Originally created 02/16/02

2005 PGA to Baltusrol when Country Club asks out



LOS ANGELES -- The Country Club, the famed golf course outside Boston where the Americans staged a raucous comeback to win the Ryder Cup, agreed Friday to give up the 2005 PGA Championship rather than downsizing the event.

Instead, the PGA of America will takes it major championship to Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey, which held the first of its seven U.S. Opens in 1903 but has never had a PGA Championship.

"The only thing that disappointing is for the golf fans of New England," said John Cornish, a member of The Country Club and general chairman of the 1999 Ryder Cup. "We were hoping to bring another major to Brookline."

Cornish said the club simply did not have the same resources and was faced with cutting back on the size of galleries, corporate tents and the media.

"That's not consistent with where the PGA Championship has come to be in the last several years," PGA of America chief executive Jim Awtrey said.

The Country Club got the '99 Ryder Cup and the '05 PGA as a package.

The Ryder Cup generated an estimated $63 million in revenue. Golf Digest magazine reported that among the PGA expenses were about $17 million to The Country Club. Awtrey said the club did not have to return any of its Ryder Cup profit or buy out its contract.

"We agreed to release each other from any obligation given what they were prepared to present," Awtrey said. "This had no bearing on the previous tournament."

But the Ryder Cup clearly had an impact on The Country Club.

Cornish said it wasn't clear whether the club could have access to nearby properties that were used for such things as parking.

"We were working hard with the PGA to find a solution," he said. "At some point, you've got to know whether you can do what you want to do. They needed to know, and the answers weren't there."

Also, the Primrose course - an additional nine holes at The Country Club that was used for corporate hospitality - took a beating.

"We did not want that to happen again," Cornish said.

The Country Club, one of five founding golf courses of the U.S. Golf Association, was where 19-year-old amateur Francis Ouimet helped put golf on the map in America by beating Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in the 1913 U.S. Open.

An estimated 40,000 people crammed into the course for a Ryder Cup that was perhaps the most memorable in history - not only the American comeback, but the boisterous behavior of fans who jeered European players and shouted obscenities.

Brookline's loss is Baltusrol's gain.

The course last held a U.S. Open in 1993, when Lee Janzen won by two strokes over Payne Stewart with a 272, matching the record set by Jack Nicklaus at Baltusrol in 1980 and later tied by Tiger Woods at Pebble Beach.

"They want to host majors. They've been preparing for this," Awtrey said.