Grant Griffiths is registered to play in the U.S. Open qualifiers on May 13. This is the journey he will be taking to get there.
Every year, the USGA stages qualifying events at more than 100 locations in the United States, plus a few international locations. The qualifying process is this:
Enter a local qualifier.
If you finish high enough, advance to a sectional qualifier.
If you finish high enough, advance into the U.S. Open.
Easy-peasy! Okay, not really easy, just simple to understand.
In 2016, local qualifiers were scheduled at 111 locations, all of them in the United States, in early to mid-May. Local qualifiers are 18 holes in length, played at stroke play. The number of golfers advancing out of each local qualifier is determined by field size; in 2016, a total of 525 golfers advanced out of local qualifying and into sectional qualifying.
The field at a local qualifier includes many club professionals, many highly skilled amateur golfers, and even some golfers with pro tour experience -- perhaps even some current or recent PGA Tour pros whose status or recent accomplishments in pro golf do not allow them to skip the local qualifying stage.
Golfers who advance out of a local qualifying move on to the sectional qualifiers, where they are also joined by golfers who were exempt from local qualifying. Sectional qualifiers are 36 holes (played in one day) of stroke play. In 2016, 12 sectional qualifiers were scheduled in the United States, plus one in Japan and another in England. The international sites played in late May; the domestic tournaments played in early June.
The field at a sectional qualifier may include many current PGA Tour golfers, even some major championship winners, along with touring professionals from other pro golf tours.
Those who make it through sectional qualifying join the final field for the U.S. Open, along with all the golfers who were exempt from any qualifying (a total of 156).