Winged Foot in talks with the USGA about becoming part of a future U.S. Open rotation

MAMARONECK, N.Y. – The celebration was beginning to gain momentum as Bryson DeChambeau and Matthew Wolff played the back nine at Winged Foot.

After so many ups and downs, it’s been a memorable week at the U.S. Open.

The members were largely upbeat as they finished up their chores on the West Course and hustled back to the volunteer pavilion to watch the conclusion on a large screen by the pool.

“At the end of the day, this is still golf,” Winged Foot president Brendan Boyle said, noting the impact of the ongoing pandemic. “It’s been a tough six months for society in general, so we need to keep it all in perspective. There has been a lot of heartache throughout, but for anyone in the New York area who values golf and appreciates golf, we’re just thrilled we could actually have this tournament.

“Everything seems to have come together.”

The safety plan was executed with discipline. The weather more than cooperated. The course stood up to a new generation of stars.

And the club is already in talks with the USGA about doing this on a regular basis.

“The USGA has spoken to us, and we’re early in the negotiations, about a rotation and being sure that we are part of that rotation,” Boyle said. “The governance here is such that we have to go to the membership to get approval. There are lots of things that have to fall into place, which is one of the reasons we wanted this week to go smoothly. So, there are details to be worked out, but if the USGA is going to a rotation and let’s say there will be six or seven permanent venues, I can’t imagine that we wouldn’t be part of that as long as everything works out for both parties.”

It’s an idea long employed by the R&A for the Open Championship.

The USGA has discussed going to a rotation for several years and took another step in that direction recently when it formalized a deal to relocate part of its operation to Pinehurst, N.C. and play the U.S. Open there in 2024, 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047.

Winged Foot has played host six times now.

The U.S. Open is scheduled to be played at Torrey Pines Golf Course next June, then moves to The Country Club (2022), Los Angeles Country Club (2023), Pinehurst No. 2 (2024), Oakmont Country Club (2025), Shinnecock Hills (2026) and Pebble Beach (2027).

Other courses believed to be in consideration to join Pinehurst in a rotation include Shinnecock Hills, Oakmont, Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines.

An obvious return date to Winged Foot would be nine years down the road to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Bobby Jones’ U.S. Open win here in 1929.

“We can’t predict the future, but I will say this, with all that we have come through this year, it’s really highlighted the great partnership we have with this club,” USGA director of championships John Bodenhamer said on the eve of the championship. “I don’t think (Winged Foot) has left any stone unturned, from keeping their golf course in premier condition through an incredibly hot summer and a busy membership, to really adapting to a no-fans U.S. Open, all the testing protocols, and just, really, the club’s spirits. The leadership’s spirits have been tremendous.

“This is not what they signed up for. And it’s just been a real testament to the perseverance on Winged Foot’s part, and we could not be more grateful. And I assure you that will be recognized.”

Once the negotiations with the USGA are complete, the plan will be presented to the membership for a vote. No timetable was shared.

Like a majority of the members here, Boyle volunteered all week.

“I kept on getting thanked by members,” he said. “I worked all four days as a walking scorer and so I got to see everyone out there and the quote I heard most was, ‘I feel like I’m watching the World Series from the dugout.’”

The club was eager to open the gates to the public and share the historic venue for a week, but the pandemic made that impossible.

Everyone on site had to be tested in advance. There were daily health and security screenings for the 2,000 or so essential workers allowed on site.

“The attention to detail by the USGA and more importantly the staff here at Winged Foot has been tremendous,” Boyle said. “The course itself, between the USGA and Steve Rabideau and his group and the volunteers who came in to help, they just did a terrific, terrific job. And the amenities for the members who volunteered and some of the outsiders who helped, Colin Burns and his staff just did a bang-up job. We’re really thrilled with the way it’s turned out.”

A wide majority of the players agreed.

“It’s an unbelievable golf course,” Justin Thomas said. “It’s for sure my favorite U.S. Open venue I’ve played. … It’s fair. If you play well, you can score and make birdies. For the most part a lot of the pins are bowl pins, but if you don’t (play well), it’s brutal. I just think it’s all right in front of you. It was not overly firm, it was not overly fast. The USGA did a great job setting it up for us this week. Very easily they could have had 15-over par win this week if they wanted, and it was very fair and right in front of us.”

The breakdown will begin on Monday.

“Because we didn’t have the 35,000 or 40,000 spectators, we’ll get everything back quickly,” Boyle said. “The West Course, we should have members playing on Saturday. The East Course, it will take a little longer because some of the infrastructure has to come down, but I anticipate we’ll get most of the course back in two or three weeks.”

Mike Dougherty covers golf for The Journal News/ He can be reached at or on Twitter @hoopsmbd and @lohudgolf.

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