Caves Valley makes USGA take notice

John Steadman

October 09, 1992|By John Steadman

More accolades will follow but, for right now, Caves Valley Golf Club is on its way eventually to being selected as the stage for one of the game's major events. The U.S. Golf Association has decreed that the Baltimore area's most talked-about new course of the last 60 years will be the site of the 1995 Mid-Amateur Championship.

The USGA makes no statements of approval nor does it extend promises, but to include Caves Valley in the organization's centennial celebration is a highly valued recognition, and endorsement, for what it already has accomplished: Creation of a golf course that in 14 months has won sterling appraisals from some of the leading amateurs and professionals in the world.

The Mid-Amateur is a tournament that attracts players who are at least 25 years of age and, for the most part, have not signified an intent to turn professional, but instead are interested in maintaining a business profession while continuing to play golf as an avocation.

Such players as Jay Sigel, a three-time winner; Jim Holtgrieve, Michael Podolak, David Eger, Jim Stuart and Danny Yates have won previous Mid-Amateur competitions. Last year, 3,684 golfers from around the country attempted to qualify, with the low 64 scores earning their way into the match-play contest.

It's a relatively new concept -- the Mid-Amateur -- since it dates to only 1981. It was introduced, according to the USGA, as a function that would accommodate golfers of the post-college years. In describing a need for originating such a tournament, the USGA explains:

"Before the arrival of the Mid-Amateur, the post-college players could compete in and sometimes be successful in the Amateur Championship [the U.S. Amateur], but the odds are against a player who fits his golf around his work and family, and then competes against college golfers, for whom the game is close to a full-time activity."

If Baltimore, which is starved for a golf tournament of stature, grants the Mid-Amateur a successful acceptance, then the USGA will be made to realize the metropolitan area has passed one of the initial tests for future considerations. Ultimately, other USGA events could follow. A U.S. Senior Open, a Walker Cup and even a U.S. Open might possibly be allocated.

Meanwhile, it's learned Caves Valley is among the final three under consideration by Golf Digest for being named the "best new private course" of the year. Kerry Haigh, director of tournament operations for the PGA, inspected Caves Valley and also pronounced it worthy of holding a PGA Championship. High praise.

Leslie Disharoon, president of Caves Valley, said, "Baltimore golfers and fans have been ready for a national championship for years and we are delighted Caves Valley has been chosen for the Mid-Amateur."

The host professional, Dennis Satyshur, is ecstatic. "Stop to consider we are only 14 months old and the USGA, in what will be its 100th year of celebration [1995], has picked Caves Valley," he said. "This is a rich compliment. The USGA doesn't do things like awarding a tournament unless it feels something special is here."

Two other venues for USGA championships in 1995 are Shinnecock on Long Island and the Newport (R.I.) Country Club. Caves Valley will undoubtedly be the newest course to host any of the USGA events in what is planned to be a momentous anniversary year. The Mid-Amateur at Caves Valley will be played in September. The specific dates remain to be determined.

"It's a great time of the year for golf in Maryland," said Bruce Cadenelli, course superintendent. "The fairways and greens will

be in excellent condition. The trees in the early autumn will be taking on color and the weather, traditionally, is comfortable for both players and spectators."

The public will be invited but tickets are not yet available. That's somewhat premature, since it's three years away, but the Baltimore golfing community desires and deserves a chance to watch top players and also to visit Caves Valley, an exclusive course built by award-winning architect Tom Fazio at a cost of what has been estimated at $40 million.

Vinny Giles, a former British and U.S. Amateur champion, who has played in two Chesapeake Cup competitions at Caves Valley, greeted the announcement with positive reaction.

"This will be a great site," he said. "Caves Valley is something of a throwback because of its deep devotion to golf and camaraderie. It's in one of the nicest areas of the country you could imagine. And in three additional years the course will mature even more.

"It's first-rate now so try to conceive what it's going to be like for a tournament of such stature. Reg Murphy, who lives in the area, will probably be president of the USGA and 1995 is going to be a grand year of celebration for the USGA. I'm elated over what has happened."

In 1988, the Baltimore Country Club was host to the U.S. Women's Open, under Murphy's direction, and it set records for attendance, plus receiving plaudits as a classic undertaking in all aspects.

Now the USGA will be taking another look hereabout, this time at Caves Valley, and it is the first tangible sign that Baltimore's future is going to include a major golf presentation. When? Within the decade.

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