The USGA’s annual meeting, held last week in Newport Beach, Calif., isn’t a hotbed for news, but the association did announce that the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open will be played at Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club, while the 2012 U.S. Amateur will be held at Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver. The latter proclamation was immediately interpreted by some as a sign that the U.S. Open would go to Cherry Hills in the following decade, since in the recent past the USGA has used the Amateur as a dress rehearsal for hosting the Open.
Along those lines, the course is currently being lengthened from 7,160 yards to about 7,500, a change at least partly undertaken with thoughts of luring back the Open, which was played at Cherry Hills in 1938, ’60 and ’78. Not so fast. The USGA also let it be known it doesn’t think there’s enough space at Cherry Hills for the Open’s infrastructure — TV compounds, hospitality tents, etc. — but what no one seems to want to admit is that Cherry Hills will never see the Open again because even with renovations, the course is simply too short. These days most Open courses play at about 7,500 yards, but that’s at or close to sea level. At Denver’s mile-high elevation, Cherry Hills would have to be stretched to at least 8,000 yards to play like 7,500. At 7,500 it plays more like 6,900. That’s roughly the same length as Merion, which hosted the ’07 Amateur and will welcome the Open in ’13, but Merion is the exception. If you don’t think so, consider the worst-kept secret at the annual meeting: The USGA will most likely award the ’17 U.S. Open to Erin Hills, outside Milwaukee, a sea-level course that can be stretched to more than 8,000 yards.
• At the start of last week’s ANZ Ladies Masters Karrie Webb, 34, threw out a challenge to the young women from Down Under. Webb said she hoped that by the time she hit 40, she wouldn’t still be the best female golfer from Oz. Wish granted. Over the next four days at Royal Pines Resort in Queensland, Webb shot 70-73-69-73 to finish 30th, while 26-year-old Aussie Katherine Hull put up a 16-under 272 for a five-shot win.
• Betty Jameson, one of the 13 women who founded the LPGA in 1950, died on Feb. 7 in Boynton Beach, Fla. During her long career, Jameson won 14 amateur titles and 13 pro events, including the 1947 U.S. Women’s Open with a 295 total, the first sub-300 score ever shot by a woman. Off the course Jameson took a hand in every aspect of running the early tour and also came up with the idea of and donated the cup for the Vare Trophy, given annually to the tour’s leader in scoring average. Jameson, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1951, was 89.
• It seems the mere thought of Torrey Pines inspires Rocco Mediate to go shot for shot with Tiger Woods. The man who lost to Woods in a 19-hole playoff at last year’s U.S. Open — Tiger’s last appearance before knee surgery — pulled out of the Buick Invitational after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. Unlike Woods, who’s been out since last June, Mediate expects a brief absence leading to a return in the next few weeks. Call it all square.