USGA breaches etiquette with Fox announcement

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PITTSFORD, N.Y. – For the good of the game? Those are six big words in the golf industry – a recycled but effective catch phrase notably adopted by the USGA, which has always employed honor as something of a shield. A big decision is one thing. How you go about communicating that decision is another thing entirely.

In announcing it has reached a long-term agreement to sell broadcast rights to the U.S. Open to Fox Sports, the Fistfuls in Far Hills have violated a very sacred tenet: You don’t release such information on the eve of someone else’s major championship. Forget tugging on Superman’s cape or spitting into the wind. This is just lousy manners, a transparent and selfish act directed at a rival organization, the PGA of America, ostensibly in retribution for the anchored-putter skirmish that arose between the governing bodies late last year.

Golf swears by its etiquette, but this is a burp at the dinner table among heads of state. And from the bleating Bluecoats, no less, who never met a cause they couldn’t tackle without a ton of help.

Last time I checked, six-time PGA Tour winner Brandt Snedeker wouldn’t swing an axe at someone unless you handed him the hatchet and stuck out your neck. “Don’t know the relationship between @USGA and @ThePGAofAmerica but seems petty to announce new TV deal today USGA… Couldn’t wait??” Sneds tweeted.

Guess not, seeing how Fox won’t have a U.S. Open on its air for almost two years. When you drive 90 miles per hour to get somewhere an hour ahead of schedule, people are sure to ask why you’re in such a rush. That’s when you scratch your head and realize you could have caused a wreck.

To golf’s conscientious public, this may look like a fender bender, and in due time, that’s all it will be. The USGA certainly hasn’t violated any laws of economics by peddling our national championship to the highest bidder. You say it’s a game, somebody will tell you it’s a business. And someone else might point out that in a certain context, timing is indeed everything.

If you’re gonna belch, folks, do it in private. Far from the dinner table, where a feast is about to be served.