In 1948, the USGA inaugurated the U.S.
Amateur Championship to determine the
junior golfer in the United States and also
help junior golfers learn how to realize the
most from the game, win or lose.
The Junior Amateur was hardly the first
competition to attract a national field. The
Western Junior had been established in
In 1946, two more competitions appeared,
each with a claim on the national title. One
was sponsored by the U.S. Junior
Commerce, the other by the Hearst
The first Junior Amateur was played at the
University of Michigan Golf Course and
495 entries. The starting field of 128
was determined by sectional qualifying
at 41 sites. Dean Lind of Rockford, Ill., was
first champion. Lind defeated Ken Venturi,
San Francisco, a future U.S. Open
in the final.
By 1963, entries had surged to 2,230, a
for the 14th consecutive year. At the time,
there was no handicap limitation for
That changed in 1964 when a handicap
10 strokes was introduced. In 1996, the
championship attracted a record 3,489
Qualifying was conducted at 61 sites.
In 1978, the USGA conducted the Junior
Amateur over the South Course of the
Wilmington (Del.) Country Club, while the
Junior was being staged on the North
This was the first time the USGA
two national championships
the same golf club.
The Junior Amateur is among the most
of all USGA championships to win, because
two factors: the age limit and the
number of fine young players who enter
year. Only one player, Tiger Woods, of
Cypress, Calif., has won the Junior
more than once, winning in 1991, 1992,
1993. In fact, only five players have
the final twice.
Woods, who was 15 years, six months,
days old when he won in 1991, remains
The Junior Amateur has another, more
distinction. It is the only USGA
for which Jack Nicklaus has been eligible
he did not win at least once. Nicklaus
for the Championship five times. His best
came in 1956 when he was a semifinalist.
The Junior Amateur remains today an
educational opportunity as well as a
competitive outlet. Pre-championship
dinners have attracted guest speakers
Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, and Johnny
Miller, all willing to share their knowledge
experience with young players.