Although its present history dates only from 1967, the Pacific Coast Amateur Championship's roots make it one of the oldest amateur golf championships in American history.
On April 6, 1901, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, "after many setbacks, the Pacific Coast Golf Association has at last been formed, and before the end of the present month the coast will possess a bona-fide golf champion."
"One of the first steps," the article continued, "was the formation of the Northern California Golf Association, on the lines similar to the Southern California Golf Association, which has been holding tournaments for several seasons." The article went on to say, "These two associations being organized, the next step was to unite and form the big association, whose range it was intended shall be the entire Pacific Slope."
The first tournament was held on the links of San Francisco Golf Club at The Presidio, April 24-27, 1901. Championships were held annually through 1911, all being conducted in California except for the 1909 championship, which was held at Seattle Golf Club in Washington.
The Pacific Coast Amateur then ceased to exist, only to be reconstituted at Seattle Golf Club on August 10-12, 1967. The modern era of the PCGA occurred following a meeting of representatives of several golf associations throughout the western United States at Pebble Beach in November, 1965.
The objective of this meeting was to start a golf championship with the stature that would attract the attention of the USGA and display the ability of amateur golfers in the western United States for possible Walker Cup Team selection. Dr. Ed Updegraff of Tucson, Ariz., was the only western player who had recently participated (1963 and 1965) in the Walker Cup matches.
The Pacific Northwest, Northern California, Southern California, Oregon and Arizona golf associations participated in the inaugural PCA Championship at Seattle Golf Club in 1967. Today, 18 member Pacific Rim golf associations comprise the Pacific Coast Golf Association.
The Morse Cup
The Morse Cup Team competition has been a major portion of the PCA Championship since 1967. Each team consists of three players. From 1967 to 1996, the best two scores each day for the first two rounds were totaled for each team to determine the Morse Cup champion. In the event of a tie, co-champions were recognized. However, the team play ended after 36 holes.
A significant change to the championship's format occurred in 1997. This change made it possible for golf associations throughout the international golf scene to become a part of this storied event. When the 31st annual competition began on July 29, 1997, at Makena Resort's South Course in Maui, Hawaii, the emphasis was on team play and scores were counted from all four rounds. This format change opened the door to include teams of three players representing other national and regional associations, as well as member associations of the PCGA.
In 2002, Trustees of the PCGA voted to return to the tournament's original format, a moved spurred in large part by the fact that the USGA does not recognize results from team competitions in making selections for Walker Cup squads. The Pacific Coast Amateur is now an individual competition with all competitors playing 72 holes without a cut being made. The Morse Cup competition continues to be held in conjunction with the championship, but only PCGA member associations are allowed to have teams.
Among the prominent individual champions are many who have played on Walker Cup teams: Dr. Ed Updegraff, Mike Brannan, Ron Commans, Mark Pfeil, Lindy Miller, John Fought, Mike Gove, Billy Mayfair, David Berganio, Jr., Todd Demsey, Randy Sonnier and Jason Gore.
In 2010, the championship named its perpetual trophy in honor of Ed Updegraff. Read More.