USGA to Honor Palmer with Golf History Center


USGAFAR HILLS, N.J. -- The United States Golf Association plans to renovate and expand its museum and archives facility in Bernards Township, N.J., to feature a new golf history center named in honor of three-time USGA champion Arnold Palmer, who has served as the national chairman of the Association's Members Program since its inception in 1975.
Scheduled to open in 2008, the 'Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History' will consist of a 22,000-square-foot addition to the existing museum building. It will house championship collections and showcase the 13 national championship trophies. The current museum building, to which the Palmer Center will be connected, will close for renovations at the end of March 2005.
'I am thrilled to be forever associated with the USGA, an organization I have held dear for nearly all of my life,' said Palmer, who was the first to win a U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open and a U.S. Senior Open. 'I am honored and humbled, and I feel like I've just won the U.S. Open again.'
'I can't think of a more fitting tribute to the man who has meant so much to the game of golf,' said Fred Ridley, USGA President. 'His play, conduct and influence have reflected the positive aspects of this game for a generation. He has done it all with a gracious manner that has made him the game's most eloquent diplomat. We want Arnold Palmer to know that this organization and its more than 700,000 Members nationwide will always be Arnie's Army.'
Palmer won the U.S. Amateur in 1954, the U.S. Open in 1960 and the U.S. Senior Open in 1981. But it was his first USGA title that Palmer has maintained was the 'most important win of my career. It gave me the confidence to go on and become a professional golfer.'
Palmer received the USGA's Bob Jones Award in 1971 in recognition of his distinguished sportsmanship. Four years later, Palmer enrolled then-President Gerald Ford as the first USGA Member at a White House ceremony. Thirty years later, Palmer remains the only individual to serve as chairman of the USGA Members program.
The museum project was approved by the USGA Executive Committee at the Association's 2005 Annual Meeting held in February in Santa Barbara, Calif. Planning and design for the new facility is ongoing, with groundbreaking on the Palmer Center set for the fall of 2006. The total cost of the project, which will be underwritten by the Association, is budgeted at more than $16 million.
The USGA has retained several nationally recognized partners to assist with the project. They include: Farewell Mills Gatsch Architects, LLC of Princeton, N.J.; Gallagher & Associates of Bethesda, Md., as the exhibition designers; and Zubatkin, Owner Representation, LLC of Somers, N.Y., as project managers.
The new Palmer Center will be attached to the existing museum structure, an early 20th century landmark designed by John Russell Pope. Pope designed many important private residences as well as notable landmarks in the nation's capital, such as the National Archives Building and the Jefferson Memorial. Once renovated, the existing museum space will house offices, meeting rooms and exhibition galleries, including a new Arnold Palmer room, and will continue to serve as the main entrance for museum visitors.
Design elements of the new Palmer Center include a sky-lit rotunda with special lighting, a 5,000-square-foot exhibition gallery to highlight USGA championship history, and 5,000 square feet of archival storage space for the Association's extensive collections of artifacts, books, photographs and films. The facility also will contain a research room where researchers may study materials from the USGA's premier historical collection.
The USGA has been located in Bernards Township, N.J., since 1972. Other buildings at the USGA's headquarters, known as Golf House, are an Administration Building and the USGA Research and Test Center, where the Association carries out testing of golf equipment to assure compliance with the Rules of Golf and maintain the element of skill in the game.
Founded in 1935, the USGA Museum and Archives is the oldest museum in the country dedicated to sports.
Golf's governing body in the United States and Mexico, the USGA also works closely with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland, to produce a uniform code of Rules of Golf that are observed worldwide.
The organization's most visible role, however, is played out each season in conducting 13 national championships, including the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open, and U.S. Senior Open. The other 10 national championships are exclusively for amateurs, and include the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Women's Amateur. Nearly 40,000 golfers entered USGA championships during 2004.