with two main goals to guide the membership: to uphold the traditions of the game he loved and to host the professional and amateur championships that define excellence in the sport. In all respects, his vision has come true.
Hazeltine National members are ardent volunteers for the game, support a robust caddie program that has produced 39 Evans Scholars, maintain an award-winning junior golf program, play by the Rules of Golf (on which Heffelfinger was an expert), and preserve a culture of walking that has been lost at many other clubs. One member, Reed Mackenzie, followed in Heffelfinger’s footsteps to become president of the USGA.
Each succeeding championship has shown that the golf course is a worthy test, the members and other volunteers set new standards for championship operations, and the golf fans turn out in great numbers. One mark of the success of Heffelfinger’s dream is that you will often hear nonmembers say “we hosted” when they talk about the championships. Hazeltine
National is a private club, but it is Minnesota’s home of championship golf.
It was originally to be called the Executive Golf Club of Minnesota, a name proposed by Robert Trent Jones, who hoped to create similar clubs around the country that would have reciprocal memberships with each other. Such bold thinking was typical of Jones, who in many ways revolutionized the craft of golf architecture and who was always looking for new concepts to exploit. Unfortunately, this one was ahead of its time and no other Executive Clubs were ever built; the club then adopted its new name from Hazeltine Lake (which had been named for an early schoolteacher in the area).
Jones gained fame through his original designs and his alterations of major championship venues like Augusta National and Oakland Hills, the site of Padraig Harrington’s victory in last year’s PGA Championship. His philosophy of “hard par, easy bogey” translated into demanding courses that rewarded strategic play and penalized heroic shots that were not
Above: Described by Johnny Miller as “probably the hardest 4 par (he’s) ever played,” the 16th hole at Hazeltine National features a narrow fairway nestled between Hazeltine Lake to one side and a creek on the other. Below: Tony Jacklin’s 1970 victory at Hazeltine National makes him the last European to win the U.S. Open.