BANDON — National championship golf is returning to Bandon Dunes a year sooner than expected.
The United States Golf Association announced Tuesday that the resort will host the 2019 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. The event had been scheduled for Chambers Bay in Washington, but was moved because that course is going through a project to change the type of grass on its greens.
The Four-Ball Championship will be the sixth USGA event contested at Bandon Dunes, which also will host the 2020 U.S. Amateur.
“We’re super pumped,” said Michael Chupka, the resort’s director of communications, adding discussion about hosting the event came up recently. “It hasn’t been in the works for very long at all.”
It will provide a challenge, with Bandon Dunes now hosting major events in consecutive years, but Chupka said he is confident in the resort’s staff.
“Even with it being the winter of 2017, hosting a championship in May of 2019 still leaves us ample time to plan for everything,” Chupka said. “We’re beyond excited. It’s going to be a crazy couple of years gearing up for this. It’s so much fun to be a part of them.”
Bandon Dunes previously hosted the Curtis Cup in 2005, the U.S. Mid-Amateur in 2006, the 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links (held concurrently), and the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship in 2015.
USGA officials praised the resort and owner Mike Keiser while announcing the tournament Tuesday.
“The USGA is extremely grateful to owner Mike Keiser and Bandon Dunes, a trusted supporter of amateur golf, for agreeing to host the 2019 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball while this work occurs at Chambers Bay,” said John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships and governance. “We also acknowledge the foresight and initiative of everyone at Chambers Bay in undertaking this work.”
Chambers Bay is converting its putting surfaces from fescue to poa annua grass, which should provide long-range benefits to that course, Bodenhamer said. It will now host the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championships in 2021.
Both Bandon Dunes and Chambers Bay are managed by Kemper Sports. Matt Allen, the general manager, worked at Bandon Dunes before moving to the Washington course when it was built. Director of Agronomy Eric Johnson is a North Bend graduate and a former superintendent of the Old Macdonald course at Bandon Dunes.
The 2019 Amateur Four-Ball Championship will be held from May 25-29, a Saturday through Wednesday. It will start with 128 two-player teams, or sides in four-ball lingo, selected at qualifiers held throughout the country.
Chupka said he could envision a number of the resort’s caddies trying to qualify. Caddies Kyle Crawford and Tim Tucker played in the inaugural tournament in 2015.
“Knowing the quality of golfers and players that we have down here, I’m sure that we’re going to see at least one, if not two, teams, and they would have a real fighting chance of being the home team,” Chupka said.
In four-ball, both players on a team play each hole and they count the better score.
“It’s a format that our guests love and play a lot here,” Chupka said.
The first two days of the tournament will be qualifying, with the top 64 teams advancing to the match play portion of the event.
Two of the resort’s four courses will be used for the qualifying portion of the tournament, and will be selected at a later date.
“USGA has been out to discuss possible logistics,” Chupka said. “Hopefully, we will get a better feel for it later this year.”
As with the previous events, the resort will rely on volunteers from the community to help with the event.
“That’s something the USGA has commented on numerous times, just how welcoming the community has been,” Chupka said. “We certainly look forward to working with the community, for not only the 2020 U.S. Am but the 2019 Four Ball as well.”
Chambers Bay previously hosted the 2010 U.S. Amateur and the 2015 U.S. Open.
“Both of these sites are excellent championship venues and are unwavering in their support of amateur golf,” Bodenhamer said. “They offer the USGA an opportunity to continue to conduct exemplary four-ball championships while providing an ultimate test for the players.
“In addition, both of these Pacific Northwest communities have always offered a warm welcome to the USGA, its championships and its competitors.”