Barclay Douglas, Jr. interview

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President, Newport Country Club, host of this week's US Senior Open
Posted on
June 27, 2024
by
M. James Ward in
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

When the history of United States golf is outlined, the storyline with Newport Country Club occupies a central emphasis point.

In 1895, the club served as host site for the inaugural US Open and US Amateur in 1895. The club is also one of the five founding members of the United States Golf Association (USGA).

This week's US Senior Open is the 5th USGA Championship played at the club.

The other two USGA events include the 1995 US Amateur Championship when Tiger Woods claimed the second of three consecutive wins in defeating George "Buddy" Marucci 2-up.

In 2006 the US Women's Open was played with Annika Sörenstam securing her third title in a playoff against Pat Hurst.

The nines are reversed for this week's Senior Open so that the holes closest to the Atlantic Ocean will feature a more prominent role.

The defending champion is Bernhard Langer.

The Douglas Story

I started playing golf when I was about 12 years old. After watching the Bob Hope tournament with my father, I asked him if I could play golf. I recall playing until dusk and my father had to come to pick me up.

To his chagrin, I would be on the 17th, playing 2 balls and totally oblivious that my father was waiting. I was hooked on golf. I never looked back at tennis.

I recall volunteering to help the club to the vice president of the club when I was in my late 20s. The next year, I was on the board of governors where I remained silent until I was asked.

I have golf in my blood. My paternal grandfather was a founding member of Seminole and my great uncle was president of Shinnecock.

Barclay Douglas, Jr.

***

What prompted Newport to put in a request to host the US Senior Open?

Since having the Amateur and Open in 1895, the Amateur in 1995, and the Women's Open in 2006, I thought it would be fitting to fill out the resume in the Senior Open. I did not know there was going to be a Senior Women's Open.

 

When someone comes to the property for the first time what elements of note do you believe they will see?

There are several elements when someone arrives at Newport CC for the first time. First, is the clubhouse. The clubhouse is of the Beaux Arts style.

It was built as a clubhouse and not a home and then converted to a clubhouse. It was totally renovated/restored in 2004-2006.

The clubhouse at Newport Country Club, host of this week's US Senior Open
The Clubhouse (USGA/Fred Vuich)

What is the expected capacity on the grounds for the championship?

I believe the USGA wants to have between 10,000 and 12,000. This will include everyone, spectators, and all of the support staff.

 

What was the most recent work done on the course and what architect was engaged to do it?

Recently, there were three bunkers done. On the 7th, the first left fairway bunker was reworked. It was extended out east towards the green. On the championship 9th, an additional fairway bunker was added to the left-hand side of the fairway.

On the 14th and 15th, a new bunker was installed that reached between these holes. This new bunker is on the right-hand side of both holes. All of these designs were done internally.

The 7th hole of Newport Country Club
The 7th hole will play as the 16th during the event (USGA/Fred Vuich)

Two key holes on the front nine are what?

Championship 5 and 6. The 5th is a par-3 – about 205 yards. This hole can be called a redan. It will be played into the prevailing wind. The 6th is a par-4 dog-leg right playing at 460+ yards. The hole is slightly uphill and plays into the prevailing wind. The green is also quite small.

Two key holes on the back nine are what?

Championship 15 and 18. The 15th is a long straight par-4 playing into the wind. The green is one of the most undulating at Newport. The USGA may use the upper tee if the wind is too stiff. The 18th is a long par-4 – 470+ yards playing downwind. There is a cross bunker 240 yards to carry. The second shot is uphill.

Newport served as host for the first US Open – is a return possible in the 21st century?

With the ball travelling so far due to equipment and players' conditioning, it would be difficult to see the Open returning to Newport. Plus, support areas are limited.

The 4th hole at Newport Country Club, host of this week's US Senior Open
The 4th hole will play as the 13th during the event (USGA/Fred Vuich)

Logistics are a most important item at any key golf event. Given Newport's isolated location, how smoothly do you anticipate matters being handled for both players and spectators?

The USGA has done a tremendous job coordinating logistics. Transportation plans received compliments from various members of the city council. Newport holds a lot of events. Sailing, music festivals, tennis events, road races and antique car shows, as well as daily tourists. Newport is capable and does a good job with large numbers.

If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally – what would it be and why?

Golf is a wonderful game. It is a game for everyone at any age. There is really nothing I would change to the game.

The 13th hole
The 13th hole will play as the 4th hole during the event. (USGA/Fred Vuich)

What would you think the Newport founders would say on how things have evolved since the club's start over a hundred years ago?

Theodore A. Havemeyer was the first president of Newport CC and the USGA. He was the driving force back then. He had the connections and the money. He donated the first Amateur trophy in 1895. When he died in 1897, the club fell back.

The club was approached to hold either the Amateur or Open in 1920, but the club turned it down. I feel Havemeyer would be pleased that the USGA is again holding a national championship at Newport. It is wonderful to see the USGA wants to come to Newport. Newport has history and comes up to show its stuff to the world. I feel the world will be pleased.

***

For more info go to:

Our History - Newport Country Club

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About M. James Ward

A GWAA and MGWA member, the 66-year-old from the USA has covered golf in all facets since 1980, notably the major championships and other high level events. He has played over 2,000 courses globally and has competed in USGA Championships.

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