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2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines ends run of majors held on public courses

Following a series of major championships hosted at municipal golf courses, the USGA and PGA of America are reverting to private roots.

Torrey Pines features public courses
Courtesy Torrey Pines

Jon Rahm’s first major championship may prove to be memorable in more ways than one. The 26-year-old Spaniard won the 2021 United States Open Championship at the Torrey Pines- South Course.

“It is no coincidence that we are conducting the U.S. Open this year at a municipal course,” United States Golf Association President Stu Francis said prior to the tournament. “California boasts more municipal golf courses than any other state. It’s a purposeful statement, and we believe golf should be open, providing affordable, safe recreation for communities across America. Revenues from Torrey Pines fund and fuel so many terrific programs for city residents.”

That may be true, but Rahm’s one-shot win over South African Louis Oosthuizen just outside of San Diego will be the last time a non-private course hosts a major championship in the next six years when Pebble Beach hosts the 2027 U.S. Open.

Pebble Beach features public courses

Courtesy Pebble Beach Golf Links

The six year run of exclusively private courses hosting golf’s major tournaments is the longest stretch since the seven year gap between Tiger Woods’ win at the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black and Lucas Glover’s lone major championship at the same venue.

Both the United States Golf Association and the PGA of America staged major championships at non-private courses in recent years. Along with this year’s U.S. Open, the USGA held the national championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links in 2019, Erin Hills Golf Course in 2017 and Chambers Bay Golf Course in 2015.

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The U.S. Open will return to its roots in the time between Pebble Beach hosts again in 2027. The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. – site of Francis Ouimet’s famous upset in the 1913 U.S. Open — will host the tournament for the fourth time next year. In 2024, Pinehurst No. 2 will host for the fourth time and the 125th U.S. Open will be the tenth contested at Pennsylvania’s Oakmont Country Club.

Though the 2019 and 2020 PGA Championship were contested on public courses, the PGA of America will be played on private courses until at least 2030. Instead, venerable courses like Valhalla (2024) and The Olympic Club (2028) are intertwined with relatively new classics like Quail Hollow (2025) and the yet-to-be-completed PGA Frisco (2027).

Harding Park public courses

The Harding Park Course courtesy PGA

The golf industry may be booming as America emerges from the pandemic. Rounds played at both private and public courses are on the rise.

Meanwhile, USGA Senior Managing Director of Championships John Bodenhamer extolled Torrey Pines as a cathedral of golf shortly before the 2021 U.S. Open tournament, while the organization is closing the doors to that church for the next half decade.

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