From the 100th edition of the Wisconsin State Open being staged where the first one was played (Blue Mound Golf and Country Club in Wauwatosa) to Wisconsin's first opportunity to host one of golf's greatest events (the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits), it promises to be a historic year on Wisconsin fairways in 2020.
And don't think for a minute that the Wisconsin State Golf Association won't be front and center in the history-making department. The WSGA on Tuesday revealed its 2020 schedule that, for the first time, features men's, women's and combination events to be administered entirely by its staff.
Previously, it provided resources to the Wisconsin Women's State Golf Association for its events, which were largely planned, staffed and administered by volunteers within its organization. That structure will change effective Jan. 1 when the WWSGA will fall under the administrative umbrella of the WSGA, allowing registration of women's events to take place using the same technology in place for handicapping and men's events, as part of a previously announced merger of the two association at year's end.
Meanwhile, the WSGA figures to have unprecedented interest in its signature men's event when the Wisconsin State Amateur Championship goes to Milwaukee Country Club in late July. It marks just the third time since the WSGA switched its format for the event from match play to stroke play that the State Am will be held at Milwaukee CC, which continues to be ranked among "America's 100 Greatest Courses" by Golf Digest, coming in at No. 74 in its 2019-20 biennial list released in January.
Finally, the WSGA will make a significant change to the format of its match-play championship when it goes to The Club at Strawberry Creek in Kenosha. The field will feature 64 golfers divided into 16 four-player pods — think World Golf Championship Match Play on the PGA Tour — with three sessions of round-robin competition to create a 16-player, single-elimination bracket, played out as it was previously when 168 golfers played 18 holes of stroke-play qualifying to establish a 64-player match-play bracket.
“We have terrific venues for all of our events, and that just underscores the great cooperation there is in golf in the state of Wisconsin,” Bill Linneman, director of rules and competitions for the WSGA, said in a story posted to the association's website announcing the its 2020 tournament schedule. “We have great courses, we have great players. It’s just everyone working together to make golf as good as it can be in this state.”
Indeed, men's and women's amateur golfers of all ages will have a full calendar of events from which to choose during the 2020 season. Here are some of the highlights, including several events that have always had co-ed opportunities to them that can now be found entirely on the WSGA website.
In addition to the State Am going to Milwaukee CC, where Marquette golfer Hunter Eichhorn will defend his championship, other highlights of the WSGA men's schedule include:
- U.S. Open Local Qualifying launching the 2020 competitive season May 11 with its 18-hole qualifier at Hidden Glen Golf Club in Cedarburg.
- The WSGA State Match Play Championship moving a week later in June — it will be played June 22-25 at The Club at Strawberry Creek in Kenosha — to accommodate high school boys golfers whose season was pushed back two weeks after the PGA Tour Champions moved the American Family Insurance Championship to June 5-7.
- It could potentially be a long week of golf for the match-play finalists. The 54th Ray Fischer State Amateur Championship will be played June 26-28 at Janesville Riverside Golf Course featuring a 36-hole finale.
- The WSGA Senior Amateur being played Aug. 24-25 at Minocqua Country Club, which drew rave reviews in 2018 when it hosted the State Am.
- The WSGA Pater-Filius (Father-Son), which annually plays to full fields for its gross and net divisions, will be played July 22 on both the Links and the Woodlands layouts at the Golf Courses of Lawsonia in Green Lake. The facility played host to the 2019 State Am on its famed Links Course.
The Wisconsin Women's State Amateur, which continues to see an increase in high school and college golfers competing each year, will be played on a course very familiar to that demographic of its tournament field when it comes to Blackhawk Country Club in Madison July 20-21. The club annually hosts the Sherri Steinhauer Invitational, a girls-only event on the Wisconsin PGA Junior Tour schedule.
Other highlights of the 2020 women's schedule include:
- The WSGA State Women's Match-Play being held June 22-24 at Hidden Glen GC in Cedarburg. Racine's Sarah Busey, a junior this season at Santa Clara (Calif.) University, will be going for her third straight title.
- The WSGA State Women's Four-Ball Championship, which has become a popular team event for high school and college teammates, being played July 6 at West Bend Country Club.
- The WSGA Senior Women's Amateur (June 22-23) and WSGA Senior Women's Mid-Amateur (Aug. 9-10) going to two popular tracks — Lake Arrowhead Golf Club in Nekoosa and the Links Course at the GCs of Lawsonia in Green Lake, respectively.
Other combination events
One of the benefits of a single association for men's and women's amateur events will be a simplified process for registering for mixed-team events. That will not only continue to enhance those kind of events already housed on the WSGA website, such as the Net Partners and Member Series events, but should produce a greater awareness for these former WWSGA staples:
- The WSGA Mother-Child Championship, the former Mother/Son and Mother/Daughter combined two years ago after waning interest as separate events. It is June 6-7 at Mascoutin Golf Club in Berlin, a Saturday and a Sunday that will allow boys golfers still competing in the WIAA tournament but wanting to play with mom to make it one of their two non-school events now allowed each season under WIAA rules.
- The WSGA State Father-Daughter Championship, which drew 47 teams in 2019 and will be held Aug. 3 at Legend at Bristlecone in Hartland.