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USGA announces Four-Ball Championships
T.J. Vogel
T.J. Vogel
Originally reported in an exclusive interview with Golfweek, the USGA said it will cease the playing of the annual U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Women's Amateur Pubic Links Championships following 2014.

The events, which have lost some luster in recent years, will be replaced by a pair of Amateur Four-Ball Championships beginning in 2015.

It will be the first time the four-ball format will be played at the USGA's national level and shows that the USGA is gearing its operation to what is trending in the golf world.

Four-ball events have continued to grow in popularity and are a definite fixture in many state and regional events.

“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. in a press release. “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.”

The Pub-Links championship dates back to 1922. The women's event launched in 1977.
br> As Golfweek's Sean Martin writes, the public may assume that the USGA's decision to end the Pub-Links is because of the lack of the 'every man' appeal in the event.

Created as a national championship of sorts for regular, working citizens, the Pub-Links events have been dominated by elite NCAA players. University of Florida golfer T.J. Vogel (pictured above) won last year's event.

But the USGA says that the it first thought of ceasing the Public Links championships in 1979 --- the year it first opened other USGA championships to public-links players.

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 USGA’s national amateur four-ball championships will begin with sectional qualifying at dozens of sites across the nation. The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball and U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball will consist of 128 and 64 two-player teams respectively, each playing their own ball throughout the round. Each team’s score will be determined using their better-ball score for each hole. After 36 holes of stroke-play competition, the field will be reduced to the low 32 teams for the match- play portion of the championship. Host sites for the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship and U.S. Women’s Amateur Four- Ball Championship will be announced at a later date.

“We appreciate the support and energy that the USGA is bringing to these new four-ball national championships,” said Jim Demick, executive director of the Florida State Golf Association, who served on the advisory group of State and Regional Golf Association executives and tournament directors consulted by the USGA. “Along with my fellow associations around the country, we look forward to showcasing this unique brand of team competition through what promise to be first-class events.”

Information from the USGA's official press release was used in this report
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