Hidden Creek Golf Club is ready for its first national championship.
The United States Golf Association will announce today that its 2015 Senior Amateur Championship will be held at Hidden Creek in Egg Harbor Township.
“It’s very prestigious in the world of golf because it puts you on the national scene of golf, and everybody in the country will see that Hidden Creek in New Jersey is going to be the site of the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship,” Hidden Creek owner Roger Hansen said in a phone interview Tuesday.
“So that’s really a big deal. And amongst the serious golfers in the country, they recognize that the clubs that host these championships are some of the premier clubs in the country.”
The event will be held from Sept. 26-Oct. 1, 2015. The Senior Amateur is open to male amateurs 55 and older with a USGA Handicap Index of 7.4 or lower.
This is the first USGA championship event for Hidden Creek, which opened in 2002. Hansen said the fact that his course was designed by renowned architects Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore helped persuade the USGA.
“(Hidden Creek’s) newer yet traditional design will provide a comprehensive test for the best senior amateur players,” USGA vice president and Championship Committee chairman Thomas J. O’Toole Jr. said in a news release.
Hidden Creek hosted sectional qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open in 2004, and a U.S. Open local qualifier in 2011.
The USGA brought the Men’s State Team Championship to Galloway National Golf Club in Galloway Township last September. The biggest USGA event in the area was the 1975 U.S. Women’s Open at Atlantic City Country Club in Northfield.
Hansen had a relationship with the USGA from previously owning Blue Heron Pines Golf Club in Galloway Township, which hosted the 2003 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. When he decided to go after a USGA championship for Hidden Creek, though, the Public Links event was not an option because Hidden Creek is a private club.
“It’s, I think, one of the nicest, best championships with the USGA,” Hansen said of the Senior Amateur.
This will be the third time the Senior Amateur is held in New Jersey. The event, first held in 1955, took place at Ridgewood Country Club (Bergen County) in 1957 and Mountain Ridge Country Club (Essex County) last year.
Hansen said his course is basically ready for the event and will not need much in the way of improvements. He said his experience with the Public Links will help, and that having the ShopRite LPGA Classic every year in nearby Galloway Township also could be beneficial if the Senior Amateur can get some of the volunteers from that event.
Hansen said he doesn’t expect the event to draw a large amount of spectators. More important is the prestige of getting on the USGA’s championship schedule.
A successful showing could lead to hosting bigger events in the future. Hansen brought up the Mid-Amateur, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open. And when asked about the biggest of them all, the U.S. Open, he did not rule it out.
“You never know what’s going to happen in the future,” Hansen said.
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