Check out what has been happening in Utah Golf.

Mike Bailey’s Publinks Announcement Speech


SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – As a volunteer member of the USGA Regional Affairs Committee and a native Utahn who has lived in Utah almost all of my life, I am delighted to be here on this historic day. I bring the best wishes and congratulations of USGA President Jim Hyler and United States Amateur Public Links Championship Director Bill McCarthy.

Before I begin my remarks, I would like to publicly extend the USGA’s appreciation to Governor Gary Herbert for honoring all of us, and the historic significance of this announcement, with his participation today.  I would also like to introduce two of our USGA volunteer committee members- Keith Hansen of the Regional Affairs Committee and Lee Samsel of the Amateur Public Links Committee.

In the storied one hundred and sixteen year history of the United States Golf Association, a national championship has never been conducted in the State of Utah.  On behalf of the fourteen hundred volunteer committee members of the USGA, I am thrilled to announce that in 2012, that will change.

I am here to formally announce that from July 9th through the 14th, 2012, the United States Golf Association will conduct the United States Amateur Public Links Championship on the Gold Course at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah.

The Amateur Public Links is no ordinary national championship and Soldier Hollow is no ordinary championship site.  As a golf championship, the Amateur Public Links is unique.  It is open only to Amateur golfers who play their golf on public golf courses and who do not have playing privileges at any private golf course or country club.  This requirement makes this event particularly suited for Utah, which is nationally known for its remarkable and affordable public golf.

The championship, which is the most prestigious tournament of public golf in the world, was first conducted in 1922 and is the fourth oldest of the thirteen national championships conducted by the USGA. The list of its past champions is impressive— chronologically—Billy Mayfair, Tim Clark, Trevor Immelman, D.J. Trahan, Ryan Moore, and, in 2005, Utah’s own Clay Ogden from West Point, Utah.  Clay and 1995 USGA Junior Amateur Champion Scott Hailes of West Bountiful, Utah, are with us today.

The list of Public Links Champions also includes the first African-American USGA champion, Bill Wright, who won the Championship in 1959.  Other notable past  participants include U.S. Open champions Ed Furgol,  Tommy Bolt, and Ken Venturi;  British Open champion,  Tony Lema; PGA champions Dave Marr and Bobby Nichols;  and Masters winner George Archer.

Since 1989, through the graciousness of the members of the Augusta National Golf Club, the winner of the Amateur Public Links has, historically, been invited to play in the Masters Tournament.  In 2008, that connection came full circle when Trevor Immelman of South Africa, who won the Public Links in 1998, won the Masters.

The list of sites for the Amateur Public Links Championship is equally impressive.  It includes  Murphy Creek and Wellshire Golf Courses in Colorado;   Bethpage Black in New York;  Torrey Pines and Harding  Park in California; this year’s site, Bryan Park in  North Carolina; and, next year, Bandon Dunes in  Oregon.  Continuing that tradition, in 2012, Soldier Hollow will be spectacular.

Bringing this championship to Utah did not happen overnight.  Mark Passey, a regional affairs director for the USGA, and longtime resident of Utah, long dreamt of a national championship coming to Utah.   This dream progressed in 2004 when, after the Olympics, the State of Utah made great use of the 2002 Olympic cross country and biathlon sites.  The state had the foresight to use that ground to build the scenic 36-hole Soldier Hollow golf facility.  The courses were built big enough, long enough and good enough to host a national championship and to also to be relevant for the next century of Utah golfers.

Many people (including Mark, and many who are in this room today) worked diligently over the years to find the right fit in order to bring a USGA national championship to the state of Utah.    Together the Public Links Championship and Soldier Hollow are that perfect fit.  With this announcement, the State of Utah’s vision of hosting a National Championship at Soldier Hollow has become reality.

Another piece fell into place when Bill McCarthy, the Public Links Championship Director, visited Soldier Hollow for a site visit just under a year ago and was simply overwhelmed.  He was impressed with the golf course, the facilities, the people and the area.  He also enjoyed our beautiful state and all that it has to offer – so much – that he returned to the Heber Valley this past summer for a vacation with his three high school sons.

In his site visit, Bill McCarthy learned what we Utahns have always known — that The Gold Course at  Solider Hollow will present a terrific challenge to  an elite amateur field and its spectacular scenery  will rival that of any other championship site. There is no doubt that the players, families, and officials will fall in love with Soldier Hollow and with Utah.

The enthusiasm that the USGA has witnessed from Soldier Hollow, its staff, the Division of Utah State Parks and Recreation and the golfing public regarding this opportunity has been amazing.  Additionally, the demonstration of support for this championship from the Division of Utah State Parks & Recreation, the Utah Sports Commission (including its efforts regarding golf), the Utah Golf Association, and the Friends of Utah State Parks and Recreation, has been and will continue to be unequalled.

In 2002, Soldier Hollow welcomed the world as an Olympic venue.  Ten years later it will again welcome elite athletes, this time the best amateur golfers in the world.  Soldier Hollow will continue the USGA’s rich tradition of championship golf – of public golf – on the national stage.

The USGA is both excited and incredibly proud to be bringing a National Championship to a state as deserving as Utah, an area as deserving as the Heber Valley and to a site as deserving as Soldier Hollow.

Thank you.