Here's a copy of the current story about the return of the Open to Long Island. USGA officials are particularly happy to have the chance to let people see Shinnecock for the world-class course that it is, not as the object of derision it became in 2004, when the USGA admittedly "let the course get away from us."
The U.S. Golf Association is taking a Mulligan on Shinnecock Hills.
After a controversial, difficult overbaked ending to the U.S. Open at the course in 2004, the USGA will try again, bringing its major championship back to Southampton in 2018. The association made the announcement here today at Congressional Country Club, where this year’s Open will begin tomorrow.
There had been concern and questions over whether the USGA and one of its charter member clubs would ever reconcile after the final round in 2004. The USGA was widely criticized—by players, but also by the golf public—for the way it allowed the greens to go brown at the end of that championship. At the time, there had been no rain and it was believed that the course’s only defense was the speed of the greens.
But that led to a bizarre scene, in which members of the greens staff watered the parched greens intermittently during the last round. That overshadowed the drama involving the golf, with Phil Mickelson grabbing then losing the lead on the final three holes, and Retief Goosen winning his second Open.
The USGA has new leadership now, under president Jim Hyler and executive director Mike Davis, and a new, less punitive philosophy on course setup. “We let the course get away from us,” Hyler said at a news conference today, promising that it would not happen again.
Davis, who was the official on the infamous seventh green that day in 2004 and suspended play before the green could be watered, said of the 2018 Open, “This one is going to be very special.”
Shinnecock Hills membership agreed to host the event for a fifth time, having done so in 1896, 1986 and 1995 before the 2004 spectacle. “We are thrilled,” said club board member Brett Pickett, son of former Islanders owner John O. Pickett.
In a statement, Shinnecock Hills president Robert A. Murphy Jr. said, “On behalf of our members, I am delighted to welcome the USGA and the U.S. Open Championship back to Shinnecock Hills in 2018. Shinnecock Hills is proud of our common heritage with the USGA dating back to the origins of golf in America, and we are equally excited about our strong future together. We believe that our course offers a unique venue for championship golf that stands the test of any era, and we are very pleased to have the USGA as our partner in sharing the challenge of Shinnecock again in 2018.”
Shinnecock Hills was one of the founding clubs of the USGA in 1894.
Holding the Open in 2018 will allow the world another glimpse at a course that routinely is ranked among the top three in the country in magazine polls, and it presents an opportunity to wipe out the bad taste from 2004.
At the time, players were outspoken as they walked off the crusty 18th green. “It’s not golf,” Long Island native Chris DiMarco said that day.
Mike Weir said, “They don’t have a golf course to play here the next few weeks. The golf course is dead.”
Vijay Singh, asked what he shot that day, said, “78,” then, after a pause, he added, “par.”
Jerry Kelly said of the USGA, “I think they’re ruining the game, ruining the tournament.”
The 2018 Open adds to a busy itinerary for the USGA on Long Island this decade. The U.S. Mid-Amateur was held last fall at Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton. In 2013, the U.S.Women’s Open and Walker Cup both will be held near Shinnecock Hills, at Sebonack Golf Club and National Golf Links of America, respectively. The 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur will be held at Nassau Country Club in Glen Cove, 100 years after the same event was held at the same course.