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History of the U.S. Open Championship

June 13, 2013

A Look Back on the U.S. Open Championships

It’s that time of year U.S. golf fans; the United States Open Championship has begun. The second of the four major championships in golf, the U.S. Open is the annual golf championship in the United States. The first U.S. Open was played on October 4 1895, at the Newport Golf and Country Club conducted by the United States Golf Association (USGA).  The nine-hole course located in Newport, Rhode Island held the 36-hole championship and was played in one day. To put that into perspective, that is four times around the Newport Golf Course.  Alongside the first U.S. Amateur Championships, the U.S. Open was originally scheduled for September. The championships were postponed to October due to the popularity of America’s Cup yacht races and today are played in June.


1913 U.S. Open with Harry Vardon (left), Francis Ouimet (center), Ted Ray (right).

The original championship consisted of ten professional golfers and one amateur. The winner was 21-year-old Horace Rawlins. An English professional was the assistant at the host course and the day’s surprise winner. He scored 91-82-173 with the gutta-percha ball, which is a golf ball that has a solid core filled with the evaporated milky juice or latex that comes from the gutta-percha tree. The ball revolutionized the game because it was less expensive to make than the feathery cube ball, resistant to water, and improved the run of the ball. For winning first place, Rawlins received 150 dollars, a gold medal, and custody of the Open Championship Cup for his club for the year.

Even though the U.S. Open had been around for nearly two decades the championship didn’t really take off until 1913. That year a 20-year-old American amateur, Francis Ouimet, won the title in a playoff defeating the English professionals Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. The popularity of the championships increased from there causing the USGA to sell the first spectator tickets in 1922. They also were forced to introduce a sectional qualifying in 1924 due to the large number of entries. The last amateur to win the U.S. Open was in 1933. John Goodman was the fifth and final amateur to win. Professionals now dominate the championship with memorable wins by Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus. There are four golfers in history that have won the U.S. Open four times, Willie Anderson, Bob Jones, Ben Hogan, and most recently Jack Nicklaus, winning his last in 1980.

The U.S. Open is always scheduled for mid-June so that the final round is played on the third Sunday of the month, which is Father’s Day in the U.S. From the beginning, the U.S. Open has brought together golfers from around the world to test their skills against their talented peers.

Looking for more information about the U.S. Open and the USGA? Visit, for updates on this year’s championship. Good luck to all the golfers!

The Minnesota Section PGA consists of PGA Professionals who are experts in the game and business of golf. Our mission is to promote the enjoyment and involvement of the game of golf and to contribute to its growth by providing services to golf professionals, the golf industry, people who play golf or would like to start playing golf. PGA Section Offices oversee the 41 geographic regions throughout the United States and provide the grass-roots network for the nation’s 25 million amateur golfers and with the PGA’s 27,000 members.

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