The U.S. Golf Association will stage a second back-to-back pairing of its prestigious U.S. Open and Women’s Open in Pinehurst in 2029.
“It’s the most frequent question we get, ‘Are you ever going to do the back-to-backs again?’ Well, we have your answer now,” said John Bodenhamer, chief championships director for the USGA, during an announcement Friday in New York.
The USGA, which is scheduled to open a second headquarters in Pinehurst by 2023, rolled out a series of announcements involving the elevation of the Women’s Open, which will next be contested in June at the Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in Southern Pines.
On January 7th, the USGA announced:
- The USGA will double prize money for the Women’s Open to $10 million, with plans to match the U.S. Open payout of $12 million over the next five years.
- The USGA has secured a major sponsorship — a “presenting partnership” — with ProMedica for the Women’s Open. It will take effect with this year’s Women’s Open, which comes with an increase of the winner’s share to $1.8 million.
Mike Whan, the former commissioner of the LPGA and now CEO for the USGA, said that the focus under his leadership for the women’s championships is that of “purpose, places and purse.” In keeping that mindset, Whan said he wanted to cherish the history the USGA has established, while also not being afraid to make more history.
The announcement “does a little of both,” he said.
But the main news, greeted with robust excitement by local officials, was the series of future dates for the U.S. Women’s Open.
The year 2029, previously blank, is now penciled in for Pinehurst Resort. The organization had previously announced it would contest the U.S. Open in Pinehurst in 2029, in addition to 2035, 2041 and 2047.
“We are honored to host our second U.S. Women’s Open in 2029 and humbled by the USGA’s decision to have Pinehurst host the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open over back-to-back weeks again,” Bob Dedman Jr., Pinehurst Resort’s Chief Executive Officer, said in a statement posted on the resort’s web site. “Having the world’s best male and female players here for two consecutive weeks was a historic and unforgettable experience in 2014. To know we will again see them interact and compete on the same course is awe-inspiring.
“We are grateful to the USGA for the opportunity to serve as the site for one of the most unique experiences in all of golf.”
The USGA has not staged back-to-back men’s and women’s championships since 2014, when it did so on the iconic No. 2 Course at Pinehurst Resort. The championships, won by Martin Kaymer and Michelle Wie, respectively, were widely praised for bringing more attention to golf generally and women’s golf specifically.
Whan said that the work done in those back-to-back opens was a challenge that turned into a “home run,” and for that reason made Pinehurst the ideal venue to host the historic feat once again.
“As an American, I think of Pinehurst as home. When I’m there, I feel like I’m at the home of American golf,” Whan said. “I’m really excited as a fan to go back-to-back.”
The purse increase with the partnership through ProMedica will increase from $5.5 million to $10 million when the top women’s golfers descend on the area the first week of June.
The announcement also continues the USGA’s extensive commitment to bring its golf championships to Moore County. Just last month, it announced a new championship — the U.S. Adaptive Open Championship — to be staged at Course No. 6 in Pinehurst this coming July and 2023, as well. This championship will be contested by the world’s best golfers with disabilities.
When the USGA announced its second headquarters for Pinehurst in 2020, it tapped Pinehurst No. 2 as the first of its “anchor sites” for future championships. Pinehurst has already played host to 13 USGA championships.
Regarding the new sponsorship with ProMedica, Whan said the partnership “allows us to substantially grow the championship in every way, from its purpose, to its purse, to the places that host the event.”
“While I’m incredibly proud of what we are announcing today,” he said, “I know this is just the beginning, as together with ProMedica, we’ll push to change the game and what it means to young women worldwide in order to reach new heights every year.”
(Original story from The Pilot)