November 25, 2007

Newsmakers 2007: USGA

Walter Driver, USGA President

Walter Driver, USGA President

On the course the USGA again demonstrated what it learned from the debacle at Shinnecock Hills in 2004: The setup of Oakmont for the U.S. Open earned Mike Davis high praise. The drivable par-4 17th hole provided high drama. Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk came there with a chance to catch eventual winner Angel Cabrera, but each failed in what was an extremely entertaining championship. Cristie Kerr won the U.S. Women's Open, holding off Lorena Ochoa in a head-to-head match-up at Pine Needles Lodge & GC. The USGA and the R&A also released their quadrennial update of the Rules of Golf with minor modifications coming to 28 of the 34 rules. Most significant, hitting yourself with a shot is now a one-stroke penalty instead of two, and carrying (but not using) a non-conforming club is a two-stroke penalty per hole (four per round max) instead of disqualification. As for the organization, the world little notes nor long remembers the internal squabbles at the USGA, but this year the in-fighting spilled over into headlines when president Walter Driver (right) followed a Golf World cover story entitled "Can the USGA survive Walter Driver?" with a couple of high-level staff changes. First, head agronomist Tim Moraghan was shown the door followed by the involuntary departure of senior director of communications Marty Parkes. Driver's exit, however, was planned. It was announced late in the year that Jim Vernon would take over as president in February when Driver's second one-year term expires.