The Norman Transcript

June 24, 2013

Big events bring Jimmie Austin Golf Club notoriety

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — After Lauren Diaz-Yi had one last photo taken with the Women’s Amateur Public Links trophy, those who work at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club could finally relax.

They successfully hosted their second United States Golf Association national championship in four years. Deciding what was next wasn’t a topic anyone was ready to tackle.

“We want to take a little time off,” Rodney Young, the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club director of golf, said. “In four years, we’ve hosted two NCAA regionals, the Big 12 tournament and two USGA championships. Were looking forward to operating in 2014 without any on-course capital projects or a major championship.”

However, the ability to conduct national tournaments like the Public Links has put the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club on the national map. It’s no longer simply known as OU’s golf course or one of the best courses in the state. It now has national recognition as a place where

championships can be held.

The course had already displayed that in 2009 when it hosted the men’s Public Links. If there had been problems, the USGA wouldn’t have awarded it the women’s Public Links soon after.

“They did a wonderful job hosting the championship,” said Teresa Belmont, director of the Women’s Amateur Public Links for the USGA. “It’s nice when you can go back to a facility that’s hosted it before because they know what to expect. They were great. They did a great job.”

Young said there weren’t many nervous moments during the week. Many of the kinks were worked out in 2009.

“We weren’t near as nervous as we were last time. We knew what to expect,” he said. “I think golf course continues to get better and that will help us get national events. You develop a volunteer base, and that’s that biggest thing — the volunteers.”

It would be nice if the OU club could get into some sort of rotation for the event. After all, the course is the Sooner golf teams’ home. Potential recruits are abundant in the Public Links’ fields.

The only problem is: the USGA is retiring the Public Links after the 2014 events. Where does that leave the OU club with the USGA?

Belmont said the course and the OU club’s ability to get in championship condition provides options.

The U.S. Amateur — both men’s and women’s — are out because they require two courses to stage the event. The Mid-Amateurs require multiple courses, too.

However, the U.S. Junior Amateur could be the next USGA event the OU club tries to land.

“Any of our junior championships would be fine,” Belmont said. “Because it is a university golf course, I think it’s well suited for that. The golf course can set up for any of our championship events — men’s or women’s.”

The course will host a major American Junior Golf Association event in October and more NCAA events will follow. But the club wants to be a national championship site.

The OU club showed again last week that it’s worthy.

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

jshinn@normantranscript.com