The USGA has decided to reinforce its country club image by ending the Publinx Championships after 2014, saying that the US Amateur Public Links and Women’s Amateur Public Links Championships “no longer serve their original purpose.” That purpose was to offer a championship for players who didn’t belong to established USGA member country clubs.
The move apparently has been considered since 1979, when the USGA opened its championships to public links players.
John Bodenhammer, USGA managing director said “We kept coming back to the same place, which recognized that the barriers that necessitated the creation of these championships no longer existed, and that all players today have equal access to all USGA amateur championships.”
The Publinx was the USGA’s fourth oldest championship.
I see this as yet another bad publicity move for the USGA, and one likely driven by money. Whether the demographics of the players supported the image or not, the Publinx added a little blue collar flavor to the USGA’s tony country club image. It was thought of as the championship for the common man.
I’m convinced that this was purely a money move. The Publinx Championships are expensive, and there is no television revenue to be had—even with the 24/7 demand by the Golf Channel.
So much for growing the game of golf. This once again supports my belief that the USGA’s “For The Good of the Game” mantra actually should read “For The Good of High Revenue Championships For Highly Skilled Players.”
The one positive is that in its place, the USGA will introduce a four-ball championship. From the USGA press release:
Eligibility for both national four-ball championships will be limited to amateurs, with no age restrictions. Team partners will not be required to be from the same club, state or country, and substitution of partners will be permitted until the close of entries. Entry is limited to individuals with a USGA Handicap Index® not to exceed 5.4 for men and 14.4 for women.
The USGA’s national amateur four-ball championships will begin with sectional qualifying at dozens of sites across the nation. The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball and U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball will consist of 128 and 64 two-player teams respectively, each playing their own ball throughout the round. Each team’s score will be determined using their better-ball score for each hole. After 36 holes of stroke-play competition, the field will be reduced to the low 32 teams for the match-play portion of the championship.
Nice, but it doesn’t do much to mollify the country club image.
The elimination of the men’s APL also means one less Masters invitation to be handed out each year. The Masters should instead invite the reigning NCAA individual champion. THAT would really be interesting.