PEABODY, MA. This week’s US Senior Open at Salem CC in Peabody shines a bright spotlight on the ongoing contributions made over the many years by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and its long time involvement with the game of golf. The return of the US Senior Open marks a second visit to the renowned Donald Ross design. The world’s finest professionals and amateurs, all at least 50 years of age, will be teeing it up with the opportunity to capture the most prestigious title in senior golf.
The golf connection in the Bay State is a strong one — stretching back to the infancy when golf in America emerged from its embryonic stage to what is now the leading country in the world with the most active players and total number of courses. Massachusetts has long played a role in golf’s development and the range of courses and significant championships held have impacted the golf scene in immeasurable ways.
In 1913, Francis Ouimet stunned the golfing world with his transformative victory in the US Open at The Country Club in Brookline. Ouimet bested the likes of Harry Vardon and Ted Ray and provided a Horatio Alger moment in going from the caddie yard all the way to US Open champion. The win opened the door for more Americans to take up the game and set the stage for such heavyweight golfers such as Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen to emerge in the 1920’s.
Before the 20th century concluded there was another major fireworks display at The Country Club when the USA squad, after trailing 10-6 going into the final singles play, made the greatest comeback at that time and recaptured the Ryder Cup over team Europe. Who can ever forget the lengthy putt sunk by Justin Leonard at the 17th hole which pushed the American squad over the top in reclaiming the most cherished team trophy in the sport.
Massachusetts has been host for the US Open on nine different occasions – the bulk coming before WWI. The most recent came in 1988 when Curtis Strange bested Nick Faldo in an 18-hole playoff at The Country Club. In five years the 2022 US Open will return again for the fourth time to the storied club in Brookline.
Professional golf has also been an ongoing element in Massachusetts. Pleasant Valley GC in Sutton hosted 47 PGA and LPGA tour events over the years starting in 1962 with the Lady Carling Open. Dell Technologies hosts the 2nd leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs during the Labor Day period at TPC / Boston in Norton. Prior to 2017 the event was long time sponsored by Deutsche Bank.
The Senior Open at host Salem CC marks the 5th USGA Championship held and second Senior Open. In terms of overall golf quality — 8 courses in the Bay State are among the top 100 classic courses by Golfweek. On the public scene there are a number of solid choices with the likes of George Wright municipal in Boston. The Donald Ross layout went through a recent upgrade and the course is clearly making major strides. There are a range of superior courses in the Cape Cod area as well in the interior of the State with the likes of Crumpin-Fox in Bernardston.
This week’s Senior Open will no doubt crown a most worthy champion but no less in stature is the role golf continues to play throughout the Commonwealth.
* Massachusetts golf at a glance *
States Hosting the Most USGA Championships
87 – Pennsylvania
76 – California
70 – New York
60 – Illinois / New Jersey
56 – Massachusetts
*Thru 2016 season
USGA CHAMPIONSHIPS IN MASSACHUSETTS
This will be the 57th USGA championship played in Massachusetts and the second U.S. Senior Open contested in the state. In 2001, Bruce Fleisher made par on the last four holes to post a one-stroke victory over Gil Morgan and win the U.S. Senior Open.
U.S. SENIOR OPENS IN NEW ENGLAND
1987: Brooklawn Country Club, Fairfield, Conn. (Gary Player by six strokes over Doug Sanders, 270-276)
2001: Salem Country Club, Peabody, Mass. (Bruce Fleisher by one stroke over Gil Morgan, Isao Aoki, 280-281)
Future USGA Championship in Massachusetts
2022: US Open / The Country Club, Brookline
2022: US Senior Amateur / The Kittansett Club, Marion
USGA CHAMPIONSHIPS AT SALEM COUNTRY CLUB
1932 U.S. Women’s Amateur: Virginia Van Wie def. Glenna Collett Vare, 10 and 8
1954 U.S. Women’s Open: Babe Didrikson Zaharias won by 12 strokes over Betty Hicks (291-303)
1977 U.S. Senior Amateur: Dale Morey def. Lewis W. Oehmig, 4 and 3
1984 U.S. Women’s Open: Hollis Stacy won by one stroke over Rosie Jones (290-291)
2001 U.S. Senior Open: Bruce Fleisher won by one stroke over Gil Morgan, Isao Aoki (280-281)