U.S. Open to Fete 2017 Champions

The fifth Open at Shinnecock in three centuries
Mike Davis, the U.S.G.A.’s chief executive officer, said at a press conference in Manhattan last week that the coming U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills — the fifth to be played at the club, beginning in 1896 — would again be a great event. Jon M. Diat

It’s hard to believe, but the 118th U.S. Open golf championship, to be held at the iconic Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, is less than two months away.

Despite the cold weather this spring, the United States Golf Association is ready to handle the event, which takes place from June 11 through 17. A number of hospitality and concession tents are already up on the historic grounds along Montauk Highway.

“We are incredibly pleased to return once again to Shinnecock,” Mike Davis, the U.S.G.A.’s chief executive officer, said at a press conference in Manhattan on April 11. “Shinnecock is one of the world’s finest courses and has such a rich tradition. It will again be a great event.”

The U.S.G.A. announced that day the introduction of a Celebration of Champions at Shinnecock — a four-hole public exhibition honoring the winners of all 2017 U.S.G.A. championships and celebrating their distinguished achievements in the sport.

The exhibition, to be played on June 12, two days before the start of the first round, is to honor all the U.S.G.A. winners of the year past, be they professionals, amateurs, men, women, juniors, or seniors. 

“Our championships are open to all players who have the dream and desire to compete at the highest level,” said Davis. “We believe hosting the inaugural Celebration of Champions at the 118th U.S. Open is a fitting way to celebrate each champion’s incredible achievement and acknowledge their place in golf history.” 

Eight-time U.S.G.A. champion Jack Nicklaus, as the official starter, will help launch the inaugural festivities in what will become an annual tradition.

“I’ve always loved U.S.G.A. championships,” Nicklaus, who has won them in five different decades, said in a statement. “Since I was a junior they have always been the ultimate examinations of a golfer. I always felt that the U.S.G.A. did the best job of preparing a golf course that will completely test you and every part of your game. And for me personally, to be able to compete for a championship of the country I live in made a victory that much more meaningful.”

The 2018 championship will be the fifth U.S. Open the club has held. It’s the only venue to play host to the championship in three centuries. The second U.S. Open was played at Shinnecock in 1896. James Foulis won it by three strokes that year over Horace Rawlins.

In 1986, Raymond Floyd, who was later to buy a house in Southampton and become a member of Shinnecock Hills, shot a final-round 66 to win by two strokes over Chip Beck and Lanny Wadkins. In 1995, Corey Pavin clinched a two-stroke victory over Greg Norman with a memorable 4-wood approach to the final green. And in 2004, Retief Goosen outlasted Phil Mickelson by two strokes to claim his second U.S. Open title.

Shinnecock Hills opened in 1891, and the present course, opened in 1931, was designed by William Flynn. The 2018 championship will mark the 19th time the U.S. Open will have been played in the State of New York and the 10th time on Long Island. As of the 2011 season, New York had played host to 66 U.S.G.A. championships, ranking it third among all states.

Along with the Country Club in Brookline, Mass., the Newport Country Club in Rhode Island, the Chicago Golf Club, and Saint Andrew’s Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., Shinnecock Hills was one of the founding clubs of the United States Golf Association in 1894. Shinnecock Hills had America’s first golf clubhouse (complete with locker room, showers, and grill room), which was designed by the noted architect Stanford White. It was also the first 18-hole golf course on the East Coast.

“I was born and raised on Long Island, and Shinnecock is very special to me,” said Boomer Esiason, the radio host, N.F.L. analyst, and former quarterback, who was among a number of former professional athletes attending the press conference. “I’ve probably played Shinnecock 20 times and it’s my favorite course. It’s a great challenge to play and it’s a perfect setting.”

Tickets for the U.S. Open can be purchased online at usopen.com.

The Shinnecock Hills clubhouse, the first such to be built, was designed by the noted architect Stanford White. Jon M. Diat