Many Happy Returns
Coupled with the inherent excitement of high-stakes competition, one of the great thrills of playing in TGA Major Championships is the opportunity to experience many of our spectacular Member Clubs. For more than a century, the state’s most historic and challenging courses have hosted the TGA’s biggest events. It’s an honor for the TGA to work in a collaborative effort with its Member Clubs to stage these championships.
The TGA’s annual competitions calendar always boasts a compelling lineup of host clubs. Sometimes, though, the scheduling components align just so to produce a “vintage year,” in which the major venues offer up a wonderful blend of architectural styles ranging from masterpieces of yesteryear to modern-day showpieces.
This year is one of those times.
From June 18-21, the 111th Texas Amateur will be played at Boot Ranch Golf Club outside of Fredericksburg. The oldest and most prestigious men’s amateur event in the state, a 72-hole, stroke play affair, brings a Major Championship back to the Hal Sutton-designed Hill Country gem for the first time since the 2010 Texas Mid-Amateur.
Sutton, whose 14 PGA Tour wins includes the 1983 PGA Championship, designed Boot Ranch in 2006, and it quickly garnered national acclaim. The sprawling, tree-lined course has been a staple inside Golf Digest’s Top 10 courses for Texas. Closer to home, the Dallas Morning News ranked Boot Ranch No. 9 in Texas in its most recent Top 100 poll.
“Boot Ranch is a very fair, but tough test of golf,” said Alex Rhyne, the club’s Head Professional. “The long bombers do not have a hands-down advantage because of the wonderful design. All the par-5s are guarded short of the green to take away the potential of making a lot of eagles. The players with the real advantage are those who can score with their short irons and wedges.”
Three weeks after the next Texas Amateur champion is crowned, the 99th Women’s Texas Amateur heads to the University of Texas Golf Club in Austin from July 7-10. The last women’s Major Championship held on the Bechtol Russell Golf Design’s 2003 challenging layout was the 89th Women’s Texas Amateur in 2010.
The longest-running and most celebrated women’s championship in Texas is a match play competition. After an 18-hole qualifying round, 32 players advance to the Championship Bracket. It takes five match play victories in three days to claim the title. UT Golf Club’s head professional Greg Garner said the course’s strategic character requires precision approach shots and a soft touch around the undulating green complexes, the exact same skill set needed to succeed at Boot Ranch.
“It favors someone with a great short game,” Garner said. “The landing areas off the tee are fairly generous, but holes narrow around the greens. It will favor someone with an array of shots around the greens along with a good putting performance.”
It will be a summer to remember for players, guests and volunteers alike at both the 111th Texas Amateur and 99th Women’s Texas Amateur. When highly accomplished men and women amateur golfers assemble for a Major Championship on a truly spectacular course, the ending almost always results in unforgettable drama and awe-inspiring heroics.
“Boot Ranch and UT Golf Club obviously are two of the top venues in all of Texas,” said Kellen Kubasak, Director of Competitions for the TGA. “We always try to take our biggest events to the best courses so our competitors can be tested by – and treated to – the best Texas has to offer. These two courses in particular always are on our wish list. We’re thrilled to be headed back to Boot Ranch and UT Golf Club. Both venues will challenge even the very best players.”
Four more of the 2020 Major Championships will make triumphant returns to familiar grounds.
The Legends Junior Tour’s Veritex Bank Byron Nelson Junior Championship will be played at iconic Lakewood Country Club in Dallas from June 2-4. This year marks the 21st playing of the state’s most competitive boys-only event. During that span, the championship was played away from Lakewood just twice. It moved to Mira Vista Country Club in Fort Worth in 2012 after a hailstorm severely damaged Lakewood’s putting surfaces. Two years later in 2014, the LJT’s crown jewel was played at Northwood Country Club in Dallas during Lakewood’s most recent renovation.
With notable past champions such as Jordan Spieth (2008-10), Cody Gribble (2007), Ryan Grider (2015) and Pierceson Coody (2018), it’s easy to see why the Veritex Bank Byron Nelson Junior Championship is so highly regarded.
The LJT’s Texas Junior Amateur – set for July 27-29 – heads back to Horseshoe Bay Resort for the third time in past four years. Historically, the Texas Junior Amateur is the biggest event of the season in terms of number of players. Nearly 300 boys and girls aged 18 and younger gather every year to compete across four divisions for separate titles.
Later in the year, the Texas Senior Amateur will be played from Sept. 25-27 at Ridgewood Country Club in Waco. The last time a major was played on the beautiful lakeside course was in 2015 when Annika Clark won the 94th Women’s Texas Amateur. The 2019 Texas Super Senior Amateur Championship also was played at Ridgewood.
“I putted the best in my life at Ridgewood, and I owe it to their smooth, quick and true-rolling greens,” Clark said. “The tee shots demand commitment because players don’t need to hit driver on every hole, but they must commit to their lines once they choose a club.”
From Oct. 2-4, the Texas Mid-Amateur rolls into Oak Hills Country Club in the heart of San Antonio. The last Major Championship played on the 1922 A.W. Tillinghast time-honored design was the 107th Texas Amateur, won by current professional Fred Wedel.
Loaded with golf history, the treelined course with heavy rough and small, canted greens played host to the PGA Tour’s first Tour Championship back in 1987 and was won by World Golf Hall of Famer Tom Watson with a birdie on the final hole. The PGA Tour’s Texas Open was played at Oak Hills 23 times from 1961-1994. It also hosted a Champions Tour event from 2002-10, as well as the 2001 U.S. Junior Amateur. As it always does, Oak Hills will provide a memorable championship test for the best mid-amateurs in the state.
As of the deployment date of this magazine, the 2019 Texas Four-Ball and Women’s Stroke Play Championships had not been sited, but we expect that to change soon. For a complete look at the 2020 TGA Men’s Championship schedule, click here. To view the 2020 Women's schedule, click here. To view the 2020 LJT schedule, click here.
Countdown to the World Handicap System
What’s your handicap? If you play the game, it’s typically one of the first questions you hear when you meet another golfer. Problem is, handicap systems differ in various parts of the world. Your handicap in America, for example, isn’t comparable to those in Europe or Australia. That time you traveled to Scotland and broke 80 at North Berwick? You can’t post that round here in the U.S. because North Berwick hasn’t been rated by the USGA.
That’s all about to change.
Starting next year, it will never be easier to keep up with your USGA Handicap and compare it to others around the globe. Changes are coming, and the World Handicap System (WHS), developed by the USGA and The R&A, is designed to provide all golfers with a consistent measure of their playing ability.
The new WHS will be implemented on Jan. 1, 2020, and follows an extensive review of systems administered by the six existing handicapping authorities: the USGA, Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA) and the Argentine Golf Association (AAG).
The tenets of the new system focus on three main objectives:
1. To encourage as many golfers as possible to obtain and maintain a Handicap Index;
2. To enable golfers of differing abilities, genders and countries to transport their Handicap Index to any course globally and compete on a fair basis;
3. To indicate with sufficient accuracy the score a golfer is reasonably capable of achieving on any course around the world, playing under normal conditions.
The new system will feature the following:
• Flexibility in formats of play, allowing both competitive and recreational rounds to count for handicap purposes and ensuring that a golfer’s Handicap Index is more reflective of their demonstrated ability;
• A minimal number of scores needed to obtain a Handicap Index; golfers will be able to obtain one after 54 holes from any combination of 9-hole and 18-hole rounds;
• A Handicap Index that is portable from course to course and country to country through worldwide use of the USGA Course Rating System that is used in more than 80 countries worldwide;
• An average-based calculation of a Handicap Index, taken from the best eight out of the last 20 scores and factoring in memory of demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control;
• A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day;
• Daily handicap revisions, which is a modern and responsive feature of the new system that relies on golfers to submit their scores on the same day of play;
• Net Double Bogey as the maximum hole score (for handicapping purposes only). Net Double Bogey makes it easier for golfers to understand their maximum score per hole while also helping ensure proper pace of play. Example: A player with a Course Handicap of 18 receives one stroke per hole; the player’s max score is triple bogey on any hole, which equals a Net Double Bogey;
• A maximum Handicap Index limit of 54.0, regardless of gender, to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance to increase their enjoyment of the game. The previous max handicap of 36 was seen as too high of a bar for new golfers. By raising the max handicap to 54, it allows for more new golfers to get a handicap and feel like they are good enough to have one.
Quantitative research on the WHS was conducted in 15 countries around the world, through which 76 percent of the 52,000 respondents voiced their support for the system, 22 percent were willing to consider its benefits, and only 2 percent were opposed. This was followed by a series of focus groups, in which more than 300 golf administrators and golfers from regions around the world offered extensive feedback on the features of the proposed new system.
This feedback has helped shape the WHS, which has been developed by the USGA and The R&A with support from each existing handicapping authority as well as the Japan Golf Association and Golf Canada.
“For some time, we’ve heard golfers say, ‘I’m not good enough to have a handicap,’ or ‘I don’t play enough to have a handicap.’ We want to make the right decisions now to encourage a more welcoming and social game,” said USGA CEO Mike Davis. “We’re excited to be taking another important step to provide a pathway into the sport, making golf easier to understand and more approachable and enjoyable for everyone to play.”
When adopted, the World Handicap System will be governed by the USGA and The R&A and administered by national and regional associations around the world, with safeguards included to ensure consistency as well as adaptability to differing golf cultures.
Local Level Impact
The USGA serves as the national association in the U.S. and has been working with Allied Golf Associations like the TGA to get ready for the changes ahead, including a comprehensive training and education program. This includes a significant technology investment that will, for the first time, centralize the computation of all handicaps across the U.S., providing daily revisions to a golfer’s Handicap Index while adding significant data security and integrity components.
For associations like the TGA that also subscribe to GHIN services, the USGA will unveil redesigned Golfer Products, including a new Kiosk, website ghin.com and mobile app. Some new features that will be available to golfers are hole-by-hole score posting, stat tracking and enhanced data visualization.
For more information on the WHS, visit usga.org/whs.