Woodward, Okla. — By Scott Wanish
The Edmond Sun
he United States Golf Association was born in New York City in December of 1894 with the purpose of executing national golf championships.
“To conduct that championship schedule, we need great clubs that are, of course, committed and dedicated to our mission and the championship test that you’re going to hear about today from Dan (Burton, USGA Championship Committe Chairman) and Jeff (Hall, USGA managing director of Rules and Competitions) and what we’re trying to achieve to identify these great players,” Tom O’Toole Jr. said Wednesday, who is the president of the USGA.
“From time to time, we have partnerships that elevate themselves and excel over others and certainly we’ve had that partnership here with the Oak Tree National Golf Club.”
O’Toole went on to give an earmarked thanks to Ed Evans, the general chairman of the U.S. Senior Open Championship and owner of Oak Tree National; Everett Dobson, an owner along with Evans; Jack Talley, Vice-General Chair of the championship and Tom Jones, president and CEO of Oak Tree National.
“Gentlemen, I know that I speak for everybody at the USGA we’re so grateful that, one, you issued the invitation, and more importantly, the warm hospitality we’ve received,” O’Toole said. “We’re also appreciative of that warm hospitality that golf fans in this region will experience over the next week.”
The 2014 U.S. Senior Open has eclipsed the 2,000 mark in volunteers, mainly of Edmond and the Oklahoma City region.
“Without them, and again, a dedicated partnership, we just couldn’t pull these championships off,” O’Toole said.
The initial U.S. Senior Open started in 1980 with a minimum age of 55. Just a year later, the age was dropped to 50. It is now the biggest championship for the seniors.
“We appreciate the warm welcome we’ve received here in Edmond, which, of course, has been led by Mayor Charles Lamb,” O’Toole concluded.
The last USGA event played at Oak Tree National was the U.S. Amateur in 1984, won by Edmond’s Scott Verplank, who turned 50 Wednesday to be eligible by the latest of margins for the U.S. Senior Open.
The purse has increased from last year to $3.5 million.
“A fantastic field and test of golf,” Hall said. “Nobody will pretend their way to the U.S. Senior Open Championship on Sunday.”
Oak Tree National will play 7,219 yards for a par 71, the maximum distance for seniors according to Hall. Average fairway width will be 28-34 yards and the greens are small, averaging just 4,800 square feet.
“The golf course is magnificent,” Hall praised. “Josh Cook (Oak Tree National golf superintendent) and his team have been fantastic in their approach and attention to detail.”