What Is the 'Publinx' in Golf?

"Publinx" is a word that serves as a short-hand way of referring to a "public links championship" golf tournament. Publinx comes from the combination of "public" and "links." But that leads to the follow-up question: what is a public links tournament?

The best-known public links championships are (or were, rather, since they are no longer played) the two United States Golf Association publinx events — one for men and one for women. The USGA ran the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship (for men) from 1922 through 2014; and the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship from 1977 through 2014.

The key to understanding those tournaments is the "public" part of "public links." Golf arose in America as a game for the wealthy, who formed private clubs that kept out anyone who didn't have the money to join. Public golf, meaning golf open to everyone, regardless of wealth or social status, was a rarity in the early history of golf in the United States (and most other locations, too). And the USGA's own U.S. Amateur championships were open, in the first half of their histories, only to golfers who belonged to a USGA-recognized club.

The USGA launched the first Publinx, the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, in 1922 as a way of both providing a championship specifically for those golfers who weren't eligible for other championships because they did not belong to a club; and as a way of promoting public golf — of promoting a more accessible image for golf and golf courses.

The term "Publinx" originated mostly in newspapers, where headline writers liked the shorthand. "Public links" was also used as shorthand for the tournament name, as was "Publinks." But "Publinx," both written and spoken, became the unofficial shorthand of the tournament's name.

It wasn't until 1977 that women got their own version of the Publinx. Both the men's and women's tournaments were open only to amateur golfers who did not belong to a private golf club. Many state golf associations (and even local golf associations) also launched their own public links championships.

The USGA Publinx championships were discontinued, however, after 2014. The USGA decided to add new four-ball championships for men and women, and got rid of its two Publinx championships to make room on the schedule. Some state golf associations, however, continue holding their own Publinx championships.

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