2014 USGA ANNUAL MEETING
JOE GOODE: Good morning, everybody. I'm Joe Goode,
managing director of communications for the United States Golf Association, and
we'd all like to welcome you to Pinehurst Resort and Country Club for the 2014
USGA Annual Meeting and this morning's news conference.
I would particularly like to thank
Pinehurst president and COO, Tom Pashley ‑‑ Tom is in the front here ‑‑
and his team for their hospitality and support this week and the wonderful
partnership that I know we will enjoy in June when we're back here for the
back-to-back U. S. Open and U. S. Women's Open championships. So thanks, Tom.
We're pleased to be joined by
several members of the USGA leadership team for this morning's
proceedings. Executive Director Mike
Davis, who will speak to the excitement and preparations that we're making for
the historic back‑to‑back championships.
Joining Mike here in the front row is Reg Jones, U.S. Open Championship senior director, who
oversees the operational planning for our national competitions.
But first it is my honor and
privilege to introduce you to Thomas J. O'Toole Jr. , who will be installed
this evening as the 63rd president of the USGA.
Tom's rise at the 119-year-old
organization is no surprise to anyone who has watched his quarter century of
volunteer service to this organization and his genuine love for this game. He's been associated with the USGA since 1988
serving as a rules official at more than 150 USGA championships, including
every U. S. Open since 1990. Since 2004
Tom has been a member of the Rules of Golf Committee and is entering his
seventh year as a member of the USGA Executive Committee, three of which he has
served as vice president.
Throughout this time Tom has
continued to pursue improvements to the USGA's diverse service functions as
chairman of the championship and compensation committees and through service on
the audit, commercial, handicap, international team selection, management,
rules of golf and joint rules of golf committees. Unarguably, Tom is uniquely experienced and
well prepared for a most important role in a game he has spent a lifetime
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome
Tom O'Toole, Jr.
TOM O'TOOLE JR. : Thank you,
Joe. Good morning, everybody. Thank you for taking time to come out here
and visit with Mike and I about the state of the United States Golf
First of all, let me commend all of
you for your efforts, not only previously, but going forward for all you do to
cover not only the USGA but the game.
Joe, thank you for those kind
remarks. I want this group to know, and
hopefully I can communicate this this evening, that I am honored and humbled to
have the opportunity to find myself as the 63rd president of the
USGA. I'm excited about the
opportunities and where the USGA is headed, and I can tell you that the USGA
Executive Committee is a group of 15 men and women in a general council, who
many of them are in this room here this morning, I can tell you are more
aligned than I've ever seen in my time with the USGA. So this group is energized; they're excited,
and I'm humbled to have the opportunity to lead them with Mike Davis.
This effort on behalf of our
executive committee and staff, I want you to know, will be one of great
collaboration. There's great respect and
honor for each other, and we want to make sure that as we take on this very
important stewardship to govern this game and impact this game's health, that
we do that in such a collaborative way.
I know Mike leads a very
professional and highly competent staff,
much of who he could tell you is new in the last several years, but we
have assembled a great collection of employees and leaders at Golf House led by
Mike, and I know the entire executive committee is excited about moving forward
into 2014 with them.
I think most of you have heard
discussions, and if you're around today, there will be further ones and more in
depth led by Mike and our senior managing directors about what our strategic
direction is right now. Some of you know
that two years ago we adopted a strategic plan.
We basically have three core strategies within that plan, and I can tell
you that they're operating on all cylinders.
Again, this staff and this executive
committee is energized about the prospects and the endeavors surrounding these
strategies. And of course, they are that
we will conduct, No. 1, the best and most exemplary championships in golf, that
we will cover the game around the world in our joint efforts with the R&A
with a great degree of diligence and convention. And we'll excel at that effort. And then, finally, the third, what our staff
affectionally calls a bucket, is that of servicing the game and its golfers.
So most of you know that the two
primary core strategies, which I am generally reminded by the staff that I
shouldn't do, but I kind of lump together because, although I am old and I have
been around here a while, contrary to popular belief, I wasn't in that room in New
York City in December of 1894, but two of the things besides our mission
statement which still guides us was that we were going to conduct national
championships and write and interpret the rules. We've acquired other rule‑making
responsibilities have been vested in us since, but those are the two core
governing aspects of what the USGA is about.
The third bucket is one that even if
you are absolutely attached, and my background would suggest that those things
that were decided in that room in December of 1894 and those governing
responsibilities we've acquired since are paramount to everything that we're
doing in the game. But if you look at
where the game sits today and if you're not concerned about the game's health,
then it really asks the threshold question about whether or not we would have a
game to govern.
So while certainly our primary
responsibility is not to grow the game.
It is, as evidenced by this third core strategy, to be concerned with
the game's health. And we've seen many
of the initiatives that have been started the last several years that answer
the questions that the game's too expensive to play. It takes too long to play. It's not welcoming. We launched last year an awareness campaign
our pace‑of‑play initiative while we're young, and now this year we'll go into
more data collection and not just an awareness, but what's the solution to
this, and will continue to be an important part of the initiative.
One of the things that we'll focus
on beyond that is this accessibility issue, and the game, frankly, is just not
welcoming and if we are going to govern in these areas that we've been
governing in for almost 120 years, then we need to lead in these other
initiatives as well, and my remarks tonight will center around that subject of
accessibility, making the game more welcoming.
I have some background in that and it's certainly of interest to me, but
more importantly, it's an interest to our entire board and staff.
So I certainly think that we will
continue to do all the things we do in the USGA with great degree of excellence
and performing to the best of our abilities in our core functions, but we are
going to be diligent of focusing in on this sustainability and the health
issue, because if we are leaders in this game ‑‑ and it's our view that we
are ‑‑ that we're going to lead in these initiatives as well and see if we
can make some impact.
So in that regard, in 2014, we will
be committing significant resources to address this issue of
accessibility. And you know, there are a
number of audiences that have been in this debate, this discussion. We don't seek to supersede what they're
doing, but we seek to obtain best practices and solutions of how we can assist
those audiences in addressing this issue.
So I know that you'll hear more
about that this evening, but opening up the game is important to the USGA, and
most of you know many of the initiatives in which we've begun to be engaged
with that have already indicated that that's our direction, like our Drive,
Chip and Putt initiative that we've joined with the PGA of America and the
Augusta National Golf Club.
Mike was in South America a couple
of weeks ago and announced a new Latin America Amateur Championship to open up
the game in that area of the world. Our
national amateur four‑ball championships, which we’ll launch qualifying for
this year to bring in to another level of our menu of exemplary USGA
championships, incorporating the format that's played by weekend golfers across
this country every week.
So those are some of the things that
we've already tried to demonstrate that what are focusing in on opening up the
game, and I certainly look forward to interacting with you on that subject as
we move through 2014.
I will be available for any other
questions. I'm sure there are things
that you might want to inquire about those remarks or I'm sure that our
communications staff will or have already embargoed my remarks for
tonight. So at this point I turn it over
to my long‑time friend and our leader and executive director, Mike Davis.
MIKE DAVIS: Tom, thanks. Good morning, everybody. You see these two trophies up here, which I
wasn't aware they were going to be here, but it's a nice little touch. But I do want to talk about these, what we
really hope are two magical weeks this June.
This is something that the United States Golf Association has not done
before. We have in the past done joint
championships with men and women. We've
twice done joint junior championships, and we once did a joint Amateur Public Links
and Women's Amateur Public Links, which were just wonderful championships in
the sense that there was great synergy with those.
But what was interesting when you
look back, they weren't necessarily on the same course, and I'm not sure they
did exactly what we're trying to do this June, so I really want to talk a
little bit about why was I intent with doing this and then a little bit of some
of the questions that are out there of why the women's open is the second week,
and then talk a little bit of our setup strategies and some of the what we
think are some great story lines for the two weeks coming up.
So I guess to start out with, you
know, our staff and board from day one have really viewed this as while they're
clearly, it's two different championships, we are looking at it as one big
event, and that's how, you know, with Reg Jones, and also in the back of the
room, Tim Flaherty, who respectively oversee the U. S. Open and the Women's
Open, that's how their teams are approaching this, so whether it's ticket
sales, the corporate involvement or just things that are happening that week,
it is viewed as two weeks of just wonderful golf. And we're excited. We're real excited to be here at Pinehurst,
because this is one of the you can call it a home of golf in the United
States. It's really a national treasure
when it comes to Pinehurst No. 2.
So to get to the intent, contrary to
what some people think, this was never about trying to make it operationally
easier or to save money. This was all
about comparing the world's best men with the world's best women. That's what it got down to. And you know, you go back to the whole how
did this get started. This was really my
predecessor, David Fay, this was his idea.
I can remember it like it was yesterday, him coming into my office. Literally we had offices beside one another,
and he said, hey, I've got this idea; let's do the men's and women's opens, and
I kind of looked at him like, have you lost your marbles, but then you start to
think about some of the wonderful things you can do with this.
So before Pinehurst ever entered the
picture, we started thinking about some of the challenges of how do you set the
golf course up for the men versus the women, and while we really want to test,
in a lot of ways, the same things for both championships, there are differences
on how men and women play the game. So
when we started thinking about where we could do this, it quickly became
apparent that Pinehurst would be the one place that would make sense.
And roll back a little bit. This was done before Pinehurst ever did its
restoration on Pinehurst No. 2. So back
then there was Bermudagrass rough everywhere.
But the difference with Bermudagrass rough, for those that kind of
follow agronomics and golf course setup, for the men we probably would have had
the rough about two‑and‑three‑quarter inches, for the women, maybe two‑and‑a‑quarter
inches, so that difference would have been something that we easily could have
done from one week to the next versus if we were trying to do this at Oakmont,
at Merion, at the Olympic Club. There
was enough difference that practically speaking we just couldn't get the roughs
right from one week to another.
So, you know, this is clearly very
innovative. I, you know, when you
innovate things, there's always risk with it, and we know that going into it,
but we think that there's so many more up sides to this than potential down
sides, and ultimately when I talk about intent of showcasing the world's best
men and the world's best women, I think there's a secondary kind of intent
here. It's really to showcase women's
golf, because I am a big believer and I know others within the USGA are a huge
believer that the women just don't get enough credit. They just don't get enough credit, and I
guess I saw that firsthand years ago when I started getting involved with the
setup of the Women's Open and quickly learned how good they really play. And going into 2010 at Oakmont, recall that
we had had the 2007 U.S. Open there that Angel Cabrera won. And I can remember that spring leading into
it, there were a lot of people questioning saying how are you going to put the
women out on Oakmont. They'll never be
able to play it. And you know what, we
set the golf course up the same way, relatively speaking, same greens
speeds. Obviously they played different
teeing grounds, but the rough, relatively speaking, was the same. And guess what, they handled it beautifully.
So this is really a chance on the
same golf course to test the world's best.
And unlike other sports, whether it's tennis, football, soccer, pick
your sport, the arena in golf being so much, it really is ‑‑ it's a much
bigger part of the sport of golf than say a football field is or a basketball
court or a tennis court. And I think
that here what we're really trying to do is set the golf course up the same
way, relatively speaking, for two weeks in a row.
So ‑‑ and I'll talk a little
bit about setup here in a second, but the question of why Women's Open second
week. Simply put, one reason,
agronomics. We felt that ‑‑ when I
say we, it's really the experts. It's
the superintendent and it's our greens section staff who felt that we had a
much better chance of getting the golf course right for both championships and
how we want to set it up with the men going first and the women going second,
and it really gets down to the putting greens, that they're going to be the
same greens speed for both weeks, but the first week, and if Mother Nature is
cooperative, they're going to be slightly firmer. But underscore this is on a relative basis,
and they felt like they could go from very firm greens to slightly ‑‑
underscore slightly ‑‑ less firm greens that second week, and it just
agronomically was much easier to do than the reverse.
So that's the reason the women are
second. I suppose one of the things when
we talk about showcasing women's golf, we really do think we're going to have
more people follow this Women's Open than we normally do. That's a great thing. And again, we want to showcase the world's
best. And so I think, you know, just
having played the men's Open, I think people will have watched that and say,
I'm really curious on how the women are going to do the following week.
So I think there's that aspect, too,
on women going second, why you want to do it.
So there's some good things. But
really it did get down to purely agronomics was the reason.
In terms of setup, we plan to set it
up exactly the same way both weeks.
There's two relative slight differences.
One, it gets down to distances and the teeing grounds they play. The idea is here ‑‑ and Ben Kimball, who now
sets up the Women's Open, and I spent a lot of time, at least on paper, trying
to figure this out.
There will be some adjustments which
I'll talk about during the week, but the idea was on a given hole, if the men
are hitting drivers, we want to see the women hit drivers. If the men are hitting, say, 6 to 8‑irons for
their approach shots, that's what we want to see the women do.
You know, obviously easier said than
done on paper. Mother Nature can affect
it. And we know that the top to the
bottom of the field, both for the men and the women, there's a pretty big
difference between the longest and the shortest hitters, but that's the goal.
And I think that, you know, again,
we will have to adjust the week of. We
could easily get one very dry, crisp week, and the next week it could be just
thunderstorms and hot, humid. So we
would adjust things accordingly.
But the idea is, you know, the women
will play teeing grounds, relatively speaking, same way as the men, and then
the firmness of the greens I talked about, if Mother Nature is cooperative,
they would be the same way. So we like
to say if they're hitting a 6‑iron out of the fairway and it goes bounce,
bounce, stop on the green, that's what we want it to do for the men and the
In terms of trying to integrate the
two weeks, our staff, you know, Reg and Tim have really done a good job in
thinking about things like hotel rooms, thinking about what's going to be
happening, not only on site, but outside the gates that week. And the players will be told well in
advance. Certainly the women are going
to be welcome that week beforehand just like the men come in.
During the week, too, we've said how
can we integrate the two weeks. So I
think that you're going to hopefully see with our broadcast partners, maybe
women on ‑‑ maybe popping in the 18th booth and kind of talking
about what they're seeing week one as it relates to week two.
The practice facilities on that
weekend before, the short game area, if the women want to come out and practice
on it, wonderful. I think that's just
going to add intrigue to the U. S. Open week.
And in terms of actually hitting balls on the range after the men are
through on Sunday, we're going to open it up for the women. Should we have a playoff on Monday, you know
what, we're going to figure out a way to get the women out practicing
here. And if you're a spectator coming
to it, it's wonderful. You not only get
to come and watch the two or three players playing in the U. S. Open playoff,
but you get to watch the women practice.
In terms of other story lines, I
think a few things should be noted. The
restoration of Pinehurst No. 2 ‑‑ and I think it's right to call it a
restoration, maybe a little bit of a renovation, too, in some respects with
some new teeing grounds, but that is ‑‑ you know, Pinehurst No. 2 has
always been one of the great courses in the world, but what Bill Coore and Ben
Crenshaw have done here is just spectacular.
And I think credit to Pinehurst from, you know, the owner, Bob Dedman,
to the president Don Padgett, Tom Pashley, that this was a group that, listen,
it was a risk to do this. They closed
the golf course for quite some time, and look what the end product is. It's wonderful.
And I think, you know, for us,
looking back, this will be the first U. S. Open and really the first Women's
Open, too, where we're not playing with long rough grass. Think about that. We've never done that before. So when you miss a fairway here, you may be
on a sandy, hardpan lie. You may be in a
soft footprinted sandy lie. You may be
up against wire grass on pine straw. You
name it. But it's really neat. And I think, you know, that is a story in
Another great story line is just
what this restoration ‑‑ it's really a by‑product because I don't think they
went into it thinking this, but they removed roughly 35 acres of grass. That's grass that, guess what, they don't
irrigate anymore. They're not mowing on
a daily basis, and they removed roughly 700 irrigation heads. They're using roughly 40 percent the water
they used to. It's really a throwback to
the old days of maintenance up the middle, and that's something I will tell you
our greens section is really focused on that.
This, we believe, is ‑‑ not
necessarily sandy wire grass areas, but the concept of more maintenance up the
middle. Instead of irrigating,
fertilizing fungicides on your rough, go back to the way golf used to be; use
less resources, reduce the cost of the game.
This is a great story line here, folks, for this coming U. S. Open.
And then I would also say, you know,
the fact that we just announced yesterday that Payne Stewart is going to be the
Bob Jones Award winner, or is for this year, and we would typically award that
Saturday night at the annual meeting, so tonight. But that's going to be done Tuesday of the U.
S. Open week. And what more fitting
thing to do than to give this award to Payne Stewart, that magical moment in
time in 1999 and all Payne's character, the way he respected the game, we are
very proud to have him as our Bob Jones Award winner. So with that, I think, Joe, we'll turn it
over to you for Q and A.
JOE GOODE: Great, Mike. Thank you very much. Before we open it up to questions, just a
couple of housecleaning items. As Tom
mentioned, we will have some press materials for members of the media. We'll have an embargoed version of Tom's
remarks tonight. We will have some other
press materials, but we're trying to help with your reporting today. So get with the staff of the end of the press
conference for that press packet.
With that, let's open up to
questions both here in the room and on the phone.
Q. Can you quantify the U. S. Open green speeds
and the distances you expect the men and women to hit?
MIKE DAVIS: Good question. So I forgot to bring the exact yardages, but
I believe for the men it's roughly 7,500 yards, par‑70, which we've been par‑70
the last couple Opens we've been here. I
think the women were 6,700‑ish. I can
get you that information.
But there is a little bit of ‑‑ we basically when we did the setup in our mind,
we went hole by hole, and you know, you are look at a lot of data. You look at what the average drive is on the
LPGA. You look at the average drive
distance of the PGA Tour, the European Tour.
You also look at what are the longest players doing, what are the
shortest players doing. Then you have to
think architecturally about every hole.
There's some holes out here that, guess what, they're going to be laying
up to the same area, the first hole, the third hole, the seventh hole, the 13th
hole. So that's just the way the holes
were designed. But then there's other
holes where in theory, the drive zones for the women are going to be a little
bit closer to the greens than the men.
Q. Green speeds?
MIKE DAVIS: Green speeds, we usually
are right around 11‑and‑a‑half at Pinehurst No. 2. That seems to be the ideal speed for these
greens where you can get hole locations in most of the quadrants of the greens
we want, but if you start getting much higher than that, you start to lose good
hole locations, which you don't want to do.
Q. Will you adjust that for the women?
MIKE DAVIS: No. Same green speeds for week one and week
two. And we did that at Oakmont. Contrary to what some people think, the women
handled the greens speeds beautifully.
Oakmont we were over 14‑and‑a‑half, and the women handled that just
beautifully. But that's Oakmont.
Q. Mike, with some bunkers running in the waste
areas and vice versa, have you guys defined that yet going into the
MIKE DAVIS: Well, very good
question. I think what you'll see out
there at Pinehurst No. 2 is really a great statement on maybe what bunkers
should be. They are hazards. They were never intended to be perfectly
consistent ‑‑ when you get your ball in there, you should have to deal
with different lies from time to time.
You will see that at Pinehurst No. 2
where some of these bunkers, you get fluffier sand; others, it's more hard
panned. We love that. In other words, it forces the players to feel
with their feet, look with their eyes and determine what kind of shot. Now, in terms of where you go from through
the green into a hazard, we'll have a walking official with every group, but in
essence, the prepared areas, really where you've got a depression, those are
going to be treated as hazards, and then kind of the sandy wire grass areas
aren't. If there's any question, we've
got a walking referee with each group.
You'll also notice we're not going
to be manicuring these bunkers. What you
see out there today is what they're going to see Open week. So you're going to see some of the faces that
aren't raked every day, that may not be perfect, that are a little bit firmer,
when the bottoms may be firmer. Have you
ever seen that look to Royal Melbourne, I think Pinehurst has incorporated that
here. We love it, because there's just
too much money being spent on bunker maintenance in this country right
now. There are the expectations of
players that I need a perfect lie in the bunker at that time and every lie ought
to be exactly the same. We don't buy
into that logic.
Q. Mike, to sort of specify the previous
question, there is going to be a distinction between essentially the waste
areas and bunkers with rakes. At what
point will that distinction be made? It can't just be up to a field official.
MIKE DAVIS: When you're out there,
the bunkers will be prepped beforehand enough where we really believe the
player is going to be able to tell where it's in an area that is never
maintained, in other words, it's that ‑‑ it's that hard pan area, it's a
sandy footprinted area, because when you get into a bunker now, in almost every
case you start to see a depression going down.
And that's either been raked flat or it's been packed flat.
So I really think this is much to do
about nothing. I think, in most cases,
when that ball gets to a point of a bunker, it's going to roll to the
bottom. When you really look at how these
bunkers are built, most of the time the ball is just going to roll down, it's
going to be pretty clear. But there
could be instances where it's right on the edge, it's still up on the flat
part, and that's where on that rare occasion we've got a walking official
that'll make that determination. And
ultimately if it's too close to call, we're just going to treat it as a
hazard. That's the way we've
historically done it.
Q. (Question of keeping spectators out of the
waste areas. )
MIKE DAVIS: I think it's a little
different than what happened to Dustin up at Whistling Straits because there
they had a lot of bunkers outside the rope lines. I don't see that happening here at Pinehurst
No. 2. Certainly you get some sandy wire
grass areas outside of the ropes, but I don't know of a hole out there that's
going to have a bunker outside the ropes.
Q. You mentioned coming up player concerns
you're aware of. Can you give us a
preview of what you're going to be talking about with the LPGA players? And then
also maybe give us an idea if there's anything you can do about divots, because
we know after the men's open, we know how a course looks the following Monday
in certain areas with divots. Is there
anything that can be done that second week?
MIKE DAVIS: Well, Jeff, on the first
one, yes, Mike Whan, who was actually here yesterday, spoke to our board and
staff. I'm going to go to a player
meeting sometime next month and really talk to them about the intent of this. We really haven't communicated at all in
terms of, you know, why are they playing the second week, how are we going to
set the golf course up, and I think when they hear, you know, what we're going
to communicate, I think they're going to view it as, wow, this is great for
women's golf. This is going to showcase
it. We're going to have people watching
who ordinarily wouldn't have watched.
You know, in terms of the divots,
what's interesting, I think, first of all, we're on Bermudagrass. Bermudagrass, the divots just simply aren't
as big when you're on a bentgrass, where sometimes you see divots that are this
But yes, we will sand fill those,
and on most of the holes, your drive zones are actually going to be for the
women ahead of where the men played. But
as I mentioned, I can think of four holes, four par‑4s are just the way the
drives are in either a cross bunker, the way they pinch in, I think you will
see both groups kind of laying up to the same area, and certainly on the par‑5s
you may see a lay‑up areas. But I think
our view with divots is it's just part of the game. We've played U. S. Opens before ‑‑ I can
think of Pebble Beach we've had Opens there where the public is playing up till
right at the end, and there are divots all over the place, and the reality is
that's just part of the game. When you
hit it in the fairway, sometimes you're not going to get a perfect lie. When you hit it in the rough, sometimes
you're going to get a perfect lie. So
one of the things I will tell you is that particularly on those four holes I
mentioned, we'll certainly convey to the men before the U. S. Open, listen,
this is an area of concern, because they're all short holes where they're going
to be hitting wedges, nines, you know, concerns for themselves, but also
concerns for the next week to say, listen, in the practice rounds, don't be
back there hitting three or four shots and making all these divots.
Anyway, so that's the plan.
JOE GOODE: And I would say, Jeff,
too, and I think Mike would agree with this.
Suffice it to say a lot of what he relays to you today would be largely
what he relays to the LPGA as well.
Q. This is for Tom. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about
the USGA's perspective on the movement to have ‑‑ play outside the rules
for beginners, alternative golf formats.
How does the USGA look upon that when the goal is to help grow the game?
TOM O'TOOLE, JR. : Well, there have
been some initiatives recently and one currently that contemplate larger holes
and different implements in balls. You
know, our view is that if these programs or these initiatives will ultimately
draw people to our game, then that's a good thing. We're not going to call them golf, nor are we
going to bring them in our governing of what we do in golf, nor will we have
them operate under our golf rules, equipment standards.
So I think some of these things that
would enhance or entice people to play golf by playing a different game, that's
perfectly okay with us. We certainly
will never call them golf and won't treat them as such, but if they ultimately
can get people to improve that skill of what would be a less burdensome game,
not as difficult a game and ultimately move them to our game, that's good.
Q. I'm not sure for which of you three guys this
would be. In general after the marriage
of the R&A and the USGA and the Rules of Golf, the announcement of the
local rules for range finders didn't seem to sound like the marriage was
working all the time. There were
JOE GOODE: Yeah, you're right. I'll take this one, Joe. We did, our championship committee on
Wednesday and then our full executive committee on Thursday did issue a press
release saying that in 2014 we would allow the local rule or condition to be
adopted in all of our USGA amateur championships for 2014, the use of the
electronic distance measuring device.
Now, it's not that there was out‑of‑sync
announcements with the R&A. They
didn't occur at the same time, but when they were prepared to make their
announcement, we had been in discussion with them. Our championship committee had not met and
fully vetted, and we didn't want to do that telephonically, and so we told the
R&A that we would wait till our group assembled here in Pinehurst at our
annual meeting and we would vet that subject.
So there's a little bit out‑of‑timing perception that occurred here, but
there was ongoing discussion between ourselves and the R&A on this subject.
And remember, I'll remind you that
they, if you recall, the vice chairman on the Rules of Golf committee, as did Mike
in those years, there was great resistance to us having this local rule by
them, and it was a long time bringing them along, and so the fact that they've
accelerated and altered their point of view on this, I think, was a good thing.
And we think this will be a good
thing from some of the other sustainability issues that we have in the game
about its pace and from an optic standpoint, we're excited we can implement
that for our amateur championships going forward.
Q. Just wanted to know if there's been any
movement on the idea of grandfathering long putters, anchored putters for
people that do it now.
MIKE DAVIS: Well, as you know, John
Paul, we issued a statement of our determination on the proposed Rule 14(1)(b)
in July of this year, and we said that we would implement that in January 1 of
2016, and that's been our announcement.
So you know, when we went through
this long and what was a polarizing issue to some people, we had a very mindful
and thoughtful process internally and externally with people in the game. We had a notice and commentary. We had Mike and Mark Newell, who is the
chairman of our rules committee, had a lot of interaction with people in the
game and the respective allied organizations.
And so this issue was absolutely contemplated and part of that
process. So we're looking past that
journey that we went through on anchoring, and we think the game's embracing it
and we're looking forward to implementing that January 1 of '16.
Q. Would you address the issue of the firmness
of the fairways on No. 2 and how quicker they might play in '14 versus when you
had the amateur here in '08?
MIKE DAVIS: Surely. First of all, one of the neat things that
Pinehurst as a resort decided to do two years ago ‑‑ and Tom Pashley may know
the exact time ‑‑ they don't overseed with ryegrass anymore. So when you look out there today, you're
looking at dormant Bermuda. So that in
and of itself is always going to help the fairways. They're not going to develop as much thatch
organic matter as time goes on, and they really do play faster that way.
So you're going to see a U. S. Open
relative to 1999 and 2005 that's absolutely wider. I don't know how much wider, 40 percent, 50
percent wider, but it's a wider golf course than it used to be, and we want
fast fairways. I think that's thinking
about what happens when your ball lands is, you know, we think a great part of
One of the things you're also going
to see, and we did this last year at Merion, is that we have really come to the
conclusion that one of the ways to help the game of golf to make the game more
enjoyable is looking at mow heights, and this is mow heights at championships
and it's mow heights for day‑to‑day play for the recreational game, and in my
time with the USGA, I've watched fairways.
When I first joined, the USGA cut it a half an inch, and they went down
to a quarter of an inch, and guess what, it was like an arms race with greens
speeds. Same thing.
So we really think that it's better
for the game to get the heights of grass in the fairways up. It allows golfers to get a club under the
ball. And so we did that last year at
Merion. We literally went from a quarter
inch almost up to a half an inch, and I don't know of one single player that
complained about that. But you know
what, the members at Merion loved it.
And I think that's a message we're trying to send.
It's the same thing with green
speeds. There's been that kind of arms
race with greens speeds. And guess what
that's done. It's made the game more
expensive; it's made it more time consuming.
In some cases it's compromised architecture. It's caused more disease and other things, so
this is a ‑‑ you know what, if we're going to try to message this for the
everyday game, we should do it ourselves.
So we're going to have higher fairway cuts this time, but that doesn't
mean they're going to be slower, because when a higher cut, believe it or not,
you don't have to use as much water. It
keeps the plant healthier. So that's our
game plan for this year.
JOE GOODE: Thank you all for joining
us today. Enjoy the rest of the day.
by ASAP Sports