Just getting to U.S. Am can cost big dollars

For many golfers, simply getting to University Place for the 110th United States Amateur championship next week will come at a steep price.

How steep?

“Two-thousand for plane tickets and a hotel room,” Stanford University golfer Joseph Bramlett said. “It’s not cheap.”

“Five thousand,” University Place’s Andrew Putnam said, “if you’re bringing in family.”

Josh Anderson, Putnam’s teammate at Pepperdine, couldn’t put an actual number on the tab. He’s also in the field for the week-long tournament at Chambers Bay Golf Links – and co-hosted by The Home Course in DuPont.

“U.S. Ams are always the worst,” Anderson said. “It’s an expensive week. But it’s the week you want to play.”

Because of the size of the tournament – 312 players are in the field, the largest in amateur golf – the United States Golf Association can’t offer some of the hospitality benefits of other smaller events such as the Western Amateur or the Sahalee Players Championship.

“The U.S. Amateur is kind of a straight-up golf tournament,” Putnam said.

The one travel cost the USGA does look to help out with is lodging.

For players staying in hotels, tournament officials have negotiated reduced prices for rooms with area businesses.

For those who don’t mind staying with people they don’t know, the benefit is greater – no-cost living with host families.

“Some players like it,” said Kathleen Pope, the U.S. Amateur championship coordinator from Kemper Sports. “Some players would rather be in a hotel and not be entertained, and kind of on their own.”

When players register online for the tournament, one of the questions golfers answer is if they need help with lodging – for themselves and/or their family and caddies. If a golfer says he wants to stay with a host family, Pope contacts a search committee chairperson, who starts contacting prospective host families.

Host families are responsible for shuttling the golfer to and from the airport, and providing a room and meals for as long as the entrant remains in the tournament.

South Korea’s Jin Jeong, the top-ranked amateur in the world according to Golfweek, says when he travels to the United States for tournaments he always requests a host family for he and his father.

“It really helps, the host family,” Jeong said. “They’re nice people, and you save a lot of money.

“It’s pretty fun, actually – better than staying in a hotel. It’s fun to talk to, and meet new people.”

Fifty-four golfers have asked to stay with host families for next week’s championship. A number of international players like going that route. A couple of high-profile teenagers – Texas’ Jordan Spieth and Alabama’s Bobby Wyatt – are staying with host families, too.

“The cool thing, once the host family meets the player, he becomes that family’s player,” Pope said. “They are out there watching the player, and taking care of the player.”

Todd Milles: 253-597-8442