US Open & the Tournament's Rich New York History
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The 117th United States Open Championship at Erin Hills, Wisconsin begins today and the longstanding major pro-am tournament is rich in history, drama, and deeply rooted in New York.
In fact, no other state has hosted more U.S. Open’s than New York, with eighteen total. By 2026, the Empire State will have hosted the acclaimed championship twenty-one times, after it returns to the popular downstate sites Shinnecock Hills in 2018 & 2026 and Winged Foot in 2020.
Although the USGA’s inaugural U.S. Open was held at Newport Country Club during the fall of 1895, the second edition of the venerable championship took to the southern shores of Long Island. Southhampton’s formidable Shinnecock Hills Golf Club played host, and has since become highly respected amongst the global golf community for its age, beauty and rich history. Not only does the club claim to be the oldest formally organized golf club in the US (127 years), but has the oldest golf clubhouse in the country and was the first to admit women, doing so since the club’s humble beginnings.
The next New York stop was Garden City Golf Club in 1902, where the “Old Man” Walter Travis, Jr. finished as the low amateur. Although this was the first and last time Garden City would hold the U.S. Open, twenty-one years later the inaugural New York State Men’s Amateur was held on the site and Eddie Driggs became the first male amateur to hoist the Ganson Depew Cup.
U.S. Open Championship history in New York would grow exponentially over the next hundred years.
Legendary amateur Bobby Jones won his first major during the U.S. Open at New York’s Inwood Country Club in an 18-hole playoff in 1923. After that win, he went on to win twelve more major championships (during that time) in twenty attempts before he retired in 1930, when he accomplished the Grand Slam. Jones won the Open again during a playoff in 1929 at Winged Foot, this time in 36-holes. The two wins in New York were the only major playoff wins Jones had, both in truly dramatic fashion.
During the championship at Country Club of Buffalo in 1912, 19-year-old John McDermott became the youngest winner of the tournament, a record that still stands today.
Twenty years later in 1932, the great Gene Sarazen won his fourth major and second U.S. Open at Fresh Meadow Country Club in Long Island.
In 1968 at Rochester’s famed Oak Hill Country Club, a young, second-year tour player Lee Trevino topped defending champion Jack Nicklaus by four-strokes for his first of six major wins. Oak Hill’s east course would go on to host the tournament two more times. The venue has also hosted the NYS Men’s Amateur six times and Women’s Amateur twice.
Bethpage State Park’s Black Course became the first publicly owned course to ever host the U.S. Open in 2002. The now world-renowned course was put on map and became a household name after popular Tiger Woods was victorious that year on the tough track. The USGA returned to the venue in 2009 where Lucas Glover won his lone major. This August, the 95th New York State Men’s Amateur Championship will pay its first visit to the well-respected venue. Additionally, it will be the first time the championship returns to Long Island in 50 years.
Other players who've won at New York venues include Tiger Woods and Lucas Glover at Bethpage, Curtis Strange and Cary Middlecoff at Oak Hill, Retief Goosen, Corey Pavin, Raymond Floyd and James Foulis at Shinnecock, Geoff Oglivy, Fuzzy Zoeller, Hale Irwin and Billy Casper at Winged Foot and Laurie Auchterlonie at Garden City Golf Club.
U.S. Open storylines in New York seem to happen time and time again, however, not every story is based on triumph.
Greg Norman finished as U.S. Open runner-up twice, first at Winged Foot in a playoff to Fuzzy Zoeller in 1984, and again eleven years later to Corey Pavin on the shores of Shinnecock. Throughout Norman’s incredible professional tenure, he was never able to capture a U.S. Open victory.
Phil Mickelson has won three out of the four major tournaments at least once, excluding the U.S. Open (although he’s come very close several times). He has finished runner-up six times, four of those on New York tracks. The most notable was in 2006 at Winged Foot where he collapsed down the stretch and double bogeyed the final hole to hand the win to Geoff Oglivy. The championship was Mickelson’s to win, and the victory would have bundled him with Tiger Woods and Ben Hogan as the only players to win three consecutive majors. A win would also have placed him into the group of five golfers to claim the Masters Era four major championships alongside Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen. He along with eleven others are just one major short of the incredible accolade.
If past circumstances are any sign of what’s ahead, us New Yorkers can look forward to many more great U.S. Open championships within the state. Three New York sites are already scheduled through the next decade and it would be hard to believe that the pattern will end there.
New York U.S. Open Championships
Bethpage State Park – 2009, 2002
Winged Foot Golf Club – 2006, 1984, 1974, 1959, 1929
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club – 2004, 1995, 1986, 1896
Oak Hill Country Club – 1989, 1968, 1956
Fresh Meadow Country Club – 1932
Inwood Country Club – 1923
Country Club of Buffalo – 1912
Garden City Golf Club – 1902
Future Sites in New York
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club – 2018, 2026
Winged Foot Golf Club - 2020