Drawing an analogy from 170 years ago when skilled miner-’49ers and others (amateur diggers) chased their dream of fortune and fame during the California gold rush, this year 156 skilled professional golfers and top amateurs, all of whom have reached and surpassed their golden birthday, will chase their dream of capturing the 2019 U.S. Senior Open Championship in South Bend, Indiana, on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.
The University of Notre Dame is highly regarded for its reputation for top academics and athletic teams. Notre Dame is also recognized for its beautiful campus and Golden Dome (pure 23.9-karat gold leaf) that sits on top of the Main Administration Building. While the official nickname for the university’s athletic teams is “The Fighting Irish”, an unofficial second nickname is “The Golden Domers”.
And, in recent years, the university’s on-campus Warren Golf Course has been honored with the naming of this site to host the nation’s most coveted championship for golden-age golfers, the 2019 U.S. Senior Open (June 24-30). This will be the first ever U.S. Senior Open contested on a university golf course.
The Warren Golf Course opened on May 1, 2000, gifted through the generous donation of Notre Dame alumnus and Tulsa, Okla., resident Bill Warren (’56). The course was designed by the Austin, Texas based architectural team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. The design of the Warren Golf Course is reminiscent of the classic, walkable Irish and American courses built in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with short distances between the greens and tees. Winding its way through 250 wooded acres, the course incorporates traditional elements of the great golf courses of the early 1900s and – unlike many modern layouts – is built on subtleties rather than special effects.
With the incorporation of fescue grass rough on mounding that borders several fairways, the course could be regarded as both a parkland and a links-style design. The “par-72” course runs 7,020 yards from the back tees, 6,346 from the middle and 5,302 from the front tees. It includes 88 bunkers scattered among the 18 holes, and water comes into play on six holes. A two-sided driving range with adjoining practice greens, and a 70,000 square foot clubhouse are other amenities.
Two former ‘Golden Domer’ football standouts, now avid golfers themselves, Tim Brown and Jerome Bettis are serving as the honorary chairmen for the championship. Brown, in 1987, became the first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy, while Bettis won a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006. Both Bettis and Brown are 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees.
The format for the championship is individual stroke play over 72 holes, beginning with a field of 156 players (age 50 and over) who are either exempt from qualifying or who have qualified through any one of 34 sectional qualifying sites (May 14- June 10). After two rounds of eighteen holes, the championship field will be cut to the low 60 scores plus ties.
In the event that there is a tie for low score after 72 holes, a two-hole aggregate score playoff will be implemented, followed by sudden death if necessary. The rewards awaiting the champion are impressive. The U.S. Senior Open total purse in 2018 was $4 million, with $720,000 awarded to the champion.
This year the amounts will be as much or greater. The champion will also receive custody of the Francis D. Ouimet Memorial Trophy for the ensuing year. Although the trophy is silver, there is still a chase for gold during the U.S. Senior Open, as both the overall champion and the low amateur each receive a gold medal to keep.
Spectator gates open at 6:30am ET each day. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are practice rounds with Monday designated as Military Appreciation Day. Championship rounds begin on Thursday, June 27, and continue through Sunday, June 30. The USGA and the 2019 U.S. Senior Open are pleased to continue the tradition of providing free access to kids to the championship. All children ages 18 and under will be admitted free to the championship each day with a ticketed adult.
The U.S. Senior Open Championship will be broadcast in over 120 countries with more than 20 hours of live television coverage on FOX and FOX Sports 1.