U.S. JUNIOR AMATEUR
USGA Championship Competitors Get the Hole Picture July 18, 2017 | Andover, Kan. By Joey Flyntz, USGA

Cole Hammer, who is competing in his third U.S. Junior Amateur, says the new USGA hole-location sheets are a major improvement. (USGA/Jeff Haynes)

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In March, the USGA launched Resource Management at the North American Golf Innovation Symposium in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. A cloud-based solution designed to help facility managers to better understand resource consumption at their facilities, Resource Management is also being used internally at USGA championships to help set up hole locations and communicate them to competitors.

While setting hole locations is largely a product of experience, strategy and feel, Resource Management provides additional agronomic and weather information to assist in the process. This has a trickle-down effect to the players, such as those in this week’s U.S Junior Amateur Championship at Flint Hills National Golf Club.

While competitors in the USGA’s Open championships have received more detailed hole-location sheets for several years, players in the USGA’s amateur events had received sheets in which every green was represented by a circle, regardless of shape or size, and the only information available to players was the distance of the hole from the front of the green and from the left or right edge.

This year, all USGA championship competitors will receive the detailed sheets, which now include an exact geometrical layout of the green with all the surrounds, including bunkers and water hazards. Additionally, the sheet shows exactly where the hole is located on the green, supplementing the distances from the front and edge.

“We want to provide the same exemplary experience across all of our championships,” said Scott Mingay, the USGA’s manager of product development in the Research, Science & Innovation department. “So, whether you're at the Junior Amateur or the U.S. Open as a player or staff member, you get the same experience.”

One player who can speak to the improvement is Cole Hammer, 17, of Houston, Texas. Playing in his sixth USGA championship, Hammer became somewhat of a media sensation two years ago when he qualified for the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. He has also competed in the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball.

A look at the hole-location sheets players received on Tuesday at the U.S. Junior Amateur.

“I noticed the difference. It's good, I like it,” said Hammer, who opened with a 3-under-par 68 Monday at Flint Hills. “We've got these yardage books that have the green depth every 5 yards. Being able to see where exactly the flag is, to a degree, is great. This is definitely an improvement.”

The USGA seeks to set the gold standard for competitions, and for Greg Sanfilippo, the director of the U.S. Junior Amateur, the Resource Management tool is another step toward fulfilling that ambition.

“Our goal is to conduct the most exemplary test in junior golf,” said Sanfilippo. “This tool elevates the look and feel of the championship, providing a more advanced look at hole locations for the players compared to what was used previously.”

While players will benefit immediately from the output of Resource Management, the back-end functionality and accrued data from continued use will help the USGA – and other tournament officials – to perform their tasks more efficiently.

“The real power of this tool will be realized in years to come as the USGA staff at championships are able to view predictive analytics based on historical data,” said Mingay. “In one platform, the user can view course setup information, golfer behavior, green speed, firmness and weather.”

The USGA also has begun working with the industry to develop additional functionalities for the application and encourage innovations built on this platform. The ongoing development and refinement of Resource Management reflect the USGA’s commitment to advance the game by making the benefits of science and technology available to all facilities. These advancements will help to elevate the golfer experience and improve productivity at 35,000 golf courses around the world.

Joey Flyntz is an associate writer for the USGA. Email him at jflyntz@usga.org.

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