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Jun 13, 2018 10:42 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

USGA Reaches Deal With Shinnecock Tribe

Members of the Shinnecock Indian Tribe protested the U.S. Open on Monday. GREG WEHNER
Jun 13, 2018 10:59 AM

The U.S. Golf Association and Shinnecock Indian Nation struck a deal on Monday after months of negotiations to allow the tribe to participate in this year’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club from June 11 to 17.

The USGA and the tribe issued a joint statement on Monday afternoon saying the USGA would honor the Shinnecock heritage by developing a golf facility named for Oscar Bunn, a tribe member who competed in the second U.S. Open in 1896, which was the first Open to be held at Shinnecock Hills.

Craig Annis, the head of communications at USGA, said on Wednesday that the facility, which will be located at an undetermined location on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation, will include a mix of driving bays and chipping and putting areas.

“As a 501(c)(3), one of our objectives is to introduce people of all ages to the game of golf,” Mr. Annis said. “This facility will provide a pathway into the game. Additionally, for those Shinnecock Nation members who already play, the facility will provide a place to hone their game.

“The Shinnecock Nation expressed this opportunity to the USGA, and we were we happy to make it happen in line with our mission,” he added.

The deal came just in the nick of time as tensions were rising leading up to the event. On Monday, tribe members protested along Hill Street, not far from the U.S. Open grounds. In front of them were signs: “Original People of Long Island Dealing With Colonial Chauvinism,” “You’re On Shinnecock Land” and “Shinnecock Hills. Documented Stolen Land. Where Are Our Rights?”

Some members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation had said in May that they would stage a protest at this year’s U.S. Open. They said they were shut out of the event by organizers and could miss out on nearly $200,000 in fees that the tribe has received during past championships by working as vendors and leasing tribal lands to the U.S. Golf Association for visitor parking.

“We sincerely appreciate the USGA’s efforts to work with the Shinnecock Nation with this year’s U.S. Open,” the Shinnecock Nation Tribal Council said in the joint statement. “We are very proud of the history we share and are excited to welcome the championship this week.”

Along with the addition of the Oscar Bunn Golf Center, the tribe is also offering paid parking to fans during the U.S. Open.

The parking is located on the Shinnecock Reservation, and a shuttle will be available to take people back and forth from the parking lot to the tournament. Those wishing to park at the reservation can enter the lots near the Shinnecock Museum on Montauk Highway at West Gate Road. Vehicles will be permitted to enter the lots between 5:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. from Thursday to Sunday, and the shuttles will operate until 9 p.m.

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