JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)—Mike Davis is taking over as executive director ofthe U.S. Golf Association without having to give up part of his old job that heloved the most—setting up golf courses for the U.S. Open.
The USGA said Wednesday it has selected Davis to be its seventh executivedirector. He replaces David Fay, who retired in December after 21 years incharge.
Davis, a 21-year veteran of the USGA and its senior director of rules andcompetition since 2005, has become popular with the players over the last fiveyears for his sense of fairness in setting up U.S. Open courses. He introducedthe concept of graduated rough, and twice in the last four years has declined tochange a par 4 into a par 5 because he felt it made those holes fair andexciting.
One of those was the 18th at Torrey Pines in 2008, where Tiger Woods madebirdie on the 72nd hole to force a playoff that he won.
Staying involved in course setup was key to Davis taking over as executivedirector.
“They knew I very much wanted it,” Davis said of his new job. “I tried toargue the point that not only is it something I very much like, it’s somethingI’ve gotten decent at. So why look for a change?”
When asked if the job description was altered for Davis, USGA president JimHyler replied, “The short answer is slight.”
“Obviously, Mike has done a terrific job with the U.S. Open setup and we’dbe nuts if we pulled him out of that,” Hyler said. “We want him to continue tobe involved in our signature event from a course setup standpoint. When wetalked with Mike about this job, we never dreamed he would not be involved inthe setup. It fits very well. We get the best of both worlds.”
There’s more to the job than setting up a golf course, however.
Davis, 46, will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the USGA,which governs golf in the United States and Mexico and works with the Royal &Ancient, which governs the rest of the world, in setting the rules andregulating equipment standards.
He reports to the USGA president, who serves two one-year terms.
Davis said he will delegate the jobs of course setup at the U.S. SeniorOpen, U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Amateur and the Walker Cup. He said Jeff Hallwould be his temporary replacement in charge of rules and competition, and thatthe USGA is looking at reorganizing the department because of how much it hasgrown over the years.
Along with running 13 national championships, the USGA oversees some 700qualifying events.
Davis said he was apprehensive about some of his new responsibilities, whichinclude overseeing the USGA staff and working with the governing body’scorporate and broadcast partners and state associations. His only concern is nothaving enough time.
Otherwise, he said there will be only a few differences from what Fayhandled.
One of them is the broadcast booth.
Fay was famous for his bow ties, and he often sat in on NBC Sports telecastsof the U.S. Open in case a rules question arose.
“You won’t see me in a bow tie,” Davis said, adding that he most likelywould not be in the booth during a U.S. Open. Davis also said he would only getinvolved in the U.S. Open in the early morning before competition. He would notdeal with championship details such as pace of play or deciding when to stopplay in case of bad weather.
“I’ve very organized and detail oriented,” Davis said. “When it comes toother people’s areas, I believe in giving them responsibility and holding themaccountable. The stuff I do myself, I’ll get my hands dirty. But I’m not goingto micromanage people.”
Davis grew up in Pennsylvania and played college golf at Georgia Southern.
He attended his first U.S. Open in 1980 with his father, and was amazed tosee shots that barely missed the fairway disappear into deep rough, while shotswell off line landed in trampled grass where the spectators were walking. That’swhere he came up with the idea of graduated rough—shorter near the fairway,thicker as the it got farther away.