Only eight golf courses have hosted the U.S. Amateur more than twice. When the Amateur returns to Pebble Beach Golf Links in 2018, it will be the fifth time it has been played here. Why so often?
“For the same reason we keep trying to bring the U.S. Open there every 8 to 10 years,” says United States Golf Association’s Craig Smith (the USGA oversees the U.S. Amateur). “There’s just no golf course in the country like Pebble Beach.”
Here is a look at the U.S. Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links:
Fresh off winning the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, Bobby Jones was attempting to capture a record third straight U.S. Amateur when he came to Pebble Beach in 1929. After shooting 70-75 to tie for medalist honors, Jones was upset in the first round of match play, 1-up, by Johnny Goodman, a caddie from Omaha who shot just 77-80 to qualify. (Jones also shot the better score that day, 75 to Goodman’s 76.)
While the upset was historic, Goodman was no slouch. He remains the last amateur to win the U.S. Open, capturing the title in 1933. Goodman would also win the U.S. Amateur in 1937, but it was Harrison Johnson who was crowned champion at Pebble Beach in 1929. It would take almost 70 years for a golfer to win three straight U.S. Amateurs — and his name was Tiger Woods.
The USGA was originally scheduled to return to Pebble Beach in 1942, but the championship was postponed from 1942-1945 during World War II. When the tournament returned to Pebble Beach, there was no medal play — just a brawny 210-player match play bracket.
A 32-year-old named Skee Riegel ultimately emerged victorious, even though he hadn’t picked up golf until the age of 23.
The tournament inspired then-USGA president Charles W. Littlefield to suggest, “Let’s hold ’em all here.”
“I fell in love with Pebble Beach the moment I set foot there to prepare for the 1961 U.S. Amateur,” recalls Jack Nicklaus.
Those feelings led to inspired play, as Nicklaus steamrolled the field, winning his semifinals match 9-and-8, and the finals 8-and-6. Nicklaus was 20-under through 136 holes in the seven matches he played, sinking 34 birdies and an eagle against just 16 bogeys. It was the first of five wins Nicklaus would claim at Pebble Beach (1967, 1972, 1973 Bing Crosby Pro-Ams; 1972 U.S. Open).
The 99th U.S. Amateur was demanding, with Spyglass Hill sharing co-host duties during medal play, and Pebble Beach being prepared for the 2000 U.S. Open. No player in the field broke 70 at Spyglass Hill, and the medalist score of 143 was the second highest in tournament history.
After an opening-round 80 at Pebble Beach, David Gossett was in jeopardy of missing the cut. But Gossett showed some serious championship mettle, firing an impressive 1-under 71 at Spyglass Hill to make the match-play cut by one. With his worst play behind him, Gossett — a No. 1 ranked junior and collegiate player — never trailed after the seventh hole in any of his six matches, and ran away with a 9-and-8 victory in the finals — the biggest blowout since 1980.
The field included current PGA TOUR players Charley Hoffman, Charles Howell III, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Bryce Molder, Rob Oppenheim, Adam Scott, Nicholas Thompson, Camilo Villegas and Johnson Wagner.