MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
What Say You? The Polls That Had Members Talking December 17, 2015 | FAR HILLS, N.J. By David Chmiel

Members use the onsite Clubhouse at the U.S. Open to offer their opinions in person. (Courtesy Managed Digital)

In the Member Clubhouse, we give you the chance to sound off on a variety of topics. In the more than 40 polls that we posted in 2015, you share your views with complete candor. We took a look at a year’s worth of responses and here is what we know for sure:

You were concerned about Tiger and rooted unabashedly for Jordan Spieth to round the bases of golf’s grand slam. You don’t like “sandbaggers” or the stroke-and-distance rule. You – like most of us – dream of a two-week golf vacation in Ireland and Scotland. Tee it up with Carl Spackler? Yes, please. Judge Smails? Not so much. Take a look back as we revisit nine of the most popular polls:

The U.S. Amateur mixes stroke play and match play. Sean Crocker found inspiration in match play. How about you? (USGA/John Mummert)

1 The U.S. Amateur, like most USGA championships, combines stroke and match play. Which is your favorite? (Oct. 29)

A majority of Members (53 percent) prefer to mix it up when it comes to playing formats. Among those falling into the either/or category, 29 percent of you would rather count every shot in stroke play, while 18 percent prefer match play so a blow-up hole or two wouldn’t ruin the day.

 

 

 

Pebble Beach was particularly challenging for the 1972 U.S. Open. Jack Nicklaus won with a 72-hole score of +2 (290) for the championship. (Courtesy USGA)

Which one of Jack Nicklaus’ U.S. Open championships was your favorite? (Jan. 15) 

Take the Golden Bear and Pebble Beach, two of golf’s greatest natural treasures, add in arguably the most spectacular 1-iron ever struck and the 1972 U.S. Open is your resounding win at 43 percent. His epic 1962 duel with Arnold Palmer drew 30 percent of the vote. The “Jack Is Back” battle with Isao Aoki at Baltusrol in 1980 drew 24 percent, while his first Baltusrol win in 1967 came in fourth.

 

 

 

If you belong to the Fred Meyer nine-hole golf league, you'd better be prepared to have some fun. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

Why do you play nine holes? (July 21)

More than 83 percent of you responded that you play in a nine-hole league, play nine when you don’t have time for 18 holes and enjoy casual rounds with friends and family. For the 17 percent of you who focus only on playing 18… all we are saying, is give nine a chance.

 

 

 

 

It is especially galling for Members to find themselves just barely on the wrong side of an OB stake. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

4 Which Rule do you and your friends most debate? (Oct. 29)

Coming in with 39 percent of the vote, reloading from your original position when your ball winds up on the wrong side of the white stakes is your biggest Rules gripe. A vocal 22 percent would like to fix spike marks on the green, while 19 percent want to spend more than five minutes looking for a lost ball – sorry, but that last option won’t help us improve pace of play!. Remember to check on the 2016 Rules of Golf to avoid any other infractions. 

 

 

 

Nobody minded when a 2003 U.S. Women's Amateur rain delay involved watching a screening of 'Caddyshack.' (USGA/John Mummert)

“Caddyshack” is celebrating its 35th anniversary. Who would you most like to play golf with? (July 30)

For the 43 percent of you who want to play with Bill Murray’s Carl Spackler, your day would likely involve more than a few Cinderella stories. Chevy Chase’s Ty Webb and Rodney Dangerfield’s Al Czervik were in a near-dead heat at 19 and 18 percent, respectively. For our money, the smartest Members were the 13 percent who couldn’t pick just one. Filling out a foursome with all three characters from this irreverent classic film would make for an unforgettable round, even if there were no explosions…

 

 

 

Members get mighty upset when they think there is a 'sandbagger' in their midst. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

Which part of the USGA Handicap System do you and your friends debate the most? (Nov. 13)

When you spend an afternoon giving 12 strokes to a fella on his way to a smooth 75, it’s hard to stomach. That’s why 53 percent of you target “sandbaggers” as your pet peeve among handicap issues. Calculating Course Handicaps when playing from different tees is a pain for 23 percent of you, while 13 percent take exception with the way strokes are allotted. Another 7 percent are looking for more strokes in tournaments. Click here to review changes to the handicap system for 2016.

 

 

 

A majority of USGA Members predicted a U.S. Open victory for Jordan Spieth, months before he hoisted the trophy. (USGA/Fred Vuich)

Will Jordan Spieth win the U.S. Open? (April 14)

Right after Spieth tied Tiger Woods’ 18-under 270 scoring record for a four-shot victory over Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose at the 2015 Masters, we asked you to handicap his chances to claim a second straight major at Chambers Bay. Since it was only April, 30 percent of you suggested that we let him enjoy the moment. But 54 percent of you jumped right on the Texan’s bandwagon. Another 16 percent took the field, only to watch Spieth claim the trophy.

 

 

 

Royal County Down is a dream destination for golfers from all over the world. (USGA/John Mummert)

What is your dream golf trip? (Feb. 9)

Most of us dream of putting our clubs in the “boot” of the rental car and driving on the wrong side of the road to experience golf’s ancient roots. For 53 percent of you, Royal County Down, North Berwick, Lahinch, Dornoch Bay, Macrihanish, The Old Course – and hundreds of other spectacular options make “two weeks in Scotland and Ireland” the leader in the clubhouse. The grinders among you (20 percent) opted for a week of work with a top instructor, while 16 percent preferred a week of golf and pampering at a swank resort.

 

 

USGA Members say they are happy to play with anyone who loves the game as much as they do. (USGA/Steve Gibbons)

Who do you usually play golf with? (Feb. 23)

“I will play with anyone” was your overwhelming choice, with 64 percent of Members ready to tee it up anytime, anywhere. “Family and friends” claimed second, with 22 percent of the vote. “My regular group” collected 13 percent, with 1 percent only playing “business golf.” Clearly, one of the things to love about golf is sharing it with others who feel the same. 

Throughout 2016, we will give you more opportunities to share your views. In the meantime, feel free to sound off anytime by contacting David Chmiel at dchmiel@usga.org.