The waiting game continues for fans longing to watch live golf, the PGA Tour still almost two months away (if everything breaks right) from restarting its 2020 season. If you’re a true golf junkie, you joined us earlier this month in watching the final rounds of 23 straight Masters tournaments, thus exhausting Augusta National’s YouTube channel as a viable alternative. But fear not. There remains a treasure trove of vintage golf content ready for binge watching whenever you are.
Last May, the USGA launched an over-the-top digital streaming app that could be accessed on Apple TV and Roku, and provided any number of old broadcasts, films and highlights from USGA events. The video-on-demand service includes more than 100 hours of historic final rounds of the U.S. Open (including every one from 1972 to 2019) and more than 50 hours from the U.S. Women’s Open. Additionally, the service offers several original films, including “U.S. Open Epic: Tiger and Rocco,” “1962 U.S. Open: Jack’s First Major” and “Michelle Wie: Breakthrough at Pinehurst” complemented by documentaries chronicling legends such as Jack Nicklaus, Se Ri Pak, Tiger Woods and Payne Stewart.
Since March, when the coronavirus forced golf fans to seek substitute golf events for their viewing pleasure, the USGA has added more than 40 hours of new footage and expanded to offer its app on Amazon Fire TV. Among the new content, is the final round from the when Winged Foot hosted the U.S. Open in 1974 (Hale Irwin win’s the “massacre” with a seven-over total) and the final round and playoff from Winged Foot in 1984, Fuzzy Zoeller taking down Greg Norman.
“We know golf fans are hungry for content and we want to serve them,” said Navin Singh, chief commercial officer of the USGA.
In addition to the professional events, there are a handful of old amateur offerings available. Tiger Woods fans can watch him win his three U.S. Amateur titles from 1994-’96 among the more than 25 hours of U.S. Am content. And there’s a very cool original newsreel recapping Arnold Palmer’s 1954 U.S. Amateur win.
But the true hidden gem on the USGA app is something recently added: the final day broadcast of the 2007 Walker Cup from Royal Country Down in Northern Ireland. That year’s match has developed mythical status among the amateur golf cognoscenti, given the big name players who were competing for the U.S. and Great Britain & Ireland in the event and the way the final day played out.
Wearing red, white and blue were several future PGA Tour pros: Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Webb Simpson, Billy Horschel, Kyle Stanley, Chris Kirk, Jaime Lovemark and Colt Knost. Playing for the GB&I was Danny Willett and a moppy-haired 18-year-old making his amateur swansong in his native Northern Ireland.
Wonder whatever happened to this guy?
To see Rory McIlroy along with so many of these now veteran tour players before they were truly stars—on arguably the most beautiful golf course in the world—is binge watching at its finest. We won’t give the ending away (we’ll let the Google machine do that for you), but suffice to say it comes down to the wire.
I had the good fortune of covering the event in person; here’s my game story to prove it (like Rory, I had a lot more hair back then). It was particularly cool then to relive that electric final day, which I surprisingly remembered more of than I thought I would. Mind you, the scene on the final green was a celebration that’s hard to forget.