When the tournament was last held in 2001 on the Donald Ross course at the Peabody, Mass. club, history was made when the entire ticket allotment of 25,000 per day sold out one year in advance—something that has never happened since.
Salem Country Club in Peabody, Mass., which hosted one of the most successful U.S. Senior Open championship in the tournament’s 34-year history, has been picked to host the event again in 2017 from June 29-July 2, The Boston Globe reported.
The private club, which dates to 1895 and features a well-respected course designed by Donald Ross in 1925, has hosted five national championships conducted by the United States Golf Association (USGA), including the 2001 U.S. Senior Open. When that tournament was held at Salem CC, the Globe noted, it made history by selling out its entire ticket allotment — 25,000 daily — one year in advance.
That had never happened before, and it hasn’t happened since, the Globe noted, and the USGA certainly didn’t forget about that kind of support in deciding to return the 2017 tournament to Salem CC.
The announcement marked the second time in May that the 50-and-over Champions Tour disclosed plans to bring an elite tournament to the Boston area, the Globe noted. On May 5, the tour announced it was taking its Senior Players Championship to Belmont (Mass.) Country Club in 2015.
Now the USGA has followed suit, the Globe reported, set to bring its most prestigious senior tournament back to a region that held a Champions Tour event every year from 1981-2008, with the Bank of America Championship at Nashawtuc Country Club in Concord, Mass.
“The USGA is delighted to return to Salem Country Club and the New England region,” said Daniel Burton, a Vice President and Championship Committee Chairman with the organization. “We expect an enthusiastic setting for conducting a successful 2017 U.S. Senior Open.”
“It was a pretty easy decision, for two reasons: The golf course, and the success we had there in 2001,” added Tim Flaherty, who has been the senior director for the U.S. Senior Open for 18 years. “I think all golf in New England draws. The North Shore really supports events. We had a tremendous Senior Open there, a terrific leaderboard.”
Despite the lack of low scores the last time the Senior Open was at Salem (the 36-hole cut came at 9 over, and there were only 28 under-par rounds all week), Flaherty said the player response was “tremendous.”
“It’s a great old Donald Ross course, and the membership has really done a wonderful job preserving the design,” he said. “Sometimes you go play a Ross course and you look around and say, ‘This is a Donald Ross?’ When you go to Salem, you look around and say, ‘This is Donald Ross.’ The beginning and end of this story is really the golf course.”
Bruce Fleisher won the 2001 U.S. Senior Open, shooting a final-round 68 at Salem’s par-70, 6,709-yard course to finish 72 holes at even par. Fleisher beat Isao Aoki and Gil Morgan by one shot and Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player also competed in the tournament, with Nicklaus, Allen Doyle, and Jim Colbert finishing two shots back in a tie for fourth. At one point late in an exciting final round, five players were tied for the lead.
In addition to the 2001 U.S. Senior Open, Salem CC has hosted the 1932 U.S. Women’s Amateur, 1954 U.S. Women’s Open, 1977 U.S. Senior Amateur, and 1984 U.S. Women’s Open.
Because the USGA works on an invitation system with its championships—a course or club first needs to officially invite the organization to hold a tournament there — it was waiting to hear from Salem, which took that step nearly five years ago, the Globe reported. Discussions since then have been ongoing until a tournament and a year were agreed upon.
“Salem Country Club is pleased and honored that the U.S. Senior Open championship will return to our storied and challenging golf course in 2017,” said Bill Sheehan, a Salem member who will serve as the tournament’s General Chairman.
“Our entire membership looks forward to welcoming many of the game’s greatest players, the tens of thousands of golf enthusiasts who will be in attendance, and the millions who will be watching on television,” Sheehan added.
This year’s U.S. Senior Open will be held July 10-13 at Oak Tree National in Edmond, Okla. The tournament will be played at Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento, Calif. in 2015, and at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio, in 2016.
The 2017 U.S. Senior Open will be the 57th USGA championship held in Massachusetts, the Globe reported. In 2014 the U.S. Amateur was held at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., and the 2016 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur will be held at Wellesley (Mass.) Country Club.
Notable players who are not currently on the Champions Tour who will be eligible for the 2017 U.S. Senior Open include John Daly, Davis Love, Jeff Maggert, Jesper Parnevik, Steve Stricker and David Toms, the Globe noted.