Part of what makes the Masters appointment viewing every year is the fact that the golf course plays such a significant role in the action. Yes, we are intrigued by who might play well, but what truly captivates us is how they play iconic holes like the 12th, 13th, 15th and many more. The fact that we see Augusta National on our TV screens every year helps us become familiar with a course we may never play or even see in person. Nonetheless, that familiarity makes us feel more invested as fans. The better we know a course hosting a big event, the more excited we'll be to see how players tackle it.
The USGA is beginning to understand this dynamic. On Wednesday, they tapped Pebble Beach Golf Links as the third 'anchor site' for the U.S. Open, awarding the historic and spectacular California coastal gem the 2027, 2032, 2037 and 2044 U.S. Opens.
The two five-year separations between Pebble Beach's next three turns as U.S. Open host matches the gap between the next two U.S. Opens to be held at fellow anchor site Pinehurst No. 2, in 2024 and 2029. The third anchor site announced so far, Oakmont Country Club, will have had gaps of nine, eight, nine and seven years before its next four US. Opens in 2025, 2033, 2042 and 2049.
U.S. Open rota coalescing
As it stands, the host courses for 19 of the next 30 U.S. Opens through 2051 have been announced. Of those 19, 12 are spoken for by the three current anchor sites, and four more - two each - have been awarded to Merion Golf Club's East Course (2030, 2050) and Oakland Hills Country Club's South Course (2034, 2051). While not announced as anchor sites, both of these golf courses have storied U.S. Open histories and make great additions to what is clearly becoming a loose U.S. Open rota, more flexible than the Open Championship's but with the potential to give long-term golf fans the sort of familiarity with great courses that will elevate the experience of the event on TV and in person.
Now, the next nearest unfilled U.S. Open dates are 2028, 2031 and 2036. Whether these will be hosted by yet-to-be-announced U.S. Open anchor sites or more one-off hosts remains to be seen. USGA co-founding Shinnecock Hills Golf Club will host the 2026 U.S. Open, and after an exciting 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club, it would seem likely that the classic A.W. Tillinghast-designed West Course should get another chance to host the tournament after its most recent one had to be moved and played without spectators.
One missing element from the calendar remains municipal courses like Torrey Pines South, Chambers Bay and Bethpage Black. Bethpage is now more closely linked to the PGA of America with its 2025 Ryder Cup duties coming up, and with Pebble Beach's apparent establishment as the go-to West Coast U.S. Open venue for the foreseeable future, it seems that Torrey Pines and Chambers Bay may be out of luck for a while, as the next three open Open dates either precede or succeed another West Coast Open.
Would the USGA double up in either of these spots? It might be worthwhile for the prime-time TV-viewing possibilities and for seizing an opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to municipal golf by holding the U.S. Open at publicly-owned golf courses on occasion. Even so, the USGA deserves credit for making two of its three anchor sites resorts, where rank-and-file golfers can visit, albeit at a hefty cost.
More great news for the visibility of women's golf
Pebble Beach becomes an anchor site not only for the U.S. Open, but for the U.S. Women's Open as well. It will host the first of four promised championships for the ladies in 2023, with the USGA also announcing it as the host of the 2035, 2040 and 2048 U.S. Women's Opens. These championships will be appointment-viewing for avid golf fans as well.
In addition to a slew of championships, the USGA is partnering with Pebble Beach resorts to create research and career opportunities around turfgrass development and water conservation. Water's preciousness as a resource, especially in California, is on the rise, and it is wise for the USGA to base some of its efforts to moderate the necessary water inputs on golf courses around a Golden State golf icon.
Finally, not to be overlooked in Wednesday's announcement is the inclusion of Spyglass Hill as the host site of both the U.S. Senior Women's Open and the U.S. Senior Open in 2030. Those championships will run back-to-back in the similar fashion as the U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in consecutive weeks in 2014. That plan is expected to be repeated at Pinehurst in 2024.