A pinch-hit back in 2013 turned into a home run for the Country Club of Charleston on Tuesday with the U.S. Golf Association officially announcing that the U.S. Women’s Open will be played there in 2019.
The Women’s Open, the world’s most prestigious women’s golf tournament, will be played on the Seth Raynor-designed course May 30-June 2 in 2019, USGA president Thomas J. O’Toole Jr. said at the Country Club of Charleston. And it was the success of the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur that was the nexus for Tuesday’s announcement. When negotiations with another club for the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur fell through, the Country Club of Charleston stepped in and put on a memorable event.
“That week in 2013 paved the way. It was one of the best Women’s Amateur championships ever conducted,” O’Toole said, calling the Country Club of Charleston a world-class facility.
Frank Ford III, a longtime USGA committee member who was co-chair of the 2013 Women’s Amateur and is now general chairman for the 2019 Women’s Open, said O’Toole asked him the following year about when the USGA was going to be invited back.
The event for female professionals and amateurs is expected to draw more than 100,000 spectators and will be televised in more than 100 countries. Last year’s Women’s Open at Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club drew 135,000 spectators.
O’Toole said he didn’t anticipate any changes to the course, built in 1925 and revised in 1990-91 following Hurricane Hugo. Additional revisions were made in 2007.
“You could go out tomorrow and play the championship. You don’t touch the Mona Lisa,” O’Toole said.
He also said he didn’t foresee traffic being a problem for the course, which has little on-site parking.
“We do this all the time, with places with two-lane roads leading in and out,” O’Toole said, noting such championship sites as Pebble Beach, Winged Foot and Oakmont. He said offsite parking helps control movement into a championship venue.
Club president Cordes Ford said the membership is excited, and noted that the tournament dates are when the course is in peak condition.
“It will be the high-water mark of our club’s 115-year history,” Ford said. Ford said he’s even more excited as a native of Charleston “to present our great city.”
The Country Club of Charleston hosts three major amateur tournaments — the men’s Azalea Invitational which dates to 1946, the men’s Senior Azalea and the Beth Daniel Junior Azalea. It was a founding member of the Carolinas Golf Association and also hosted a men’s professional tournament in the 1930s and ’40s.
The Charleston area has hosted a number of men’s and women’s professional tournaments over the past 25 years, starting with the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course. The Ocean Course also hosted the 2012 PGA Championship, which will return to Kiawah Island in 2021.
The LPGA’s Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika (Sorenstam) was played at RiverTowne Country Club in Mount Pleasant in 2007 and 2008.
The U.S. Women’s Open has been played in South Carolina once previously, in 1962 at The Dunes Club in Myrtle Beach.