Pinehursts US Open Impact

By Casey BiererJuly 29, 2005, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: Casey Bierer is The Golf Channel's new Business Reporter. He will file regular Business Edge columns so be sure to check back for his latest offerings.
PINEHURST, NC -- Aside from a couple of dog days of summer, Pinehurst is as it always seems to be; a near perfect setting for some of the worlds best golf. A living, breathing Norman Rockwell painting, Pinehurst is a place where, for all practical purposes, time has stood still to call back a simpler era of gentle Southern hospitality and everlasting charm. Except, of course, when you consider that approximately 400,000 people just blew through here six short weeks ago for the U.S. Open.

I can honestly say, there were no negatives this year, said Steven Smith, Mayor of Pinehurst. In 1999, people didnt know what to expect. Was the event going to be too big for the Village of Pinehurst to handle? But, Pinehurst Resort did such a great job on traffic logistics and the infrastructureit went off almost flawlessly. This year, it was a repeat of 1999 from a logistical standpoint visa vi the village. In fact, I have not heard a single discouraging word. And thats odd from a town full of retirees.
Pinehursts Village Manager, Andy Wilkison, concurs. It was noticeably more intense this time than in ninety-nine. There were way more people in town. The first two days of the Open in 1999 had maybe twelve to fifteen thousand out there on Monday and Tuesday. On the first day this year, we had some 35,000 people. We knew 2005 was going to be different than 1999 from that respect.
In fact, for tournament days, there were some 55,000 people on the course at any given time. This number includes everyone: spectators, volunteers, media, USGA officials and groundskeepers. As Mayor Smith looks back in retrospect, it couldnt have gone better. I think the U.S. Open is one of the key sporting events anywhere in the world. You think of the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Indy 500. Its certainly in the upper echelon of sport. And each year I think the U.S. Open is going to get bigger. When it comes back here again ' and I do think it will return here in 2013 or 2014 ' its going to be even that much bigger. The great thing about Pinehurst Resort, because of the abundance of space and the Resorts relationship with the Village of Pinehurst, it can handle attendance growth extremely well.
Attendance growth naturally relates to the economic impact the U.S. Open can have on a community. Caleb Miles is the President and CEO of the Convention and Visitors Bureau ' Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area; the official destination marketing organization for Moore County. They use an economic impact model called IM-Plan to estimate two primary revenue indicator numbers. First, the direct spending number - in the 12 counties surrounding Moore County where Pinehurst is located, estimated at $70.8 million. Second, new dollars, which takes into account payroll dollars to include the people that work in the community and not just visitors. This figure is approximately $124 million.
We use an intercept form of collecting the data. We track the number of people who attend the event, the number of days they spend in the community broken down even more specifically to day visitors and overnight visitors, and, how much money visitors spend while they are here, said Miles. Moore County has just over 2,600 hotel rooms. The U.S. Open required 10,000 rooms on peak days. We used a regional housing system that includes the twelve counties around Pinehurst to accommodate all the people. With major access points to Pinehurst like Raleigh/Durham and Greensboro being in relative close proximity to Pinehurst, people were able to find places to stay away from the tournament site while still having a convenient drive to get here.
According to Beth Kocher, Executive VP, Pinehurst Resort and Chairman 2005 U.S. Open, We are so pleased the USGA says the Open will return to Pinehurst. No specific date has been locked down but we have been told to anticipate 2013 or 2014. She went on to say, The USGA was extremely complimentary of the course, our tournament presentation, the crowds we got, they just could not have been happier.
As we all know, 9/11 changed the way everyone thinks about security. Major sporting events are no exception. Pinehurst Police Chief Ernest Hooker was handling security at the 1999 U.S. Open. It was mostly about traffic flow and pedestrian management. The 2005 U.S. Open meant real security issues. Chief Hooker was pleased with the results. The Chief says, We were concerned because of the events of 9/11. But, we had the advantage of having the Open here in 1999. We learned a lot from that experience.
Security preparation for the 2005 U.S. Open started about a year-and-a-half before the tournament. We met with not only the people putting on the tournament, but also the North Carolina State Police and the Sheriffs Departmentand from the beginning we were working towards a common goal. We were all trying to achieve the same thing ' optimum security and safety. I think we accomplished that quite well.
I think the sense of pride of hosting the U.S. Open, of being able to go the Open, of saying I live in Pinehurst and look, were on the world stagewell, in a way, this intangible package almost overrides the economic package locally, Mayor Smith said when asked if hosting a U.S. Open was worth the effort. Sure, the hotels and restaurants are packed. The business people, the retail shops, they had a significant up-tick in their business. But, its not just about economics. To see the community come together to put on this event is the real payoff.
Email your thoughts to Casey Bierer
Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.

Good time to hang up on viewer call-ins

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 7:40 pm

Golf announced the most massive layoff in the industry’s history on Monday morning.

Armchair referees around the world were given their pink slips.

It’s a glorious jettisoning of unsolicited help.

Goodbye and good riddance.

The USGA and R&A’s announcement of a new set of protocols Monday will end the practice of viewer call-ins and emails in the reporting of rules infractions.

“What we have heard from players and committees is ‘Let’s leave the rules and administration of the event to the players and those responsible for running the tournament,’” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and amateur status.


The protocols, formed by a working group that included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America, also establish the use of rules officials to monitor the televised broadcasts of events.

Additionally, the protocols will eliminate the two-shot penalty when a player signs an incorrect scorecard because the player was unaware of a violation.

Yes, I can hear you folks saying armchair rules officials help make sure every meaningful infraction comes to light. I hear you saying they make the game better, more honest, by helping reduce the possibility somebody violates the rules to win.

But at what cost?

The chaos and mayhem armchair referees create can ruin the spirit of fair play every bit as much as an unreported violation. The chaos and mayhem armchair rules officials create can be as much a threat to fair play as the violations themselves.

The Rules of Golf are devised to protect the integrity of the game, but perfectly good rules can be undermined by the manner and timeliness of their enforcement.

We have seen the intervention of armchair referees go beyond the ruin of fair play in how a tournament should be conducted. We have seen it threaten the credibility of the game in the eyes of fans who can’t fathom the stupidity of a sport that cannot separate common-sense enforcement from absolute devotion to the letter of the law.

In other sports, video review’s timely use helps officials get it right. In golf, video review too often makes it feel like the sport is getting it wrong, because timeliness matters in the spirit of fair play, because the retroactive nature of some punishments are as egregious as the violations themselves.  

We saw that with Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration this year.

Yes, she deserved a two-shot penalty for improperly marking her ball, but she didn’t deserve the two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. She had no idea she was signing an incorrect scorecard.

We nearly saw the ruin of the U.S. Open at Oakmont last year, with Dustin Johnson’s victory clouded by the timing of a video review that left us all uncertain if the tournament was playing out under an incorrect scoreboard.

“What these protocols are put in place for, really, is to make sure there are measures to identify the facts as soon as possible, in real time, so if there is an issue to be dealt with, that it can be handled quickly and decisively,” Pagel said.

Amen again.

We have pounded the USGA for making the game more complicated and less enjoyable than it ought to be, for creating controversy where common sense should prevail, so let’s applaud executive director Mike Davis, as well as the R&A, for putting common sense in play.

Yes, this isn’t a perfect answer to handling rules violations.

There are trap doors in the protocols that we are bound to see the game stumble into, because the game is so complex, but this is more than a good faith effort to make the game better.

This is good governance.

And compared to the glacial pace of major rules change of the past, this is swift.

This is the USGA and R&A leading a charge.

We’re seeing that with the radical modernization of the Rules of Golf scheduled to take effect in 2019. We saw it with the release of Decision 34/3-10 three weeks after Thompson’s loss at the ANA, with the decision limiting video review to “reasonable judgment” and “naked eye” standards. We’re hearing it with Davis’ recent comments about the “horrible” impact distance is having on the game, leading us to wonder if the USGA is in some way gearing up to take on the golf ball.

Yes, the new video review protocols aren’t a panacea. Rules officials will still miss violations that should have been caught. There will be questions about level playing fields, about the fairness of stars getting more video review scrutiny than the rank and file. There will be questions about whether viewer complaints were relayed to rules officials.

Golf, they say, isn’t a game of perfect, and neither is rules enforcement, though these protocols make too much sense to be pilloried. They should be applauded. They should solve a lot more problems than they create.

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”