CHAMPIONSHIPS
A Legacy to Celebrate as State Teams Take Final Bow March 30, 2017 | Far Hills, N.J.

Texas claimed four titles in the 12 playings of the USGA Men's State Team, including 2014 at French Lick Resort in Indiana. (USGA/Chris Keane)

Looking for a fun and unique way to celebrate its centennial in 1995, the USGA presented the State Team Championships for men and women.

Embraced by players and state/regional golf associations who selected the three-person teams, the competition in Orlando Fla., which was intended to be a one-time event patterned after the World Amateur Team Championships, was such an overwhelming success that the USGA decided to continue it on a biennial basis.

Many states adopted a points system for its non-collegian elite amateurs – NCAA rules forbid any current players from participating – to make their teams, and in many cases these were hotly contested competitions.

But after a distinguished run, the State Team Championships are being retired after this year’s Women’s State Team at The Club at Las Campanas in Santa Fe, N.M., set for Sept. 26-28. Each event will have been contested 12 times. 

“The USGA continually evaluates its championships and the way in which they are conducted,” said Stuart Francis, USGA Championship Committee chairman. “The decision to discontinue the State Team Championships follows a thorough review and analysis, including consultation with representatives from state and regional golf associations.”

Last fall, Michigan won what was the last Men’s State Team Championship at the Country Club of Birmingham (Ala.) by three strokes over Arizona and North Carolina.

During its tenure, the State Team Championships saw all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico send teams to the competition, which used a 3-count-2 format to determine the team’s score for each round of the 54-hole event.

Celebrating the USGA State Team Championships

The retirement of the State Team Championships, coupled with the addition of the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open Championship, to be held on July 12-15 at Chicago Golf Club, in Wheaton, Ill., transforms the USGA championship model starting in 2018.

“The USGA expresses its gratitude to all the champions and competitors of the USGA State Team Championships, as well as the host clubs and the hundreds of volunteers who contributed their time and efforts,” said John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director, Championships and Governance. “In our reviews and discussions, it became quite clear that the conditions of competition had evolved, and there were significant differences in the respective team selection processes. After considering the matter for more than a year, the review supported increased focus toward other areas of USGA competition, both present and future, including the continued enhancement of the local and sectional qualifying experience for players across all USGA championships.”

Both championships boast a list of impressive performances over their histories. John Harris, the 1993 U.S. Amateur champion and four-time USA Walker Cup Team member, led Minnesota to Men’s State Team victories in 1997 and 2001. The 2003 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, Brandt Snedeker, who has won eight PGA Tour titles, and Tim Jackson, who owns a pair of U.S. Mid-Amateurs, helped Tennessee win the 2003 crown. Nathan Smith, a four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and a member of three USA Walker Cup Teams, helped Pennsylvania to the 2009 championship. Texas captured a record four Men’s State Teams, including 2007 when Trip Kuehne, who won that year’s Mid-Amateur and played on the victorious USA Walker Cup Team at Royal County Down, was a key figure.

Virginia won the inaugural Men’s State Team with the help of 1998 U.S. Amateur runner-up Tom McKnight and Keith Decker, the only player – male or female – to play in all 12 State Team Championships.

The Women’s State Team has also attracted an array of the game’s top players. World Golf Hall of Fame member Carol Semple Thompson, who has won seven USGA championships, including the 1973 U.S. Women’s Amateur, helped Pennsylvania garner the inaugural Women’s State Team in 1995. Virginia Derby Grimes, the 2018 USA Curtis Cup captain and 1998 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur winner, led Alabama to its lone title in 1997. Mariah Stackhouse, who became the first African American player to compete for the USA Curtis Cup Team in 2014 and led Stanford to the NCAA title the following year, helped Georgia to the second of its four State Team titles in 2009, while Margaret Shirley-Starosto, the 2014 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, contributed to the Peach State’s record fourth championship in 2015. Laura Coble, the 2009 Women’s Mid-Amateur runner-up, was part of Georgia’s first three winning entries.

With the addition of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open and discontinuation of the USGA State Team Championships, the USGA will conduct 14 championships in 2018.

2018 USGA Championships (14)

U.S. Open Championship, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton, N.Y., June 14-17
U.S. Women’s Open Championship, Shoal Creek (Ala.), May 31-June 3
U.S. Senior Open Championship, The Broadmoor Golf Club, Colorado Springs, Colo., June 28-July 1
U.S. Senior Women’s Open Championship, Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton, Ill., July 12-15
U.S. Amateur Championship, Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links, Aug. 13-19
U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, The Golf Club of Tennessee, Kingston Springs, Tenn., Aug. 6-12
U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, Poppy Hills Golf Course, Pebble Beach, Calif., July 16-21
U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, N.J., July 16-21
U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, Charlotte (N.C.) Country Club, Sept. 22-27
U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, Norwood Hills Country Club, St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 22-27
U.S. Senior Amateur Championship, Eugene (Ore.) Country Club, Aug. 25-30
U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship, Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club, Vero Beach, Fla., Oct. 6-11
U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, Jupiter Hills Club, Tequesta, Fla., May 19-23
U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship, El Caballero Country Club, Tarzana, Calif., April 28-May 2

 

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