- Secession Golf Club photo
It's a well-known fact that the top USGA qualifying sites fill up quickly.
Last year, it took less than two minutes
for the U.S. Mid-Am qualifier at the famed Valley Club in Montecito, California to sell out. For those lucky enough to get in, the chance to qualify for a USGA event came with the opportunity to play a course so exclusive that if you don't know a member, you'll likely never stroll the fairways, let alone play 18 holes of golf there.
Attempting to qualify for the 2023 U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club means entering local qualifying for most players. As the opening day for entries to be accepted approaches on February 22
, here are a few staff-favorite host clubs we spotted on the USGA website.
MAY 3, 2023 -- THE PRESERVE GOLF CLUB -- Carmel, California
The Preserve Golf Club (AmateurGolf.com photo)
The Santa Lucia Mountains provide a dramatic backdrop for The Preserve Golf Club. The Tom Fazio-designed course meanders through stands of massive ancient oaks, beautiful rolling meadows, ponds, and streams. The Preserve hosts the west coast's premier Mid-Amateur event each year -- The Stocker Cup -- and will certainly be a preferred qualifying site for Stocker tournament champions like former Cal golfer Michael Jensen
. The greens are fast and undulating and demand precise approach shots to provide good looks at birdie. Speed control and confidence on the five-footers are a must. Keep in mind that the drive from the entry to The Preserve to the Club is less than 10 miles, but will take you about 30 minutes. Take your time, enjoy the drive through a postcard-like setting, avoid the wildlife, and arrive relaxed and ready to play.
Related: Scenes from The Preserve: Jensen repeats at the 30th Stocker Cup
MAY 8, 2023 -- SECESSION GOLF CLUB -- Beaufort, South Carolina
Secession Golf Club's 18th hole (AmateurGolf.com)
If you feel like a challenging test would separate you from the competition, Secession is your qualifying site. The club is named for the Secession House in nearby Beaufort, where the first meetings were held for South Carolina to formally secede from the United States before the start of the Civil War. Indeed there were some conflicts in the club's early days as well. When architect Pete Dye disagreed with the original developers, they hired Australian legend Bruce Devlin to finish the job. Devlin added sod-walled pot bunkers, and gave the low-lying course a links-like feel in places. But when you step onto the 17th tee, trying to keep your good round going, you'll have to hit a shot to an island green, much like the TPC Sawgrass, only shorter. Once you get by that, you'll face a hole similar to the finisher at that same TPC, a dogleft left just tempting you to cut the corner over the water. Play too far right, and you'll be in the trees with an uncompromising approach. Golf Digest says, "Secession demands a complete game, both aerial and ground, particularly in steady ocean breezes."
MAY 9, 2023 -- ORCHARDS GOLF CLUB -- South Hadley, Mass.
Orchards Golf Club (OrchardsGolf.com)
In golf, the term "hidden-gem" is perhaps one of the most overused descriptions of a course. But The Donald Ross design at Orchards in Western Massachusetts certainly fits the bill. Having hosted the Mass. Amateur and a number of other prestigious events, The forest-carved fairways played host to the U.S. Women's Open in 2004 and it's no secret that the tight fairways were perfect for Annika Sorenstam's precision game. Sure enough, Sorenstam contended for the title and finished second, but Meg Mallon was holding her second U.S. Women's Open trophy at the end of the week. The Orchards will favor a player who can find fairways and one who can handle chipping around the raised Donald Ross greens, which can be diabolical at times, all but solidly struck approach shots.
MAY 10, 2023 -- OMAHA COUNTRY CLUB -- Omaha, Nebraska
The demanding Omaha Country Club (OmahaCC.org)
The 2021 U.S. Senior Open site proved to be a popular host, with Jim Furyk rising to the top and hoisting the trophy. Furyk, who became just the eighth man to win both the U.S. Open and Senior Open, found the golf course demanding.
"This is a dangerous golf course – you’re not worried about making low scores; you’re worried about making ‘others.’"
Omaha CC won't be set up for an Open Championship, but you can still expect some thick, healthy rough around the greens. The course was designed by famed architect Perry Maxwell, designer of countless courses in Oklahoma and the midwest, including the original nine at Prairie Dunes in Kansas.
MAY 16, 2023 -- THE CLUB AT OLDE STONE -- Bowling Green, Kentucky
The Club at Olde Stone hosted the 2022 U.S. Girls' Junior
Another course with a USGA championship pedigree, The Club at Olde Stone hosted the U.S. Girls' Championship
in 2022. Perennially ranked as one of Kentucky's best, the club was designed by Arthur Hills, and recognized as one of the ten best new private courses in 2007 (before the Great Recession, when private clubs were opening in large numbers). The courses's newly-installed Zoysia fairways and classic bentgrass greens are dotted with 99 bunkers. If you like the perched lies that Zoysia can provide, and have a solid bunker game, Olde Stone might be the site for you. Long hitters will have an advantage if the course is set up to its maximum yardage, which tips out at 7400 yards!
To see the list of U.S. Open Local and Final qualifying sites, go to the USGA Championship Applications page
ABOUT THE U.S. Open
The U.S. Open is the biggest of the 14 national
championships conducted by the USGA.
to amateurs and professionals.
The USGA intends to make the U.S. Open
most rigorous, yet fair, examination of golf
skills, testing all forms of shot-making. The
USGA prepares the course after careful
consideration of 14 different factors.
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