BOSTON (AP) — The U.S. Senior Open is returning to the Salem Country Club in 2017.
The USGA announced on Wednesday that it is returning to the Donald Ross-designed course in Peabody, Massachusetts, for the first time since Bruce Fleischer won the Senior Open there in a rain-soaked but well-attended tournament in 2001.
"We had a great week back then," said Tim Flaherty, the USGA official in charge of the tournament. "It's the golf course — one of the very best golf courses in the country. It's a great old gem; it's a classic."
Salem also hosted the U.S. Women's Open in 1954 and '84, the 1932 U.S. Women's Amateur and the 1977 U.S. Men's Senior Amateur. The course has a smaller footprint that prevents it from hosting a U.S. Open, but some changes have been made on the grounds since 2001 that will open up operational space, Flaherty said.
For the '01 Senior Open, the USGA sold 15,000 day passes through a lottery a year in advance, along with 10,000 more spectators through the corporate sponsors.
"Outside the ropes was a tremendous success. It's the only time we sold out in advance: it hadn't happened before, and it hasn't happened since," he said. "It's a tight piece of property but we made it work. We were thrilled with the results."
Flaherty said the course, which played in 2001 as a 6,709-yard, par-70, won't need any major changes to prepare it for the USGA.
"There will not be any changes, really," he said. "There may be a place where we ask for a tee or something like that. But the thing about Salem is that we don't really have to do anything. We've got a Donald Ross classic we're thrilled to be going to."