USGA plans national championships for disabled golfers

USGA plans national championships for disabled golfers

Golf

USGA plans national championships for disabled golfers

WASHINGTON – “Hey Siri, how do I take relief from this cart path?”

Credit Mike Davis, executive director and chief executive officer of the U.S. Golf Association, for enlivening a daylong annual meeting with an interesting glimpse into the game’s future.

Davis’ comments came in a casual conversation Town Hall session with newly re-elected USGA president Diana Murphy that was devoted to the role of technology in helping make golf more relevant, more sustainable and more economically viable.

Over 400 members, friends and employees of golf’s ruling body in the U.S. and Mexico gathered in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C. Saturday to give a glimpse of where the game is going and how our national championships are evolving. Having recently added the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball and U.S. Women’s Women’s Amateur Four-Ball to the roster of U.S. national championships, the USGA is next poised to add a U.S. Women’s Senior Open in 2018, to be held at Chicago Golf Club.

Next in the works, according to various USGA officials, are national championships for men and women involving disabled golfers. There are a lot of details to be worked out, most of it having to do with what would count as “disabled.” But as Davis said, “there are millions and millions of disabled people in the U.S.,” and it would make sense to recognize them. The USGA already works with the National Alliance for Accessible Golf and Special Olympic and is concerned to make everyday facilities more amenable to disabled golfers.

“But we can do more,” said Davis. He admitted that planning is still a few years out, describing it as “not ten years, closer to three or four.” Such an event might also be undertaken in tandem with rules modifications for playing equipment for disabled golfers.

The theme of technology and ease of access to golf resonated during sessions devoted to social media, rules simplification, and the sustainability of golf course facilities. Rand Jerris, senior directing manager for public services for the USGA, chaired a session on the work of a newly formed Resource, Science and Innovation group that is mapping out technologies for measuring labor, management and resource inputs of every square foot of a golf course. By studying the plication of everything from man hours to water and chemicals, course operators will be able to make more efficient decisions about where attention needs to be paid and what areas could be taken out of intensive maintenance. The intent is to help clubs reduce operating costs while enabling golfers to enjoy courses that are more fun and less intensively cultivated.

In other news, the USGA announced that Bob Ford, longtime golf professional at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club and Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Fla., is the recipient of the prestigious Bon Jones Award. The formal presentation will be made during the 2017 U.S. Open.

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