SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (Feb. 23, 2012) -- The San Francisco City Championship was inaugurated in 1917 and is the country's oldest municipal golf tournament. The Women's division was added in 1958. In its early years, the tournament was hosted by the Sun-Bulletin newspaper and has had numerous presenting sponsors throughout its history including Varner-Ward Leasing, Roos Atkins, Tom Culligan, Pepsi, and Visa.
The field is primarily comprised of Northern California's finest amateur golfers; however, players of national and international heritage occasionally contest for the title simple known as "The City." As a matter of fact, the 1999 field included Mark Murphy of Waterville, Ireland, who made it to the quarterfinals before being ousted in a nail-biter by Gary Vanier. (Vanier eventually lost to Randy Haag in what was called the best final since Ken Venturi beat Harvey Ward in 1956 in front of 12,000 fans.)
Another thing that makes the City Championship a unique event is the inclusion of an "Open" Division, allowing for golfers of varying abilities to compete. The top two flights in the Open Division, named the "Venturi" and "Susko" respectively, are named for two of the tournaments' most popular competitors, Ken Venturi and John Susko, the latter of whom met an untimely death from Crohn's disease in 1983. Susko is remembered as a popular Lincoln Park golfer who won the City Championship in 1978 and 1980, won the Alameda Commuters in 1981, and participated in a number of National amateur events even with a condition that often sidelined him for weeks at a time.
Those familiar with the City Championship will tell you about the tradition of playing the ball as it lies at San Francisco's Lincoln and Harding Park Golf Courses in less than ideal conditions. More than one player has marched in to the tournament office claiming that they will never play again, but their applications usually find their way in the following year. Conditions are the same for everyone; the ability to accept the occasional bad break is paramount to a competitor's success.
Past champions include 1964 US Open Champion Ken Venturi, 1999 US Women's Open Champion Juli Inkster, and 1969 Masters Champion George Archer. More recently, LPGA Tour player Dorothy Delasin* of Daly City (winner of the 1998 US Junior Girls Championship and 1999 US Women's Amateur) claimed the Women's City Championship in 1998.
The men's championship field is so large that many players must endure two qualifiers to just make it to match play. The field is open to the first 240 entries. Of those 240 entries, 96 contestants will proceed directly into the Championship qualifying based upon the exempt categories or by earliest date entry received.. The balance of contestants shall compete in a one round prequalifying competition at Lincoln Park Golf Course.
The low 48 qualifiers on Friday shall advance to the weekend qualifying at Lincoln Park and Harding Park Golf Course. Over the weekend, the low 31 scores completing the 36-hole qualifying from the field of 144 contestants will advance to match play at Harding Park along with the defending champion, who shall hold the number 1 seed for match play. Individual scores will determine the seeding for match play.
The matches continue the following two weekends until the champion is crowned.