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Something to Shoot For – local champions now exempted into USGA national championships

For the amateur player, the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur are considered to be the most difficult of the USGA’s national championships to get in to. And qualifying for the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior is no easy task either.

There are so many good young players, and so few spots available in the championships proper. And the qualifying process often feels like a one-in-a-million chance, with typically a full field of local golfers playing one or two rounds in a day, all competing for just one, two or maybe three available spots.

Well, starting this year, there is good news for those on their quest.

The champions of several of the Northwest’s championships will now be exempted into the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Women’s Amateur, U.S. Junior Amateur or U.S. Girls’ Junior.

Along with having their name engraved on a trophy as a state or regional amateur champion, each champion will now earn an exemption into their respective USGA national championship.

The respective championships conducted by the region’s Associations are now deemed an official USGA Exemption Event – win it, and you’re in it.

(A complete list of which championships within states and regions that will conduct USGA Exemption Events can be found here.)

For a schedule of championships being conducted locally:

In addition to this, the top finishers in many of the state championships are also locally exempt for next year’s USGA qualifying.

This has been a long time in coming, with the USGA collaborating with its Allied Golf Associations (AGAs) around the U.S. in creating fair avenues for players to compete at the highest levels, rewarding their accomplishments with these opportunities.

“To my knowledge, these kinds of exemptions have never been provided before, to the winners of our state and regional championships,” said Nate Schroeder, the director of rules and competition for the Pacific Northwest Golf Association. “We’re excited about this opportunity for the region’s players, and this will add another layer of competitive fire to each Associations’ championships.”

Brent Paladino, the USGA’s senior director of championship administration, said, “The openness and aspirational nature is a defining characteristic of USGA championships. These revisions will provide players with additional pathways to our championships through traditional qualifying, expanded exemption categories and performance in state, AGA, regional and national amateur championships.”

One of the most significant revisions in 2024 is to the U.S. Amateur, which will move from a one-stage, 36-hole qualifying format to a two-stage qualifying format with 45 18-hole local qualifying sites and 19 18-hole final qualifying sites.

In 2024, the U.S. Amateur will be held at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn.; the U.S. Women’s Amateur will be held at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.; the U.S. Junior Amateur will be held at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.; and the U.S. Girls’ Junior will be played at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana, Calif.