We love to test ourselves against history and greatness. The opportunity to play a round of golf on a major championship course is both unforgettable and priceless. Over the course of its history, seven public-access sites have welcomed the world's best golfers to the USGA Women's Open championship. With the exception of one site in Wisconsin, all are eastern courses. If you've a hankering to test yourself against the best, read on and make plans to visit one or all when next you travel.
Atlantic City Country Club (1948, 1965, 1975)
Ever wonder where the term birdie was coined for golf? Wonder no longer. It was at ACCC. Located along the marsh, across from the glitz of the gambling spit, Atlantic City is great, traditional golf, from tee 1 to green 18. The course was brought back to its former glory by Tom Doak and Renaissance Golf, and it is a treat!
Dunes Golf and Beach Club (1962)
The 13th hole at Dunes is called Waterloo, and it is a doozy. Waterloo is a long par five that bends to the right, almost 120 degrees, around a lake. After a safe drive, you determine how much of the water you will challenge. Don't get tooo close, as you'll find a few gators basking in the sun. Dunes Golf Club is everything that Robert Trent Jones, Senior, wanted in a golf course: a challenge for the pro, and an easy bogey for the hack.
There are iconic hotels in America, and the Homestead is one of them. Situated in the enticing town of Hot Springs, Virginia, the Homestead was home for many years to the great Sam Snead, who served as professional. The Homestead has two courses, the Old and the Cascades. Amateur Catherine Lacoste of France took the title, still the only non-professional to win the championship.
Pine Needles (1996, 2001 & 2007)
Three of the greatest champions of women's golf were crowned Open champion at Pine Needles, just outside of Pinehurst, North Carolina. Annika Sorenstom, Karrie Webb, and Christie Kerr earned titles within a decade of each other. In addition to the Needles course, the resort also owns the MidPines course (across the street) and the Southern Pines layout (in nearby Aberdeen.) People might travel to the Carolina Sandhills for a certain resort, but this one is catching up kinda quickly.
One of the more unique venues for a US Open championship, the course at Blackwolf Run is a composite of the River and Meadows Valley courses. In 1998, Jenny Chuasiriporn nearly matched Lacoste's effort, only to be outdone by Se Ri Pak in a playoff. It's said that one of the holes on the composite course plays in reverse for the championship. Now, if that isn't cool, we don't know what else might be.
Funny how a course comes to host an Open. When Lake Merced (California) bailed on the 2003 Open, Pumpkin Ridge (Oregon) took it on. The Orchards, on the Mount Holyoke College campus, was tapped to receive the field in 2004. Meg Mallon, a member of the LPGA hall of fame, secured her 2nd Open championship in South Hadley, and the small, Massachusetts club had a season for the ages.
It's appropriate that we finish with the deuce at Pinehurst. The venerable Donald J. Ross, jr., course hosted the women's and men's championships in consecutive weeks. Possibly the only site capable of such a feat, Michelle Wie posted a 2-under par total to win her only major title, by two shots over Stacy Lewis.