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Soldier Hollow to Host 2012 USGA Public Links

Soldier Hollow Golf Course has been selected by the United States Golf Association as the site of the 2012 USGA Public Links Championship it was announced today at a press conference attended by the Governor of Utah, Gary Herbert, and by almost all of Utah’s golf leaders and every major news organization in the state.

The significance of the announcement is that it will be the first USGA Championship ever to be held in Utah, and finally removes Utah from the dubious distinction of being one of three states to have never hosted a USGA event.

The announcement is a ‘dream come true’ for former UGA Executive Director Mark Passey, who for the past 20 years has been one of the Directors of Regional Affairs for the United States Golf Association and was the most significant prime mover in paving the  way for Utah to host this event.  Soldier Hollow is a state-owned golf course and is part of Wasatch Mountain State Park.

Mary Tullis, Director of Natural Resources in the state, conducted the press conference.

The only downer of the celebratory occasion was that Passey couldn’t be there to make the announcement and deferred that responsibility to Michael Bailey, a local USGA volunteer. Bailey’s announcement speech touched on every aspect of the selection process and thanked all the key people involved in the negotiations. (His speech is posted separately.)

Governor Herbert, an avid golfer, thanked the USGA for ‘the honor of hosting a natural championship on one of our Olympic sites,’ and pledged full support of the tournament. He also commended the staff of the Parks and Recreation Department and state employees at Soldier Hollow for their good work that has resulted in this great announcement.

Gene Bates, the golf course architect of Soldier Hollow, explained the planning process and thanked the planning committee for its foresight, particularly crediting Mark Passey for urging that the course be built with the goal of qualifying for a national championship and the support of the committee for that goal.

Bates pointed out that the course will be re-routed for the tournament and will include 17 holes from the Gold Course and one hole from the Silver Course, and that the nines will be reversed.

The USGA Public Links Championship is the tournament that Utahn Clay Ogden won in 2005 and earned him a spot in the Masters. Clay Ogden and USGA Junior Amateur Scott Hailes were in attendance at the announcement ceremony.

The USGA Public Links Championship is open to all  public links players who do not have playing  privileges at a country club.