April 1, 2019 By: Ryan Herrington — Save for the eight years from 1965 to 1972 in which the U.S. Amateur was contested at stroke play, a 36-hole championship match to decide the winner has been a staple of the USGA’s oldest event. And each time the finale has been contested on a single course, playing the same 18-hole loop twice. But that tradition is set to change this summer at North Carolina’s Pinehurst Resort.
USGA officials announced on Tuesday that this year’s 36-hole championship match, set for Aug. 18, will be played over two courses: Pinehurst No. 4 for the morning 18 holes and then Donald Ross’ famed No. 2 course for the afternoon.
The departure from the past comes in the wake of architect Gil Hanse’s recent redesign of the resort’s No. 4 course. Since its re-opening in 2018, No. 4 has received near universal praise, leaving a strong enough impression to convince the USGA to experiment with using it to co-host the championship match.
“We very much like the work that Gil Hanse has done on No. 4,” said John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director, Championships. “It is a nice compliment to No. 2, provides a championship test that will challenge every aspect of their games, and is worthy of a U.S. Amateur final.”
Since 1979, the USGA has used two courses to host 36-hole stroke-play qualifying at the championship, allowing it to invite a field of 312 players and whittle that down to 64 golfers for match play. But from then on, the entirety of match play has been held at one course. The same will hold true this year until Sunday’s finale; the No. 2 and No. 4 courses will each be used for stroke-play qualifying with the five rounds of match play through the semifinals taking place on the No. 2 course.
The USGA has used Pinehurst as a venue to tinker with tradition in the past. In 2014, the governing body played the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open on the No. 2 course in consecutive weeks, a first in the association’s history. That turned out to be a one-time change, and USGA officials say that will likely be the same in this instance.
“It is unlikely that we will do this every year,” Bodenhamer said. “It will depend on numerous considerations including the venue, golf course preparations, broadcast logistics, and more.”
The USGA has announced the sites of the U.S. Amateur through 2026. Future venues include:
2020: Bandon (Ore.) Dunes Resort
2021: Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club
2022: Ridgewood (N.J.) Country Club
2023: Cherry Hills Country Club, Cherry Hills Village, Colo.
2024: Hazeltine National, Chaska, Minn.
2025: The Olympic Club, San Francisco
2026: Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Pa.
This year will be the third time Pinehurst has hosted the U.S. Amateur, with Labron Harris Jr. beating Downing Gray in the final in 1962 and Danny Lee defeating Drew Kittleson in 2008.