Senior Women’s Amateur Adds to Waverley’s Impressive History September 8, 2017 | PORTLAND, Ore. By Tom Mackin

Waverley Country Club is hosting its seventh USGA championship with the 2017 Senior Women's Amateur, the most of any course in Oregon. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

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Few clubs in the Pacific Northwest, or the country for that matter, can match the rich history of Waverley Country Club, which opened in 1896. That legacy will be on display this week when the club hosts the 2017 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, its seventh USGA championship.

The oldest private club in Oregon, and the second-oldest of its kind west of the Mississippi River, Waverley Country Club sits on the east bank of the Williamette River, south of downtown Portland. Well known for superb course conditions, the club has a long history of hosting amateur golf events. That tradition began in 1897 with the club’s own Blyth Tournament, now the oldest amateur tournament west of the Mississippi River. The winner received a green jacket starting in 1930, an idea perhaps noticed by Bob Jones, who played the course later that decade and established his own green jacket tradition in 1949 at the Masters.

In 1903, the club became an official USGA Member Club, and a year later hosted the first Oregon State Amateur Championship, and has since hosted 23 more. Less than a month after losing to Francis Ouimet in the historic 1913 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Massachusetts, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray traveled to Waverley as part of a nationwide tour. The famous duo, who won their 36-hole match against Harry Davis and 1904 U.S. Amateur Champion H. Chandler Egan, later commented that the only thing the course lacked was more bunkers. Egan would spend the next decade adding those to the course. In 2012, Gil Hanse led a course restoration project, reestablishing greens and bunkers and removing trees to uncover long hidden river views.

The club’s USGA championship pedigree is equally impressive. Jackie Pung kicked things off by winning the 1952 U.S. Women’s Amateur, followed by the 1964 U.S. Senior Amateur, won by William Higgins, who defeated Waverley member Ed Murphy in the final match. In the 1970 U.S. Amateur, Lanny Wadkins, after setting a stroke-play record of 279 during an eight-year period in which the championship was conducted entirely at stroke play, beat Tom Kite by one stroke. In 1981, Juli Inkster captured the second of her three consecutive U.S. Women’s Amateur titles at Waverley, while Tiger Woods won his third consecutive U.S. Junior Amateur here in 1993. In 2000, Marcy Newton won the 100th U.S. Women’s Amateur to go with her 1995 U.S. Girls’ Junior victory.

2017 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship co-chair David Jacobsen, whose father joined Waverley in 1960, grew up around the club with his brother Peter, the 2004 U.S. Senior Open champion and TV golf analyst. David believes hosting amateur golf championships is in the club’s DNA.    

“We have a legacy of 100-plus years, and there is a responsibility to honor our ancestors here and to uphold the traditions of the game,” he said. “There is a sense of obligation to host championships like this week, but doing so reenergizes our enthusiasm for the game and helps us remember those who came before us. There’s also a sense of responsibility to give back to the game that has brought us so much.”

Tom Mackin is an Arizona-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA websites.

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