While the U. S. Open, conducted during the second week of June this year at historic Merion Golf Club outside of Philadelphia, is the flagship of the United States Golf Association’s championships, it is just one of fifteen championship tournaments which the USGA runs each year. From the Senior Open and Senior Women’s Amateur to the Junior Amateur and Girls’ Junior, the USGA puts on championship events for all ages, cycling through a roster of host golf courses which represent the best public and private courses in the United States. Next month, over the week of July 22 to 27, Martis Camp, a private golf course development just outside of Truckee, at the north end of the Tahoe Basin, will host the USGA’s Junior Amateur Championship.
Northern California golf courses have hosted a number of the USGA’s tournaments over the years. In 2012 the Bay Area played host to the U.S. Open, which was held at San Francisco’s Olympic Club (for the fifth time since 1955), and neighboring Lake Merced Golf Club hosted the Girls’ Junior Championship, as well as being the venue for a sectional qualifying tournament for the U.S. Open. Later this year, in late September, CordeValle Resort in San Martin will host the Senior Womens’ Amateur.
The Junior Amateur Championship at Martis Camp will bring together 156 of the best junior boys from across the United States and around the world to compete over two rounds of 18-hole stroke play and six levels of match play elimination to determine a champion. The USGA accepted 2,860 entries for this year’s championship; sectional qualifying tournaments, which started June 10th and will go through July 2nd at 61 sites across the United States, will winnow the field down to the 156 players who will come to Truckee next month.
Open since 2008, the golf course at Martis Camp is a striking Tom Fazio design which has already demonstrated its championship mettle, having played host to the Pacific Amateur Championship in 2011. The course will play at a nominal length of 7,675 yards for this championship – the longest course in U.S. Junior Amateur history. Laid out over the rugged terrain of the Martis Valley and criss-crossed by Martis Creek, the course will provide a stern test for the top-ranked juniors who come to contest the championship. Challenging greens complexes, with white sand bunkers whose beauty belies their difficulty, are reached only after negotiating fairways with cant and contour that demand precise tee shots. Elevation changes abound, following the natural contours of the terrain, with several tee shots from elevated greens, and a number of greens that are approached from a lower-lying fairway.
Speaking of elevation, since Martis Camp lies at 5,866 feet above sea level the thinner air is another factor that the players will have to contend with. Ball flight will be affected in a number of ways – the reduced drag makes for more distance, but there is also a noticeable reduction in the effect of ball spin. Back spin helps to keep the ball in the air, increasing carry distance, but this affect will be reduced at altitude. On the plus side, slice- or hook-inducing side spin will affect the ball’s flight less. In general, players will see straighter, somewhat lower ball flight which will carry further and roll more than they might be used to at lower altitudes.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a USGA championship without the “toughening up” of the course for which that organization is famous – a process which is not reserved for just the United States Open. Greg Sanfillipo, the USGA’s director for the 2013 Junior Amateur Championship, told a gathering of golf journalists at the recent Junior Amateur media day that the fairways will have a graduated rough setup consisting of a 3-foot-wide band of 2-1/2-inch rough, with 3-1/2-inch rough outside of that. The well-contoured greens on the Tom Fazio-designed course allow ample opportunity for challenging flag locations, and with a target of 12 to 12-1/2 feet for green speed, thorough study during practice rounds, and precise approaches, will be required to ensure success.
Television coverage of the quarterfinals and the championship will be broadcast on Golf Channel on July 26th from 10 AM to noon, and July 27th from 1:00 to 3:00 PM (PDT), respectively.
More information on the U. S. Junior Amateur can be found on the USGA website; information on the Martis Camp community, its golf course and other amenities, can be found on the Martis Camp website.