Ah, yes, Cypress Point—no Pro-Am week would be complete without some pining for the fabled Alister MacKenzie masterpiece, which last hosted the tournament 20 years ago. Aggressively private, Cypress dropped out of sight in the wake of the Shoal Creek controversy, which brought a Tour mandate that its host clubs have diverse memberships. As one Cypress member recounted last week, "At the time we tried to explain that we have a process here for membership, and that there was a seven-year waiting list. We were not going to subvert all of that and shove someone in just to appease the Tour. The media really clobbered Cypress, and it was a very unattractive period in the club's history. The great irony, of course, is that the club has always been a very egalitarian place." With a laugh, he added, "Irrespective of income."
Cypress Point was cofounded by Marion Hollins, a decorated women's amateur champion who captained the inaugural U.S. Curtis Cup team in 1932. The club enjoys a long tradition of female members and currently has about a dozen. There is also a mix of African-American and Asian-American members. It is a measure of Cypress's relatively progressive outlook that Condoleezza Rice was recently nominated for membership.
With its membership demographics now a nonissue, there have been rumblings that Cypress may consider reopening its doors to the wider golf world. Last year a USGA committee member played in Cypress Point's member-guest and afterward sought out Mike Davis, the USGA's senior director of rules and competitions. Recalls Davis, "They said to me, 'Would the USGA ever be interested in hosting something at Cypress?' There had clearly been some talk about it out there. I chuckled and said, 'In a Minnesota minute.'"
While Monterey Peninsula and Pebble Beach have made numerous changes to continue to challenge the game's best players, Cypress has steadfastly—some would say heroically—refused to touch its timeless 6,509-yard layout. There is a feeling among much of the membership that by not supersizing MacKenzie's original design, Cypress has become a living, breathing monument to how much modern equipment has affected the game. On the subject of retrofitting Cypress, Tom Fazio, who has overseen the lengthening of Pine Valley and Merion, says, "There have been some discussions, but nothing official. Defiance is too strong a word, but Cypress is a unique place, and change is not a priority."
There is another hurdle to trying to host a large-scale tournament at Cypress. The club spent the late-'90s restoring the gorgeous dunes that frame so many holes, leading Davis to wonder, "How do you rope and stake it? You don't want the gallery walking across the dunes. You'd do the least amount of damage to the property having the gallery walk down the fairway, like they do at the Curtis Cup."
Come to think of it, Cypress is the perfect length to test the top women's amateurs. And hosting a Curtis Cup would be a nice tip of the cap to Hollins as well as a pointed display of Cypress Point's open-mindedness.
The next available date for the Curtis Cup is 2014, when the biennial match is due to be played in the U.S. A long shot? Maybe. But when the sun is shining in Pebble Beach, as it was for last week's Pro-Am, it's easy to dream. The courses are so good and so pretty, they don't serve merely as tournament backdrops. They elevate the entire sport.
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