The World Amateur Golf Council has announced that Puerto Rico has been selected as the site of the World Amateur Team Championships in 2004. The nation finished ahead of Argentina in a vote of the WAGC membership to determine the locale for the next playing in the American Zone. The opportunity to host the biennial competitions for men and women will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Puerto Rico Golf Association (PRGA).
“Despite a splendid bid from Argentina, Puerto Rico thoroughly deserves its selection,” said Peter Dawson, Joint Secretary of the WAGC. “I am sure it will make a great success of hosting the championships in 2004.”
The world’s golfing nations will convene this month near Berlin, Germany, for the 19th competition for the women’s Espirito Santo Trophy (Aug. 23-26) and the 22nd playing for the men’s Eisenhower Trophy (Aug. 31-Sept. 3). Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, will be the site of the events when they return to the Australasian Zone in 2002.
Each competition covers 72 holes of stroke play, with each nation’s lowest individual scores counting toward the team’s daily total. The United States is the defending champion on the women’s side while Great Britain and Ireland won the men’s title two years ago in Santiago, Chile.
The WAGC was founded in 1958 to encourage the international development of the game and to employ golf as a vehicle to foster friendship and sportsmanship. Recognised by the International Olympic Committee as the international federation for golf, the WAGC comprises the national governing bodies of amateur golf in more than 90 countries.
Although geographically one of the smaller WAGC members, Puerto Rico has a rich golf heritage. It first competed on the WAGC stage in 1966, when its men’s team placed 32nd in Mexico City. Its best finish came two years ago in Chile, when it tied for 18th. The country also played host to the Canada Cup in 1961 and the World Cup in 1994, and has been the site of numerous professional tournaments on the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and Senior PGA Tour.
“We are looking forward to giving back to all the hosts we have visited through the years,” said Sidney Wolf, president of the PRGA. “This is more than just an event to us. It is a way we will utilise the growth of the game here. The essence of the mission statement of the WAGC will be reflected in these championships.”
The game was formally introduced to Puerto Rico in 1930 by a small group of enthusiasts, many of them staff and managers of sugar mills on the island. The number of facilities and players increased during World War II with the development of courses at military installations. All of the courses of that era had sand greens. It was not until the 1950s and’60s that new strains of Bermuda grass could be cultivated in the warm climate. The country now has 18 courses, with nine more in planning or construction stages and expected to open in the next three years.
The most widely recognised player from the nation is Juan (Chi Chi) Rodriguez, who turned professional and joined the PGA Tour in 1960. He captured eight official titles on the regular tour and has won 22 times on the Senior PGA Tour.
“It’s really special for Puerto Rico to have an event of this stature,” Rodriguez said upon hearing the news. “I’m very proud the World Amateur Team Championships will be in my country, and I sure hope I can be there that week. The Puerto Rican people should really turn out to show their support.”
Dates and host courses will be determined by WAGC officials in coming months. The championships are generally played in October.
For more information on the WAGC, contact Stephanie Parel, WAGC assistant deputy secretary, at (908) 234-2300.