USGA History: 1971 - 1990

  • Lee Trevino becomes the first player to win the U.S., British, and Canadian Open with his three victories in a four-week stretch. Tiger Woods would match that feat in 2000.
  • Astronaut Alan Shepard takes the game to new frontiers by hitting a 6-iron shot during a walk on the moon.
  • With his PGA Championship victory, Jack Nicklaus becomes the first player to win all the majors twice.
  • The number of golfers in the U.S. has doubled in the last 10 years - there are now 10 million.

  • Jack Nicklaus wins The Masters and U.S. Open, then is thwarted in his bid for the Grand Slam by Lee Trevino in the British Open.
  • The Colgate-Dinah Shore Winners Circle debuts on the LPGA Tour, offering the first six-figure purse in women's golf -- $110,000.
  • Spalding introduces the two-piece Top-Flite ball, constructed with a solid core inside a durable synthetic cover.
  • Title IX legislation is passed by Congress, forcing colleges to provide more opportunities for female athletes. The expansion of women's college golf increases the talent pool of the LPGA Tour.
  • Carolyn Cudone wins her fifth consecutive USGA Senior Women's Amateur, a record for any USGA event.

  • Johnny Miller becomes the U.S. Open Champion, firing a record 63 in the final round at Oakmont.
  • Tom Weiskopf takes five tournaments, including the British Open, in a two-month stretch.
  • Gene Sarazen, age 71, scores an ace on the "Postage Stamp" hole during the British Open at Royal Troon.
  • Ben Crenshaw bursts onto the PGA Tour by winning his first event as a member, the San Antonio Texas Open.
  • The U.S. Amateur returns to match play; the winner is Craig Stadler.
  • Kathy Whitworth is the LPGA Player of the Year for the seventh time in eight years.
  • The graphite shaft is introduced.

  • Johnny Miller wins eight PGA Tour events.
  • Deane Beman becomes Commissioner of the PGA Tour.
  • The Tournament Players Championship makes its debut.
  • The Muirfield Village Golf Club, designed by Jack Nicklaus and Desmond Muirhead, opens near Nicklaus' hometown of Columbus, Ohio.
  • Sandra Haynie sweeps the U.S. Women's Open and LPGA Championship.

  • Jack Nicklaus wins his fifth Masters in a classic battle with Tom Weiskopf and Johnny Miller. Nicklaus also takes his fourth PGA Championship.
  • Lee Elder becomes the first African-American to play in The Masters.
  • Nineteen-year-old Amy Alcott wins in just her third LPGA Tour event.

  • Ray Floyd wins The Masters with a record tying 271 total.
  • Judy Rankin, with $150,734 in earnings, becomes the first LPGA Tour player to earn more than $100,000 in a season.
  • The USGA adopts the Overall Distance Standard for golf balls, limiting them to 280 yards under standard test conditions.
  • Jack Nicklaus leads the PGA Tour in earnings for the eighth and final time.

  • Al Geiberger is the first PGA Tour player to break 60, shooting a 59 in the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic.
  • Tom Watson hits the big time, besting Jack Nicklaus in both The Masters and the British Open. Watson's 268 sets a British Open record.
  • The U.S. Open is the first American golf event to provide television coverage of all 18 holes.
  • A major championship is decided by sudden death for the first time when Lanny Wadkins beats Gene Littler in the PGA Championship at Pebble Beach.

  • Nancy Lopez gives the LPGA Tour a boost by winning five tournaments in a row, and nine in all, during her first full season.
  • Gary Player takes his third Masters by shooting a 64 in the final round, then wins the next two events as well.
  • Jack Nicklaus's third British Open title gives him at least three wins in all four majors.
  • The Legends of Golf debuts, an event that will lead to the birth of the Senior Tour (now called the Champions Tour).

  • TaylorMade introduces its first metal wood. In the next decade, metal woods will become predominant.
  • The USGA plants a tree overnight at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio to block a shortcut taken by several players in the first round of the U.S. Open.
  • Sixty-seven-year-old Sam Snead shoots a 66 during the Quad Cities Open.
  • Twenty-two-year-old Seve Ballesteros wins the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

  • Jack Nicklaus captures the U.S. Open (his fourth) and PGA Championship (his fifth) at age 40. He shoots a U.S. Open record 272 in the Open at Baltusrol and ties the 18-hole record with a 63.
  • The USGA adds the U.S. Senior Open to its list of Championships. Roberto De Vicenzo is the inaugural Champion.
  • Tom Watson leads the PGA Tour money list for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year. He wins six U.S. events and the British Open.
  • The Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass, designed by Pete Dye, opens near Jacksonville, Fla. It is the first "stadium course," and the first course of the PGA Tour's TPC network.
  • The USGA introduces the golf ball Symmetry Standard to the Rules of Golf.

  • Kathy Whitworth is the first woman golfer to top $1million in career earnings.
  • The USGA adds the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship for players 25 and older, an event in which career amateurs won't have to face college golfers, who often dominate the U.S. Amateur.
  • Tom Kite finishes in the top 10 in 21 of 26 tournaments and leads the PGA Tour money list.

  • Tom Watson takes his only U.S. Open, chipping in on the 71st hole to beat Jack Nicklaus at Pebble Beach.
  • Juli Inkster takes her third consecutive U.S. Women's Amateur, the first to accomplish this feat in 48 years.
  • Kathy Whitworth breaks Mickey Wright's record for career LPGA victories by winning her 83rd event. She will later take five more.
  • Jan Stephenson wins the LPGA Championship, and the next year, the U.S. Women's Open.

  • For the fifth time, Tom Watson is the British Open champion.

  • Golf instruction videotapes begin to hit the market.
  • Hollis Stacy takes her third U.S. Women's Open to go with her three U. S. Girls' Junior titles.
  • Forty-year-old Lee Trevino is the PGA titleholder, giving him two U.S. Open, British Open, and PGA titles.

  • The USGA introduces the Slope System to adjust handicaps according to the difficulty of the course being played.
  • Europe beats the U.S. in the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1957 (the Great Britain and Ireland team was expanded to include all of Europe in 1979). Two years later, the European team wins for the first time on U.S. soil.
  • T.C. Chen drops a four-stroke lead in the U.S. Open at Oakland Hills by double-hitting a chip shot and making a quadruple bogey on the fifth hole. Andy North wins the championship.

  • Forty-six-year-old Jack Nicklaus wins his sixth Masters and 18th professional major.
  • Forty-three-year-old Ray Floyd wins the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., the first Open played at the club in 90 years.
  • Bob Tway holes out from a greenside bunker on the 72nd hole to break a tie and beat Greg Norman in the PGA Championship.
  • Pat Bradley wins three LPGA majors - the Nabisco Dinah Shore, LPGA Championship, and du Maurier Classic.
  • Greg Norman wins nine events worldwide (two in the U.S., three in Europe, and four in Australia).
  • There are now 20 million golfers and 12,384 courses in the U.S.

  • Larry Mize beats Greg Norman in a sudden-death playoff at The Masters by holing a 100-foot pitch on the second extra hole.
  • Judy Bell becomes the first woman elected to the USGA Executive Committee.
  • The PGA Tour tops $30 million in prize money; the new season-ending Nabisco Championship is the first $2 million event.
  • Nick Faldo pars all 18 holes of the final round in the British Open to win his first major.
  • Craig Stadler is disqualified from the Shearson Lehman Brothers Andy Williams San Diego Open for kneeling on a towel to play a shot, then signing an incorrect scorecard.

  • Mary Bea Porter interrupts her qualifying round for the LPGA's Standard Register Classic to resuscitate a boy who had fallen into a nearby swimming pool.
  • Seve Ballesteros wins his third British Open - one of seven victories during the year in seven different countries.
  • Curtis Strange becomes the first player to collect $1 million in season earnings on the PGA Tour.
  • The groove wars begin. The USGA rules that Ping Eye2 irons don't conform to the Rules because the grooves are too close together. Karsten Manufacturing, maker of Ping, files suit. A settlement will be reached in 1990 under which new Pings are modified to conform and existing Pings are deemed acceptable.

  • The PGA Tour announces it will ban square-groove irons next year, but Karsten Manufacturing wins a court injunction against the move. Four years later, in an out-of-court settlement, the Tour reverses itself and permits square grooves.
  • Curtis Strange wins his second consecutive U.S. Open, the first to do so since Ben Hogan (1950 and 1951).

  • After a controversy at the PGA Championship site Shoal Creek Country Club in Birmingham, Ala., the PGA of America and PGA Tour announce they will not play tournaments at clubs that have no African-American or women members.
  • Robert Gamez beats Greg Norman in the Nestle Invitational by holing a seven-iron from 176 yards on the 72nd hole.
  • Hale Irwin, at age 45, becomes the oldest U.S. Open winner.
  • Nick Faldo becomes the first player since Jack Nicklaus (1965 and 1966) to capture consecutive Masters titles. He also wins the British Open.
  • Phil Mickelson sweeps the U.S. Amateur and NCAA Championship, a feat not accomplished since Jack Nicklaus.
  • The R&A adopts the American-sized ball (1.68 inches) as standard all over the world.


Partner Links
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The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

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Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

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IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website,, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit

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Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit

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Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit

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