Where to Play Your USGA Qualifier

A tour of this year’s most intriguing USGA qualifying sites


In yet another sign that normalcy is slowly returning to golf, qualifying tournaments for USGA championships are back. Last year, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the USGA canceled not only the qualifying process for its professional and amateur events but also the majority of the championships themselves. Now, to the relief of daydreaming golfers everywhere, the USGA has released its lists of 2021 qualifying sites.

Reading through these lists is an underrated pleasure; there are always plenty of gems in them. Here are a few venues for the men’s and women’s U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, and U.S. Mid-Amateur qualifiers that caught our eye:

U.S. Open

Full list of U.S. Open local qualifying sites

Eastward Ho! Club – Chatham, Massachusetts

Perhaps the most scenic of the qualifying sites this year, Eastward Ho! winds and rolls around the ocean’s edge. Keith Foster removed thousands of trees during his restoration of Herbert Fowler’s design, putting the scenery on full display. Don’t get distracted by the views, though. Eastward Ho! is one of the shorter U.S. Open local qualifying venues, but the rolling hills and elevation changes will throw even good players off-kilter.

Gamble Sands – Brewster, Washington

Gamble Sands is becoming a mainstay on the U.S. Open qualifying-site list. David McLay Kidd’s 2014 layout in remote Brewster marked Kidd’s mid-career transition to a less punishing design philosophy. Wide fairways and friendly contouring mean that players may have to go very low to move on to sectional qualifying.

North Shore Country Club – Glen Head, New York

This 1916 Seth Raynor design on Long Island doesn’t get as much attention as other properties just a few miles away. Rescued in 2009 from financial ruin (many members were apparently fleeced by Bernie Madoff), North Shore hired Tom Doak to do a full renovation. Measuring only 6,500 yards from the back tees, the course is now packed with strategy, creativity, and intrigue.

Other notables (standout architecture and/or locations):

  • CommonGround GC – Aurora, Colorado – Tom Doak
  • The King Kamehameha GC – Wailuku, Hawaii – Ted Robinson, Sr.
  • Long Cove Club – Hilton Head, South Carolina – Pete Dye
  • Palmer GC – Palmer, Alaska – William Overdorf
  • The Preserve GC – Carmel, California – Tom Fazio
  • Whippoorwill Club – Armonk, New York – Donald Ross, Charles Banks

U.S. Women’s Open

Full list of U.S. Women’s Open qualifying sites

Dedham Country and Polo Club – Dedham, Massachusetts

The only Raynor-designed course in Massachusetts was restored by Brian Silva in 2018. Silva completely rebuilt the greens and bunkers, and modernized the course with new Sub Air and irrigation systems. Dedham will play longer than the scorecard yardage of 6,200 and should attract a crowd of players from the Boston area looking to move on to the Olympic Club in June.

Pine Needles – Southern Pines, North Carolina

Kyle Franz’s 2017 restoration of Donald Ross’s Pine Needles has made this championship test even better. Shortly after Franz’s work was complete, the USGA announced Pine Needles would host the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open for a record fourth time. Those players wanting to get an early look at the course could do so at May 4 qualifying.

Other notables:

  • Dream Park Country Club – Incheon, South Korea
  • Somerset CC – Mendota Heights, Minnesota – Seth Raynor, Stanley Thompson, Robert Moote
  • Oahu CC – Oahu, Hawaii – William F. Bell
  • Yokohama Country Club – Yokohama, Japan – Takeo Aiyama

U.S. Amateur

Full list of U.S. Amateur qualifying sites

The Camargo Club – Cincinnati, Ohio

One of the unique aspects of USGA qualifying is the opportunity to play otherwise tough-to-access private courses. Even more exciting is the chance to see a pristine Golden Age design like the Camargo Club. Mostly unchanged since Seth Raynor built it in 1926, Camargo is on most golf architecture fans’ bucket lists. A few of them will get to check it off on July 13.

Moraine Country Club – Dayton, Ohio

Designed by Alex “Nipper” Campbell in 1930, Moraine Country Club had been rendered unrecognizable by the time Keith Foster came onboard as consulting architect in the mid-2010s. Foster’s work is a testament to the value of tree removal; the course is now full of beautiful, open vistas. Today’s Moraine provides a stern examination of ability that manages to be playable for all.

Moraine Country Club in Dayton, Ohio. Photo credit: Andy Johnson

Soule Park Golf Course – Ojai, California

Both men and women seeking a berth in the Amateur championships will get a crack at Soule Park this summer. The women will compete there on July 6, the men on July 15. Any other player, however, can enjoy this beautiful municipal course, redesigned by Gil Hanse in 2005, for a peak rate of $40.

Soule Park Golf Course in Ojai, California. Photo credit: Cameron Hurdus

Other notables:

  • Campestre de la Ciudad de Mexico – Mexico City, Mexico – Marcelino Moreno
  • The Country Club – Pepper Pike, Ohio – William Flynn
  • Dallas National GC – Dallas, Texas – Tom Fazio
  • Sunnehanna CC – Johnstown, Pennsylvania – A.W. Tillinghast
  • Victoria Golf Club – Victoria, British Columbia – A.V. Macan, Jeff Mingay
  • Wampanoag CC – West Hartford, Connecticut – Donald Ross

U.S. Women’s Amateur

Full list of U.S. Women’s Amateur qualifying sites

Boston Golf Club – Hingham, Massachusetts

Just outside of Boston, this club takes inspiration from the British model, prioritizing golf above all else. Walking is encouraged, and Gil Hanse’s rugged design recalls the early-20th-century architecture of the English heathlands.

Chambers Bay – University Place, Washington

A couple of months after hosting the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, Chambers Bay will help determine the field for the U.S. Women’s Amateur. This RTJ II-designed mega muni, host of the chaotic 2015 U.S. Open, always seems to generate drama, and it’s one of the few courses near an urban area in the Pacific Northwest capable of hosting a big-time tournament. Let’s hope the USGA keeps coming back for more.

Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington. Photo credit: Garrett Morrison

Streamsong Black – Streamsong, Florida

Two years ago, Streamsong Black hosted sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and Callum Tarren shot a course-record 64 en route to earning a start at Pebble Beach. Aspiring U.S. Women’s Amateur contestants probably won’t need to go that low on this expansive, intricate Gil Hanse design to qualify. Streamsong Black should, however, attract a competitive field, and whoever emerges will be a player to watch at Westchester in August.

Streamsong Black in Streamsong, Florida. Photo credit: Andy Johnson

Other notables:

  • Knickerbocker CC – Tenafly, New Jersey – Donald Ross, Herbert Strong, Ron Forse
  • Sunningdale CC – Scarsdale, New York – Seth Raynor, Mike DeVries
  • Seymour Golf and Country Club – North Vancouver, British Columbia – Ted Locke

U.S. Mid-Amateur

Full list of U.S. Mid-Amateur qualifying sites

Cuscowilla on Lake Oconee – Eatonton, Georgia

Normally open to non-members only during Masters week, Cuscowilla, a Coore & Crenshaw design from 1997, will welcome Mid-Am hopefuls on August 23. The undulating fairways, large greens, and shaggy-edged bunkers are not only aesthetically appealing but also visually deceptive. Those who negotiate these challenges best will have a shot at punching their tickets to Sankaty and Miacomet in September.

Wannamoisett Country Club – Rumford, Rhode Island

At 6,700 yards, the par-69 Wannamoisett demands accuracy off the tee and precision around the greens. An example of Donald Ross’s routing prowess, the course gets everything it can out of the just-over-100-acre property. Wannamoisett is a true throwback and a charming walk for players of all skill levels.

Other notables:

  • Minnehaha CC – Sioux Falls, South Dakota – Langford & Moreau
  • Settlers Bay Golf Course – Wasilla, Alaska – Ted Locke
  • Talking Stick – Scottsdale, Arizona – Coore & Crenshaw

U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur

Full list of U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur qualifying sites

Meadow Club – Fairfax, California

Meadow Club holds the distinction of being the first U.S. course designed by Alister MacKenzie. With the help of the brilliant Robert Hunter, MacKenzie created an idyllic place to play beneath Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County. Oversimplified maintenance and excessive tree planting hurt the course over the years, but since the early 2000s, Mike DeVries—along with an increasingly knowledgeable and ambitious greenkeeping team—has been removing trees, expanding greens, and restoring bunker shapes.

Meadow Club in Fairfax, California. Photo credit: Andy Johnson

Philadelphia Country Club – Gladwyne, Pennsylvania

The 1927 William Flynn design has a rich history. It was the seventh club to join the USGA, and it hosted the 1939 U.S. Open, won by Byron Nelson after Sam Snead made an 8 on the 72nd hole. In the ensuing playoff with Craig Wood and Denny Shute, Nelson holed out for eagle with a 1-iron on the par-4 4th (now the 17th). The course has changed over time, but it’s still a classic course with plenty of style and charm.

Portage Country Club – Akron, Ohio

Speaking of Denny Shute, he was the club professional at Portage CC for almost 30 years. His stellar career included a British Open win in 1933 (in a playoff over none other than Craig Wood), two match-play PGA Championships in 1936 and 1937, and multiple Ryder Cup appearances. Over the years, Shute and the rest of Portage’s membership maintained the course’s roots, which date back to 1918 and William Langford’s original design. In spite of various updates, including one from A.W. Tillinghast in 1936, the course retains a vintage feel.

Other notables:

  • Club de Golf Mexico – Mexico City, Mexico – Percy Clifford, Laurence Hughes
  • Chartiers Country Club – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Willie Park, Jr.

Did we miss any? Let us know on Twitter @the_fried_egg.