Far Hills, N.J. (June 3) – Following more than three years of renovation, expansion and new construction, the United States Golf Association Museum celebrated the grand opening of the USGA Museum and the Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History on Tuesday.
"The USGA Museum and the new Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History are great homes for the enduring history of golf in the United States," said USGA President Jim Vernon. "We are proud to celebrate our national champions and the place they hold in the fabric of American golf. We encourage all those who love golf to visit."
The USGA Museum and the Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History are located at the USGA headquarters in Far Hills, the site of today's grand opening ceremony. The event was emceed by 17-time LPGA tournament champion Dottie Pepper and included speeches by USGA executive committee member Cameron Jay Rains, USGA museum director Rand Jerris, seven-time USGA champion Carol Semple Thompson, USGA President Jim Vernon and Palmer. The state of New Jersey honored the day's ceremony with Nancy Byrne, executive director of the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism, recognizing June 3, 2008, as "Arnold Palmer Day."
"I am confident that the Museum and Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History will be true assets to the tourism industry in the state, drawing even more visitors to New Jersey who are interested in experiencing a taste of the sport's enduring history," said Byrne.
The original USGA Museum building, dating from 1919, has been modernized and enlarged and now features the Ben Hogan Room, the Bob Jones Room and the new Arnold Palmer Room.
The expansion encompasses the new 16,000-square-foot Palmer Center, comprising more than 5,000 square feet of public exhibition galleries, a research room to facilitate access to the collections and state-of-the-art storage areas that provide the proper climate and security for the long-term care of historical artifacts.
The Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History was so named to honor the enduring connection that Arnold Palmer represents between golf and the people who play and love the game. Never before has a USGA building been dedicated to a single individual.
The Palmer Center houses a collection of the nation's most significant golf artifacts and documents, including hundreds of items never before displayed by the USGA. In all, the exhibitions showcase more than 2,000 artifacts, twice the number displayed previously.
While the Museum was closed, the staff closely examined each collection and selected artifacts that best tell the USGA story. As a result, every part of the collection is represented. Historical documents, books, scrapbooks, photographs, film footage, clothing, clubs, balls, cigarette cards, posters, medals and trophies are integrated into the new displays.
Throughout the galleries, highlights from the Museum's world-class collection are featured, including the clubs used by Francis Ouimet in the 1913 U.S. Open; Bob Jones's famous putter, Calamity Jane II; Ben Hogan's 1-iron from the 1950 U.S. Open; and artifacts from Tiger Woods, Payne Stewart, Annika Sorenstam and many other stars of today's game.
The new exhibitions in the Palmer Center present golf history and USGA championship history in the context of American social, cultural and political history. Moreover, the permanent galleries feature six iconic moments that are pivotal to the development of golf in America. These moments include:
* Francis Ouimet's historic victory in the 1913 U.S. Open
* Bob Jones's Grand Slam in 1930
* The Great Depression and the democratization of golf
* The heroic comebacks of Ben Hogan in the 1950 U.S. Open and Babe Didrikson Zaharias in the 1954 U.S. Women's Open
* The rivalry between Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus in the 1960 and 1962 U.S. Opens
* Tiger Woods, the 2000 U.S. Open, and the emergence of a global game
The Hall of Champions celebrates every USGA champion and championship. The rotunda, illuminated by a clerestory, houses all 13 USGA championship trophies, while the name of each champion is inscribed on bronze panels that encircle the hall.
The visitor experience is enhanced by a series of video presentations and interactive databases, including:
* A seven-minute introductory film about USGA championships that explores the significance and challenge of the game as it is played at its highest level
* Video presentations that present the iconic moments in greater detail and place them in their proper historical context
* A new Championship Database that includes records, summaries, and photographs from every USGA championship, searchable by player, host site and date
* Interactive "Video Jukeboxes" that present video clips of Bob Jones and Arnold Palmer
* Arnold Palmer Portrait Interactive, featuring "Gratitude," a unique portrait by California artist James David Chase that comprises more than 22,000 words said by or about Arnold Palmer
In the Museum's new Research Center, visitors can view, study, and examine artifacts, documents, and memorabilia from the collections in one area. These collections include a library, photographic collection, film and video collection, and a museum collection.
Visitors will soon be able to engage in an entertaining, participatory golf experience on a
large putting green located behind the Museum. The putting green, inspired by the
Himalayas putting course at St. Andrews, allows visitors to putt with replica antique
clubs and balls, as well as modern equipment. Like the Himalayas at St. Andrews, this
16,000-square-foot green includes sizeable humps and swales, designed to make the experience challenging, entertaining and educational.
The Putting Course is scheduled to open in September 2008. Thereafter, it will be open during Museum hours from early April to late October.
The Museum and Palmer Center will be open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The facility will be closed on Mondays and major holidays. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for USGA Members, $5 as a group rate for 10 or more, $3.50 for children ages 13-17, and free for children 12 and under.
The USGA Museum is an educational institution dedicated to fostering an appreciation
for the game of golf, its participants, and the Association. By collecting, preserving and
interpreting the historical developments of the game in the United States, with an
emphasis on the Association and its championships, the Museum promotes a greater
understanding of golf's cultural significance for a world-wide audience.
Architect: Farewell Mills Gatsch, Princeton, N.J.
Exhibit Designer: Gallagher & Associates, Bethesda, Md.
Exhibit Fabricator: 1220 Exhibits, Nashville, Tenn.
A/V Design and Production: Monadnock Media, Sunderland, Mass.
Contractor: The Gale Construction Company, Roseland, N.J.
Owner's Representative: Zubatkin Owner Representation, New York, N.Y.