Pennsylvania may use taxpayer dollars for major golf events
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania officials have held out the potential for taxpayer-paid subsidies to help entice the U.S. Golf Association to bring more Opens and elite amateur events to two courses in the state, a news organization reported.
The USGA last week announced that it will bring nine more Opens for men and women to Oakmont and Merion over the next three decades, an announcement lauded by top state lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration.
Both clubs also were awarded some of the USGA’s elite amateur events.
Wolf’s administration described the USGA’s announcement as a “new partnership” with the state.
Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, told PennLive that the state’s financial commitment “is more of a handshake right now.”
“There’s no commitment of dollars or contracts, or anything like that,” Corman told the news organization. “But, now that the USGA has agreed and has committed to putting on all these types of events here in Pennsylvania ... we as a commonwealth have said, ‘Look, we want to step up and be part of this,’ because obviously there’s tremendous amount of economic activity that comes when you bring hundreds of thousands of people to one site.”
Corman said state officials will assess how the state can help with funding when the USGA comes with requests for financial assistance.
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, said conversations with USGA officials before last week’s announcement were not necessarily about financial assistance, but more broadly about the state’s willingness to support the events, where appropriate, and help make them happen.
In any case, any funding for such an event would need to be approved by the Legislature, Wolf’s administration said.
John Bodenhamer, USGA’s senior managing director for championships, told PennLive that one of its requests could be for money to build a new bridge over the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Oakmont. The suburban Pittsburgh course is bisected by the highway, with 11 holes on one side and seven on the other.
It also might seek money to build permanent foundations for the temporary spectator grandstands that are erected during major tournaments, Bodenhamer said.
Last week’s U.S. Amateur at Oakmont was the 88th USGA championship in Pennsylvania, the most of any state. Pennsylvania courses have hosted the U.S. Open 17 times, second to New York’s 20.