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31 May 2023
by Sean Melia of

Lake Merced will host the 2023 California State Am (Golfweek)
Lake Merced will host the 2023 California State Am (Golfweek)

For many amateurs, their state amateur championship is the pinnacle of their competitive season. Whether they're exempt or have to make it through a qualifying round, teeing it up against the best amateurs in the state is an exhilarating experience.

While the venue might be superfluous for some, the opportunity to play at public or private courses that sit at the top of the rankings and have hosted major championships for the professional or amateur ranks is certainly a bonus.

These ten courses stood out as incredible places that will delight and challenge the best amateurs in their respective state amateur championships.

California State Amateur (June 19-24)
Lake Merced Golf and Country Club

Replete with elevation changes and carved into tree-lined, manicured fairways, the Lake Merced is nationally recognized as a tough but fair test of golf. The course has undergone many changes over the year. In July of 1923, the original course designed by Willie Lock opened for play. Six years later, Dr. Alister MacKenzie, architect of Augusta National, was retained to improve the bunkers and areas around the greens. Dr. MacKenzie’s work improved upon what was already considered one of Northern California’s greatest golf course designs.

Most recently, Gil Hanse oversaw an entire course restoration. The team mimicked MacKenzie’s bunker design with classic cloud formations, sitting down into the green or floating above the grade, and restored the original dramatic gradation. It's been host to California State Amateurs in the past and also professional events.

Indiana Amateur Championship (June 19-21)
Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort; French Lick, Ind.

(Credit: French Lick Resort)
A town best known for birthing one of the greatest basketball players in history - Larry Bird, is also home to an incredible Pete Dye design that will surely challenge the best amateurs in the state this summer. When Dye initially visited the property, he decided it was too severe to build a golf course. After some more thought, Dye returned with a plan to "build the course whether they want me to or not."

Given the rugged terrain, Dye built a course fit for the 2015 Senior PGA Championship, just six years after it opened. Champion Colin Montgomerie called it "one of the iconic courses." Set on some of the highest land in Indiana, the course offers beautiful panoramic views of nearly 40 miles. A stark contrast the challenging shotmaking required to survive this tough test.

Massachusetts Amateur Championship (Jul 10 - Jul 14)
Essex County Club; Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass.

(Credit: Sean Melia)
Donald Ross kept a close eye on this dazzling course, as he lived on the property from 1909-1913. The house he lived in stands guard over the 15th tee and 16th green. Essex has hosted seven previous Massachusetts Amateur Championships, most recently in 2005 when Frank Vana Jr. a MassGolf Hall of Famer defended his 2004 title.

The history of the club is rich and deep; in 2010, the Curtis Cup was played at Essex CC. 117 years earlier, Margaret and Harriet Curtis fell in love with golf on the grounds of Essex CC. The likes of Jess Korda, Lexi Thompson, and Leona McGuire competed in the 2010 competition named after the two sisters who won four national titles and a slew of other golf events at the turn of the 20th century.

Michigan Amateur Championship (Jun 20 - Jun 24)
Oakland Hills CC - North Course; Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

(Credit: GolfPass)
While the South Course at Oakland Hills is the more famous of the two courses at Oakland Hills, the North Course is nothing to sneeze at. Like the South Course, the North Course was designed by Donald Ross. It has co-hosted two US Amateur championships over the last two decades (2002 and 2016).

The North Course was originally opened in 1924; however, in 1933 it was turned into a public access course named North Hill Golf Course. In 1967 the membership voted to reacquire the course and hired Robert Trent Jones to oversee a major renovation that rerouted some holes and added nearly 70 bunkers.

Missouri Amateur Championship (June 20-25)
Payne's Valley at Big Cedar Lodge; Hollister, Mo.

(Credit: Springfield News-Leader)
Competitors in the Missouri Amateur will have a fair bit of research material to prep for the first public access course that Tiger Woods ever designed. It played host to The Match. The course is set in the Ozarks on dramatic land that required plenty of machinery to carve out some of the holes.

The routing plays alongside dramatically exposed rock outcroppings, bold mountain ridges, sweeping valleys, pristine streams, and beautiful mature trees, creating a memorable backdrop for the 18-hole golf course. It also boasts a 19th-hole par three intended to settle any outstanding bets that might exist after 18 holes.

Ohio Amateur Championship (Jul 11 - Jul 14)
Canterbury GC; Beechwood, Ohio

(Credit: Canterbury GC)
An absolute gem in Ohio, Canterbury gives off a sense of Scottish golf, just as the designer Herbert Strong intended. The course rolls through nature landscape effortlessly. Canterbury has hosted the US Open, PGA Championship, Senior Open, US Amateur Championship, and Senior PGA Championship. It was also where Henry Picard, the 1938 Masters champion and 1939 PGA Champion, worked as the head professional. Every year, the club hosts amateurs from all over the country to compete in the Picard Cup in his honor.

Since a 2016 renovation, Canterbury is back to its original design and is regarded as one of the best courses in the Buckeye State.

Oklahoma State Amateur Championship (July 10-12)
Southern Hills CC; Tulsa, Okla.

(Credit: Southern Hills CC)
It's hard to pinpoint another instance where within 14 months a golf course hosted a professional major championship and a state amateur championship. Oklahoma's amateurs will have to earn their shot to compete where Justin Thomas won the 2022 PGA Championship. The 36-hole stroke play segment of the event will actually take place at Lincoln Park (West Course) and Muskogee Golf Club. Match Play will be held at Southern Hills.

After a major Gil Hanse renovation, Southern Hills has been restored to play as Perry Maxwell intended. Meandering streams and greenside run-off areas with short grass will test golfers' nerves off the tee and around the green.

Oregon Amateur Championship (June 19-24)
Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club - Witch Hollow Course; North Plains, Ore.

(Credit: Pumpkin Ridge)
The site of Tiger Woods' final US Amateur championship, Pumpkin Ridge seems to always dial up a little drama. In the 2003 U.S. Women's Open, Hillary Lunke captured her only major victory in a Monday playoff over Kelly Robbins and Angela Stanford.

Witch Hollow course blends seamlessly with its natural surroundings in the shadows of the Cascade Mountains. Woven through a tapestry of fir, maple, oak and ash trees with dramatic views of the Tualatin Hills, the course's undulating fairways, wide manicured greens, numerous wetland areas and variety of ponds, lakes and streams add to the layout's mystical allure and beauty.

Washington Amateur Championship (June 27-29)
Wine Valley Golf Club; Walla Walla, Wash.

(Credit: Wine Valley GC)
This relatively new addition to the Washington golf scene has ingratiated it with a host of golfers. It's wide-open design gives players a ton of options to attack the course. Mid-Am of the Year, Andrew Von Lassow called it one of his favorite courses in the state.

Their website says it best: "This stunning Dan Hixson design unfolds on a grand scale, playing over rolling hills in the shadow of the Blue Mountains. Each hole affords multiple lines of play, ensuring a pleasant round for every golfer and a true challenge for those who seek it."

West Virginia Amateur Championship text (May 28-31)
The Greenbrier - Old White Course; White Sulphur Springs, WV

This Golden Age C.B. McDonald gem boasts template holes like The Redan, The Eden, and The Alps. It has hosted The PGA Tour's A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier since 2010. It was the first of the three courses built on the resort and was named for the Old White House that stood on the grounds from 1858-1922. In 2016, the course sustained major damage from heavy rains and flooding. It took a year to bring the course back to full health. It's a tight, tree-lined test with bunkers and greens befitting the great designer. The opening hole is a brute - 449 yard dogleg that will set the tone for many of the competitors.

Wisconsin Amateur Championship (July 17-20)
Erin Hills Golf Course; Hartford, Wisc.

(Credit: Erin Hills)
Set in the southeastern corner of Wisconsin, just 45 minutes away from Milwaukee, Erin Hills has become a destination venue for golfers from around the world.

A brawny golf course that made its national debut when it hosted the 2017 U.S. Open, won by Brook Koepka. Erin Hills was designed with the U.S. Open in mind, meaning it was built with professional competition in mind along with the making it spectator friendly. The expansive course can stretch to 7,700 yards and the firm and fast design means it can play shorter that the scorecard indicates.

In 2022, the U.S. Mid-Am was hosted at Erin Hills. It was won by Matt McClean in an All-Irish final with Hugh Foley.

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