The U.S. Open at Chambers Bay was the first major I attended in a working capacity. I remember showing up and being in complete awe of the operation, the expansive course, the beautiful panorama, and the superstar players and media members (to me) I was shuffling among. Everything about the week was imposing but also thrilling. It was also the first major for a handful of other media members you know well and probably follow on Twitter and elsewhere. Texting with one on Thursday, he remarked on this coincidence, “It was the beginning of a new era.”
For the USGA, it was the end of one. Experimentation with U.S. Open courses would soon die in favor of the safety of irreproachable blue bloods. It was not just wide-eyed media members feeling a sense of exhilaration at Chambers Bay. Everybody was humming about the entire concept, from the excitement about a new course, to the Open’s return to a neglected market of the country, to a new scene with a treeless hillside looking over Puget Sound, to even the event’s move to a new broadcast network. The U.S. Open should not have to be like that every year, but occasionally, there should be an experiment with the rush of some newness. The 2015 championship obviously did not progress without controversy or failure, but even those added to the excitement and adventure as a whole. The controversies were a part of the stew that fed a riveting week from start to finish. But that’s the only ingredient, the bitter one, that the USGA seems to remember.
A winning score of 16-under came two years later at another new venue, Erin Hills, in another new market. On the heels of Chambers, the USGA was criticized by traditionalists and casual observers alike. Those two experiments within three years chastened the USGA and made it reactive, pledging to cool it on the Lewis & Clark routine. It’s a tough line to walk, a damned-if-you-do and, now from me in this space, damned-if-you-dont scenario. But what has happened since could be characterized as an overreaction.
With the announcement of Riviera as the 2031 U.S. Open course, the sites for our national championship, aside from two open dates 14-plus years on, have now been booked until 2040. That’s right, almost all of the next 17 years are claimed. Filling the schedule until 2040 are some of the best championship courses the country has to offer. But it’s a small cohort that covers only a few plots of the country. Individually, each venue is fantastic and there will be excitement when the week starts, even at the recurring familiar sites of Pinehurst or Pebble. But looked at as a whole, knowing the next 17 years are mapped out and closed off is daunting and dispiriting.
Anyways, here’s the list, a collection of fabulous golf courses that somehow, collectively viewed as your next 19 years, create a bit of ennui.
- 2024 – Pinehurst No. 2
- 2025 – Oakmont Country Club
- 2026 – Shinnecock Hills Golf Club
- 2027 – Pebble Beach Golf Links
- 2028 – Winged Foot Golf Club
- 2029 – Pinehurst No. 2
- 2030 – Merion Golf Club
- 2031 – Riviera Country Club
- 2032 – Pebble Beach Golf Links
- 2033 – Oakmont Country Club
- 2034 – Oakland Hills Country Club
- 2035 – Pinehurst No. 2
- 2036 – Open
- 2037 – Pebble Beach Golf Links
- 2038 – Open
- 2039 – The Los Angeles Country Club
- 2040 – Open
- 2041 – Pinehurst No. 2
- 2042 – Oakmont Country Club
This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.