The United States Golf Association is known for mostly two things. It, along with The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, administers the rules of the sport. The USGA also runs the U.S. Open that you see on the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and the Champions Tour.

What you may not know about the USGA is it has other National Championships at the amateur level. Those events run from Men’s and Women’s Amateur Championships to the U.S. Amateur Four-ball Championship, which was just created two years ago to replace the U.S. Amateur Public Links and the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championships.

This past September at The Carnegie Abbey Club in Portsmouth, R.I., Auburn natives Curt Jordan and Craig Chapman qualified for the 2016 U.S. Amateur Four-ball Championship that was held May 21-25 at the Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, N.Y. 

“The USGA has about a dozen Championships give or take,” Curt Jordan said. “So anything they have we place a lot value in. They used to have a Public Links Championship and they got rid of that tournament and replaced it with this one. Golf is a pretty small world so word traveled pretty fast. Some our friends, Joe Alvarez and Ricky Jones played in the inaugural event at the Olympic Club in San Francisco last year. Craig and I tried to qualify, but we didn’t get in.”  

Fourball is typically played in a match play format compared to the more traditional stroke-play format. It pits two teams of two with each player using their own ball. The player with the lowest score on each hole wins that hole for his or hers team. 

During the qualifier, it was under stroke play rules where Jordan and Chapman combined to shoot a 63, finishing one stroke behind the winners. They weren’t the only locals who tried to qualify as Andrew Slattery of Minot and Matt Greenleaf of Portland, along with the team  of Jeffrey Cole of Scarborough and Mike Doran of Portland, went down. Both of those teams shot a 65 — one shot from making it to Winged Foot.  

“We traveled with few of our friends. There was at least six of us in all,” Jordan said. “A couple of the other Maine guys just missed it by a shot. They were actually the first and second alternates, so we were all happy that Maine represented quite nicely.” 

If Winged Foot sounds familiar, it’s because their West Course has hosted five U.S. Opens, most recently in 2006. It will also host the 2020 tournament and it has hosted a PGA Championship for the men. The East Course has hosted two Women’s U.S. Open’s and one Senior U.S. Open. The club as whole has hosted two men’s U.S Amateur’s.

“It was special playing at Winged Foot, a course with that much history,” Jordan said. “It’s ranked in a lot of publications as one of the top courses in the world. It was an added bonus it was at a place with that caliber was just great. The best golf course I ever played. They have two courses, both are phenomenal”  

At Winged Foot, the tournament brought 128 teams across the country. The first two day of the tournament were played under stroke play to cut the field down to 32 teams for the match play portion of the tournament. Curt and Craig finished a tie for 118th with a two-day score of 148, which was +8, 11 shots from making it to the match play portion of the tourney.

The tournament was won by Benjamin Baxter and Andrew Buchanan. They defeated Brandon Cigna and Ben Warnquist 3 and 2 in the finals.   

“Clearly the skill level even outside of New England, the skill level goes up,” Chapman said. “We definitely weren’t the best players there. Can we compete? Definitely.  You had guys that are not even in college or in college that play year-round. They are high level players and a few of them will probably will make the PGA Tour, that type of player.”

They could see why Geoff Ogilvy’s winning score of +5 in the 2006 U.S. Open was one of the highest winning scores in major championship history.

“It was about how we thought it would be,” Chapman said. “It was very difficult. You had to keep the ball in the fairway. If you are in the rough, it was a stroke penalty almost every time. The greens were quick, but it did reward good golf. If you were playing well, you could put up a number.”   

Jordan said that had the courses a little easier than if they were hosting an U.S. Open. He also said he never played on a course where it was a priority. 

They also brought friends along to be their caddies. Brent Profenno caddied for Jordan and Tung Ha caddied for Chapman.

“What they did the best was read the greens and kept the attitude light,” Chapman said. “They were able to calm us down when we were getting frustrated. They kept telling us, ‘look where you are at, you are at Winged Foot, this is incredible.'” 

They look to return to the third annual event in 2017 at the famed No. 2 Course at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in Pinehurst, N.C. In the fall they will look to qualify in the fall at the Green Valley Country Club in Portsmouth, R.I.

“Our confidence level is definitely higher than it was an year ago, knowing that we can compete with these guys,” Chapman said. “If we happen to get in again by qualifying, I believe we can make the cut. I really do. Playing at Winged Foot going through the whole thing is definitely is going to help and I think we are both very confident.”

Before fall arrives, Jordan will be qualifying for another USGA event in August, the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship which will be held in the middle of September at the Stonewall Links Elverson, Pa.

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