Washington has a richer golf heritage than many folks realize. Here are some assorted historical facts and some bits of information about the game in the Evergreen State:

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Washington has a richer golf heritage than many folks realize. Here are some assorted historical facts and some bits of information about the game in the Evergreen State:

The first U.S. Women’s Open was held at the Spokane Country Club in 1946 and the winner was Patty Berg.

The PGA Championship, one of golf’s four “majors,” has been held in Washington twice.

In 1944, it was held at the Manito Country Club in Spokane and Bob Hamilton upset Byron Nelson 1-up in the match-play final.

The tournament returned to Washington in 1998 at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish and Vijay Singh won with a four-round total of 271.

Jack Westland of Everett won the 1952 U.S. Amateur at the Seattle Golf Club and used the victory as a launching pad for a successful campaign for the U.S. Congress.

Arnold Palmer shot a 66 on his 66th birthday.

In the final round of the 1995 GTE Classic at Inglewood Golf Club in Kenmore, Arnold Palmer celebrated his birthday by shooting his age — 66.

What a trio! At the 1945 Esmeralda Open in Spokane held at Indian Canyon, Byron Nelson won with a 266 total. Sam Snead shot 63 on the final day and tied for third with Ben Hogan, who had a hole-in-one.

At the 1978 Washington Open at the Glendale Country Club in Bellevue, Fred Couples played the final round in tennis shoes and won.

The Safeco Classic ran from 1982 to 1999 at Meridian Valley Country Club in Kent. It provided the first LPGA win for Juli Inkster in 1983 and in 1985 it provided the 43rd and final LPGA win for Kirkland native JoAnne Carner.

A total of 18 United States Golf Association national championships have been played in Washington. The next one will be the 2006 U.S. Public Links Championship at Gold Mountain’s Olympic Course outside Bremerton.

The Tacoma Country and Golf Club was founded in 1894 and claims to be the oldest continuously operated golf club west of the Mississippi.

Karsten Solheim, who developed Ping putters and golf clubs, was a Seattle native who attended Ballard High School and the University of Washington. He died in 2000 at age 88.

The first African-American to win a USGA championship was Bill Wright, a graduate of Franklin High School, who won the U.S. Public Links title in 1959. He played his college golf at Western Washington.

In the 14-year span from 1955 to 1968, Washington women won the U.S. Women’s Amateur nine times. JoAnne (Gunderson) Carner won five titles, Anne Quast Sander won three and Pat Lesser Harbottle won once.


It all added up to a course-record 60 when Arizona State’s Paul Casey won the Pac-10 championship at Broadmoor golf club in 1999.

The average handicap index of the 51,982 men in the Washington State Golf Association is 16.5. The average index for the 14,885 women in the WSGA is 29.4.

By one count, there are 300 golf courses in the state, including pitch-and-putt layouts.

The highest greens fees in the state are $150 (plus tax) to play the Coal Creek Course at The Golf Club at Newcastle during peak season. The cheapest greens fee is $1.50 at the grandiosely named Pend Oreille Golf and Country Club outside Metaline Falls in the far northeast section of the state. The course has sand greens and you pay on the “honor system” by putting money in a collection box.

In 1999, Paul Casey shot a course-record 10-under 60 on the final day to win the Pac-10 championship at Broadmoor Golf Club. The accomplishment rekindled memories of Byron Nelson’s 62-68-63-66-259 to win the Seattle Open in 1945.

Casey angered some with anti-American comments.

Casey, an Englishman, made headlines last fall when he said, “Oh, we properly hate them (the American Ryder Cup team). Americans can be bloody annoying. Sometimes they infuriate me. In Scottsdale (Arizona, where he has a home), it’s not so bad because the people there have traveled and you can have civilized conversations with them. But the vast majority of Americans simply don’t know what is going on.”

Casey received a rainstorm of criticism and was dropped by Titleist, one of his sponsors. Casey plays on the PGA Tour.

The state courses with the highest slope (difficulty) rating from the championship tees are: Indian Summer Golf & Country Club (Olympia) 146 (113 is a standard course), Plateau Club (Sammamish) 145 and Canterwood Golf and Country Club (Gig Harbor) 144.

Craig Smith: 206-464-8279 or csmith@seattletimes.com