not be required to be from the same club, state or country, and substitution of partners will be permitted until the close of entries. Entry is limited to individuals with a USGA Handicap Index® not to exceed 5.4 for men and 14.4 for women.
The US Amateur Public Links (APL) was created in 1922 and is the fourth oldest championship in the USGA’s roster. The women’s championship was added in 1977. Both were designed to give access to a national championship to golfers who did not belong to USGA-member clubs, or public golfers. At the time it was a requirement for eligibility in the men’s and women’s US Amateur to belong to a USGA-member club. In 1979, the USGA amended the eligibility for both the US Amateur championships allowing public golfers to qualify. Since then the lines between the US Amateur and the APL have been blurred, mostly the APL has been a second National Championship for the many college players who also compete in the US Amateur.
The list of men’s and women’s Public Links Champions is impressive: Billy Mayfair (1986); Tim Clark (1997); Trevor Immelman (1998); Ryan Moore (2002 and 2004); Brandt Snedeker (2003); Michelle Wie (at age 13 in 2003, the youngest USGA champion ever); Yani Tseng (2004); and T.J. Vogel and Kyung Kim (2012). Ryan Moore was the first to win the APL and US Am in the same year (2004) and Colt Knost matched him in 2007. The winners of the men’s APL has also received an invitation to The Masters. Augusta National has not yet announced plans regarding the fate of this invite after 2014.
In the DimpleHead Podcast #6, Shoshana Agus-Kleinman suggested a new championship for the USGA. Shoshana said the USGA should have a junior public links championship for kids who play public courses. Particularly those in The First Tee programs and those who cannot/do not travel the American Junior Golf Association circuit. She also floated the idea that the USGA help with travel expenses for these junior golfers.