While USGA President Tom O’Toole Jr. was announcing the addition of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open to the Association’s 2018 championship calendar upstairs, several new initiatives were being spotlighted downstairs during the final day of USGA Annual Meeting at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
Among the highlights of the “Serving the Game” exhibit was a display featuring GPS flagstick tracking technology the USGA developed with Spectrum Technologies. Aimed at reducing pace-of-play issues, a flagstick is equipped with a radio antenna, processing and communications unit, and a ferrule sensor that detects when the flagstick is removed from the hole. When a group replaces the flagstick after putting out, the cycle time is recorded and logjams can be more efficiently rectified.
“This enables the course to monitor pace of play in a new way, which is the key to a more efficient operation,” said Hunki Yun, the USGA’s director of strategic projects. “The hope is this will improve the course-customer golf experience everywhere.”
Susan Wasser, assistant director of USGA Museum operations, displayed select pieces from the museum’s “More Than A Game” exhibit, which focuses on the creation of African-American golf clubs during the Jim Crow era and their positive impact on communities across the country. Exhibit items included the original Negro National Open Championship Trophy, the oldest trophy from the United Golfers Association era, and artifacts from Clearview Golf Club, the first golf course designed, owned and operated by an African American. Some of Renee Powell’s mementos were included in the display. The daughter of Bill Powell, who founded Clearview, Renee received the Ike Grainger Award at the Service Awards Dinner later in the evening. The Ike Grainger Award recognizes those who have served the USGA as a volunteer for 25 years or more.
LPGA-USGA Girls Golf, which offers girls ages 7-17 opportunities and exposure to the game, welcomed members of the Big Apple chapter. The girls putted on a makeshift green and gave away backpacks with a hat, ball marker and information packet enclosed.
The USGA’s Rules department showcased its digital resources, which make the Rules of Golf accessible beyond the pages of a bound book. The resources include USGA.org, mobile apps and the Rules of Golf Experience. Set to debut this summer, the Rules of Golf Experience will include quizzes, a learn-at-your-own pace feature and simulations.
Play 9, an initiative focused on encouraging golfers to play more nine-hole rounds, embraced that idea in digital form. Computers were set up allowing people to play a video game version of the ninth hole at Chambers Bay, site of the 2015 U.S. Open.
A resource management station was also set up, detailing the benefits of the USGA Course Consulting Service. Some of the tools USGA agronomists use during site visits to help courses with maintenance-related issues were on display.
This is the first time the USGA has staged an exhibition like this during the Annual Meeting, and the early returns were overwhelmingly positive.
“It showcases what we as an organization are passionate about, which is great to see,” said Greg Ross, the USGA manager of branded and special events. “Having the girls from LPGA-USGA Girls Golf, for example, was especially cool. It’s always good when we can interact with the golf community like this.”
Joey Flyntz is an associate writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.