Could Donald Trump’s loss be Sahalee Country Club’s gain?
The Sammamish golf course, which hosted the PGA Championship in 1998 and the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in 2016, hopes so.
The PGA of America announced after last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob that it had voted to terminate the agreement to play the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey.
Marcus King, general manager of Sahalee Country Club, sprung to action and contacted the PGA of America, including Kerry Haigh, who oversees the PGA Championship, about Sahalee’s interest in being the replacement.
“I told him that our course has significantly improved since the 80th PGA Championship in 1998, our mission statement speaks directly to hosting major championships and we feel that our performance in the KPMG (Women’s PGA Championship) in 2016 proved once again that we are ready, capable and passionate about championship golf,” King said.
King said he got a note back from Haigh, who said Sahalee was on the list of possible sites and that a decision was expected next week.
“I think we have a decent chance,” King said. “We obviously did a great job on it before, some of the recommendations they made on our golf course to host another one — removing some strategic trees — we have done, and we’ve had three other tournaments since then that have all been very successful. We stand a fairly good shot.”
Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey, have garnered the most attention as possible replacement sites.
“The (PGA of America) already had Sahalee on their radar, but by reaching out and confirming (interest) with them, it put us in concrete on the list,” King said.
Sahalee was scheduled to host the 2010 PGA Championship, but the PGA of America backed out in 2005, citing concerns that the Winter Olympics in British Columbia in February 2010 would diminish the golf tournament and reduce revenue.
“We plan to come back,” Jim Awtrey, then chief executive officer of the PGA of America, said at the time.
The PGA of America was reportedly looking at coming to Sahalee sometime between 2012 and 2015, but the return never happened.
In addition to the PGA Championship and the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, Sahalee was also the host of the World Golf Championhip — NEC Invitiational in 2002 and the U.S. Senior Open in 2010.
Haigh, in charge of course setup for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, gave great praise following the 2016 event, won by Brooke M. Henderson.
“How can you not be happy?” said Haigh, who also did course setup for the 1998 PGA Championship at Sahalee. “The players loved it, we loved it, the media loved it and we got great crowds, great support and a great finish.”
King said Sahalee has also contacted the PGA of America about interest in hosting a PGA Senior Championship, and has also been in contact with the USGA about the possibility of hosting another USGA event, “but nothing definite has been decided.”
King said the course has invited Washington native John Bodenhamer, the director of USGA championships, for a visit.
“He seemed excited to partner with Sahalee once again,” King said.
Chambers Bay golf course in University Place rose to national prominence when it hosted the 2015 U.S. Open. Calls to see if Chambers Bay had any interest in hosting the 2022 PGA Championship were not immediately returned Friday.
Chambers Bay is the lead host for the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship May 22-26.
Sahalee, meanwhile, continues to seek another championship. When that happens, King said the course will be ready.
“Our course superintendent, Tom Huesgen, has been here six years now and he does a magnificent job in getting this course ready for another major championship,” King said.