In 1990, the club hosted the USGA Junior Amateur Championship. It was Tiger Woods’s first USGA event (he made it to the semi-finals of match play as a 14 year old prodigy). Indeed, that 1990 event was the only U.S. Junior that Tiger competed in but did not win. In the final, Mathew Todd of Visalia defeated Dennis Hillman of Rye, New York, 1 up. It was a dramatic final match, as Hillman, who bested Woods in the semi-final, led 2-up heading to the 16th tee. However, Hillman three-putted the 16th green and when Todd drained a 40 foot birdie putt on 17th, the match was all square with one hole to play. Todd then hit his third shot close on the par-5 18th hole. Hillman’s third shot finished over the green and when he chipped long and missed the par putt, he conceded the match.
In 2012, another USGA championship came to Lake Merced when the club hosted the 64th U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, thus joining only a handful of clubs around the country that have hosted both the boys and girls national championships. The honor is altogether fitting for Lake Merced, which has been known locally as a warm home for junior golfers. The club has hosted the Northern California Junior championship over 50 times, beginning in 1930, the year Bobby Jones won golf’s Grand Slam.
Each year in June, Lake Merced hosts sectional qualifying for the national open. The competition alternates between the U.S. Open (in even years) and the U.S. Women’s Open (in odd numbered years).
In addition, club members have served on the USGA’s executive board and various USGA committees, continuing a fine tradition of giving back to the game we all love so much.
The Northern California Golf Association and Lake Merced Golf Club have been championship partners for generations. The club has hosted the NCGA’s junior championship over 50 times, a legacy that stretches back to the inaugural junior championship in 1930. So many great young players have honed their skills at Lake Merced during NCGA play that the list almost defies description. Players like Bob Rosburg (1944 champion), Ken Venturi (the 1949 champion) are just two among many who have gone on to storied careers in the game.
Lake Merced has also hosted the NCGA championship three times (1924, 1931 and 1937) and the list of competitors is an impressive array of golfing greatness. Lawson Little won the crown here in 1931, three years before he set the world on fire by winning the “Little Slam” when he captured the 1934 and 1935 U.S. and British Amateur Championships.
In addition to hosting top-flite competition, Lake Merced members have given of themselves to provide leadership to the NCGA. Several club members have served on the NCGA’s board of directors and two have been presidents, Erwin Heieck from 1953 to 1954 and Sylvan C. Frank in 1978.
In 2009, the California Golf Association selected the club to host the 98th playing of the state amateur championship, one of the oldest and most revered amateur competitions in the world. A talented field played hard for two days of medal play, followed by the low 64 players being seeded into match play brackets. In the end, the final 36-hole match pitted youth against experience as college student Geoff Gonzalez bested the 46-year old veteran Jeff Wilson to have his name engraved on the Chandler Egan Trophy.
Most recently, Lake Merced GC hosted the 104th Annual California Amateur Championship in June of 2015. Lake Merced is honored to be one of 3 courses selected in the rotation of courses from Northern California.
Over the years, Lake Merced has played host to several fine collegiate competitions. For over 20 years, from 1977 to 2000, the club hosted the annual U.S. Two Ball Championship which attracted distinguished amateurs and college teams from around the country. The roster of competitors is impressive: players such as U.S. Open champions Corey Pavin and Scott Simpson; PGA Champion Mark Brooks; and tour winners Keith Clearwater and Tim Norris.
In 2009, the club played host to the NCAA Men’s Division I Regional Finals, a prelude to the national collegiate championship. The regional was won by Arizona State, but close behind was Texas A&M, and the Aggies went on to win the championship at Inverness Golf Club in Toledo, Ohio a month after finishing second at Lake Merced.
The club hopes to host the national Division I finals in the years to come.