Mike Davis To Answer U.S. Women's Open Concerns
By Torleif Sorenson on 1/15/14
The United States Golf Association and the Ladies Professional Golf Association are taking a very calculated risk this year with the U.S. Women's Open. The question is not the venue; Pinehurst #2 is one of the truly iconic courses in all of North America.
The issue is timing: It will be held on that course just days after the men's U.S. Open is completed — on the very same course. And some very thoughtful and serious concerns need to be addressed.
Now, LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan has invited USGA executive director Mike Davis to appear and answer questions from LPGA players and officials during the first players' meeting this year. That will occur on March 18, ahead of the LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix.
In a conversation with Golf Channel's Randall Mell, Whan gave a preview of some of the questions Davis expects to face:
"I have questions and so do some of the players, about practice, when can we practice? What happens if there's a playoff and they're playing on Monday? What about course setup? Are the landing areas into the greens going to be pretty beat up? Is the range going to be OK for us? How much access are we going to get? How comfortable is the USGA going to be with us trying to create more awareness for us in week two during week one? What about accommodations? Is it going to be difficult for us and our players to find accommodations, especially the weekend before?"Arguably, no USGA executive director has had to face the amount of scrutiny over high-profile events the way Mike Davis has. Sure, he faces questions over course setup at the men's U.S. Open pretty much every year. But this is the first time ever that the USGA has attempted to host the men's and women's Opens at the same course — on consecutive weekends, no less.
On the other hand, Davis is an exceptionally intelligent man with a good leadership team. This writer expects that they will have already thought about these concerns, as well as weather and foot-traffic contingencies.
One other salient point: This grand experiment would not have been possible under former LPGA commission Carolyn Bivens, whose reign as commissioner ended in disaster. Following some clean-up by interim commissioner, retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Marsha J. "Marty" Evans, Michael Whan has done an outstanding job of rebuilding the LPGA's schedule of tournaments.
Women's golf has not yet reached the audience sizes men's golf enjoys, but between Whan's leadership and the USGA willing to take on the U.S. Open schedule they're attempting this year, these two people and their support staff seem to be more capable than any others of pulling off this fascinating effort.
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