Getting into four of the USGA’s premier amateur championships will be both a little easier and a little harder starting in 2024.
On Wednesday, the governing body announced what it characterised as the most significant changes to its amateur championship qualifying model in more than 20 years. Starting next year, the US Amateur, US Women’s Amateur, US Junior and US Girls’ Junior will adjust the number of players exempt directly into the championships as well as expand exemption categories and adjust how it conducts qualifiers to fill out the championship fields.
The biggest structural changes will occur with the US Amateur, which boasts a field of 312 each year. That number will remain the same but starting in 2024, there will be two stages of qualifying for the championship: an 18-hole local qualifier at 45 sites followed by an 18-hole final qualifier at 19 sites. Previously golfers have been competing in one 36-hole qualifier to try to earn their way in. The US Amateur first employed qualifying events for the championship in 1931.
While adding another qualifier makes it a bit more onerous for some players trying to get into the field, top-ranked amateurs will have more direct access as the USGA will increase the number of players fully exempt off the World Amateur Golf Ranking from 50 to 100. Additionally, the top 600 players off the WAGR will be exempt from the local qualifying.
The USGA also will create still-to-be-determined exemptions for state, Allied Golf Association, regional and national amateur champions.