Alaska ‘Last Frontier’ For USGA Championships

March 30, 2010

By David Shefter, USGA

Far Hills, N.J. – And then there was one. Golf’s final frontier.

Or should we say “The Last Frontier.” That, after all, is the nickname given to our 49th state, Alaska.

The largest state in terms of land mass – it’s more than twice the size of Texas and features the longest coastline in the U.S. – also will be, by 2012, the only state to have never hosted a USGA championship. 

Recent site announcements of Soldier Hollow Golf Course in Midway, Utah (2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links), and the Golf Club of New England  in Stratham, N.H. (2012 U.S. Junior Amateur), place Alaska in a category by itself.

“There is interest,” said Ron Read, the USGA’s director of regional affairs, West Region on Alaska hosting a national championship.

Of course, Alaska’s location makes for logistical and agronomical issues.

Consider that the golf season is the shortest of any U.S. state – May to the end of September – leaving a very small window of opportunity.

And with a dearth of championship-quality courses, the options for a USGA competition are slim.

Former USGA Green Section agronomist Matt Nelson wrote in an e-mail that “Weather is hugely iffy …The conditions would be a little more Spartan than most players would be used to.”

Larry Gilhuly, a Green Section agronomist based in the Pacific Northwest, said that August would be the only feasible month in which a national championship could be conducted. “July is too early and September too late,” he said.

Alaska hasn’t been totally shut out from the USGA experience. Local U.S. Open qualifiers are annually held there, as well as sectional qualifying for the U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links. Interestingly, the state doesn’t have a single private facility and some of the best courses are on military bases (Eagle Glen at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage and Chena Bend at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks).

“Having played in several championships and currently a member of the U.S. Mid-Am [Championship] Committee, I know what a big job it would be,” said Greg Sanders, an Alaska resident, in an e-mail. “[It’s] not insurmountable though. In the past, we’ve talked about the APL as a good fit, especially since there are no private courses in the state. The Junior Amateur is interesting to me since that would mean a really cool trip to Alaska for parents and family.”

The last time the USGA ventured from the Lower 48 was the 1998 WAPL at Kapalua in Hawaii. Hawaii has hosted six USGA championships – four APLs and two WAPLs. The state has also produced a plethora of talented players, including recent USGA champions Michelle Wie, Kimberly Kim and Casey Watabu, as well as two-time USGA champion and Curtis Cup participant Lori Castillo.

Alaska can’t boast of any star golfers, but it has produced hockey standout Scott Gomez, NBA star Carlos Boozer and Olympic gold medalist Tommy Moe.

Of course, should a USGA event ever come to Alaska, there’s one thing it can offer that no other state has in the summer: midnight sun.

David Shefter is a USGA communications staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at dshefter@usga.org.

 

Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
Chevron
   

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.

Chevron image
Rolex
   

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.



Rolex image
IBM
   

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, www.usopen.com, 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 http://www.usopen.com/IBM

AmEx image
Lexus
   

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 http://www.lexus.com/

AmEx image
American Express
   

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 www.americanexpress.com/entertainment


AmEx image