Looking ahead to a new season

Posted December 19, 2016 - By Western Pennsylvania Golf Association

Photo Emily Stock, 90.5 WESA

The WPGA championship season will be here before we know it. While we wait for the snow to melt with rising temperatures, let’s take a moment to reflect on the season that was while we look toward a new season.

This season brought much excitement to Western Pennsylvania.

The region was on golf’s biggest stage with the return of the U.S. Open Championship to Oakmont Country Club for a record ninth time. For the first time this century, a local player, Mike VanSickle, made it to the U.S. Open from local qualifying at The Club of Nevillewood.

The Kahkwa Club in Erie played host to the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship. Katie Miller advanced to the quarter-finals for the season’s best showing by a local player.

The West Penn Open Championship returned to Longue Vue Club for the first time in 18 years, and Devin Gee became the fourth different Oakmont head golf professional to win it.

And Dan Thompson, a three time West Penn Open champion, claimed the West Penn Amateur Championship in his first attempt after he regained amateur status. Thompson became the 12th player in Association history to win both Association majors in a career.

This season also brought great sadness to the region and the WPGA family. We said goodbye to Arnold Palmer, our greatest champion and favorite son. We also said goodbye to Fred Gibbons, WPGA President 2004, and our inaugural West Penn Mid-Amateur champion. Both will be missed.

As we look forward to 2017, we kick off the season on the road to the Erin Hills with a stop at Quicksilver Golf Club in early May for Local Qualifying for the U.S. Open.

We have added more competitive opportunities for senior golfers with the WPGA Senior Series, and juniors age 18 and younger will once again be able to compete in the U.S. Junior Amateur and West Penn Junior Championships.

While we say goodbye to the Amateur Public Links Championship, we welcome the inaugural Men’s and Women’s Net Championships.

The West Penn Amateur will return to Sunnehanna Country Club and the West Penn Open will return to Butler Country Club. The last time each hosted these events—Sunnehanna in 2007 and Butler in 2008—Nathan Smith won both. Little did we know 2008 would be the last time an Amateur won our Open Championship.

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort will open Pete Dye’s newest design, Shepherd’s Rock this summer and will host the 2017 Jamison Cup Inter-Club Finals in October. We will also visit some old friends that haven’t been visited in awhile—Riverside Golf Course for West Penn Amateur qualifying, Treesdale Golf & Country Club for Open qualifying, Windber Country Club for U.S. Amateur qualifying, and Toftrees Golf Resort for the Senior Four-Ball Championship.

The Pittsburgh Field Club will host the top junior golfers from golf associations throughout the Northeast and Canada for the 2017 Williamson Cup in August.

Once again, the world’s greatest amateurs will compete at Sunnehanna in June for the 2017 Sunnehanna Amateur. There will certainly be some of golf’s future stars at the tournament.

All of our competitors compete on our region’s best courses against long-time friends for old trophies and a permanent place in the history of one of the nation’s oldest golf associations. We look forward to crowning new champions and forging new history in 2017. See you on the golf course this spring. Happy Holidays to all and thank you all for your support.