Courtesy of Michael Trostel, Executive Producer of Content for the USGA

Slender_Flagstick1895 to 1913 – If a player filed an entry, he was in the championship proper. No qualifying or exemptions needed.  

1913 to 1921 – To avoid the problems created by large fields at previous U.S. Opens, the USGA split the field and held two days of qualifying rounds onsite at the championship venue immediately before the championship, with the low 32 scorers from each day making the field.

At this time, the format of the U.S. Open was two days of 36-hole competition (72 holes in total). 

The U.S. Open was not played in 1917 or 1918 due to World War I.  

In 1920 and 1921, the USGA reverted back to qualifying rounds and once again held the 72 holes over just two days.

1922 to 1923 – In order to accommodate more than 300 entries, the USGA reinstated qualifying rounds and stretched them over three days immediately before the championship.The defending champion was exempt beginning in 1924.

1924 to 1958 – Because fields continued to grow, the USGA established a system of regional qualifying in 1924.

Starting in 1924, qualifying occurred the week before the championship in two sections of the country (east and west).

This number of qualifying sites continued to expand over the years. By 1926, there were already 17 sectional qualifiers. It reached 35 by 1935.

Starting in 1926, the USGA added several additional exemptions.

  • The low 30 scorers and ties from the previous year’s U.S. Open
  • Members of the 1926 Walker Cup Teams
  • American professionals who competed in the British Open

No championships were held from 1942 to 1946 due to World War II

In 1953, a one-time change was made to the qualifying format. Prior to the championship proper, the entire field of 300 players, except for the defending champion Julius Boros, went through an additional “championship qualifying round” consisting of 36 holes played over two days at Oakmont and the nearby Pittsburgh Field Club. The 149 lowest scorers and ties after 36 holes qualified for the U.S. Open field, including Ben Hogan, who was already a three-time U.S. Open winner, and the eventual 1953 champion.

1959 to present – Local qualifying was instituted, meaning that non-exempt players needed to go through a two-tier qualifying process to earn a spot in the championship.

in 2005, the first sectional qualifiers were held outside the United States, in England and Japan. International qualifying has continued since then with an additional qualifier now held in Canada since 2019.

The Hale America Open 

Hale_Americal_Contestant_BadgeIn June 1942, the USGA co-sponsored an event with the PGA of America and the Chicago District of Golf called the Hale America National Open Golf Tournament.

  • Its purpose was to raise money for the war effort and celebrate “American spirit”
  • All proceeds went to the United Service Organizations and the Navy Relief Society.
  • To draw more spectators, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby were among the 25 golfers who were invited to play and exempt from qualifying.
  • Aside from the 25 exempt players, all other entrants were required to play a 36-hole qualifier and a 54-hole sectional qualifier.
  • Due to a lack of interest, the USGA discussed canceling the event in May, however late entries by Ben Hogan and Bob Jones caused an influx of entries.
  • In the final two weeks, the number of entries increased to 1,528, the largest total for a golf open in American history to that point.

The Miami Valley Golf Association has been hosting a Sectional Qualifier since 2008 
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