Bill McCarthy has worked for the United States Golf Association for 17 years and is the director of the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. He spent the past week overseeing the first-ever USGA event in Utah, at Soldier Hollow Golf Course in Midway, and talked with Mike Sorensen about the tournament.
Q. After being here all week, how has the tournament turned out as far as you're concerned?
A: It's been very successful. Three years ago when we first came here and met with everyone and toured all 36 holes, at the time the championship level was not there. But after meeting with (head professional) Chris Newson and (superintendent) Steve Moulton and these guys, you kind of take a leap of faith in terms of where you envision and expect something to be. They've exceeded our expectations. The addition of six new teeing grounds, tightening the fairways, increased maintenance practices, the development of nearly 300 volunteers, fundraising, the Utah Golf Association's involvement, the Utah Section PGA's involvement, everything just came together.
Q: How has the venue at Soldier Hollow been for a USGA event?
A: The golf course challenges the players. Length is irrelevant to these guys. We were almost 7,700 yards at altitude, so you can call that 7,100 yards and that's not long for them any more. But it's all about shot-making and the layout here on the Gold Course fulfils that. We hope when a player finishes his round and all 18 holes, we hope that he pulls all of the clubs in his bag. Whether it's off the tee or second shots or approach shots, they do that here.
Q: Were there any problems or negatives about the tournament this week?
A: There haven't been any negatives. The one concern we did have was the walkability of the golf course, but I think the shuttles that we put in place for the players offset it. It's still a demanding walk, but that's part of the challenge in competition, negotiating the topography of the golf course. It's golf, but it is a physical environment and it's something they had to deal with in terms of the walk and altitude and the heat. So the champion will have the full experience.
Q: Utah was the third-to-last state in the country to host a USGA event. Can you tell us why it took so long for Utah to get a USGA event?
A: We've had a lot of contact with people here throughout the years, but we just haven't found, up until now, the right facility that would really challenge the elite players, male or female. But I am hopeful this opens up the gate to other invitations from other facilities. We certainly love it out here. The whole area out here this time of year is fabulous.
Q: What are the chances of having another USGA event at Soldier Hollow or at another golf course in Utah?
A: We base our championship schedule on invitations. So I hope this provokes our invitation process out here and we start seeing some invitations coming in from other clubs around the state. The way our invitation process works is any club can submit an invitation to host. A simple inquiry can get that process started and then it's reviewed by our future sites committee and we talk to the Utah Golf Association and our committee members and friends out here and say, 'hey, is this club worth a visit?' And if everybody's on board we come and take a look and see if it's a good fit. If it's a good fit we try to move forward. I have a pretty good feeling we'll be back.