2004: Ridley: USGA changes set for fall

Southampton, N.Y.

Fred Ridley, U.S. Golf Association president, said the organization is on track to implement changes to the controversial nominating process for its Executive Committee.

Ridley told Golfweek June 17 that recommendations from an ad hoc committee that was assembled in February to modernize the nominating procedures have been reviewed by the Executive Committee and the Advisory Committee of Past Presidents and could be incorporated this fall into the USGA bylaws.

The decision to revise the process was announced Feb. 6 at the USGA’s annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. (Golfweek, Feb. 14).

The new plan is expected to stipulate that the Nominating Committee be chaired by the current USGA president and include a recent past president and several “independent individuals” from USGA member clubs around the country.

Historically the nominating process has been controlled by past presidents of the USGA. But in recent months the procedure has drawn increased criticism by USGA members who believe that past presidents, as chairmen of the Nominating Committee, were able to advance agendas by steering favored candidates toward inclusion on the Executive Committee, which sets policies and makes decisions on all USGA matters. At the annual meeting, the Executive Committee concluded that the process for choosing decision-makers who must deal with complex issues such as equipment technology should be modernized.

The ad hoc committee is chaired by Fred Nelson, the USGA general counsel, and includes USGA vice president Paul Caruso, Executive Committee member Mary Bea Porter-King and former USGA

president Trey Holland.

Ridley said the proposal was reviewed and “massaged a little bit” by the Executive Committee and Advisory Committee of Past Presidents, and will be finalized by the ad hoc committee by mid-July. He said it “definitely” will be implemented as an amendment to the bylaws this fall, and will be used to form next year’s Nominating Committee that considers candidates for the 2006 Executive Committee.

Ridley said this will be the first inclusion of nominating guidelines in the USGA bylaws. “The current process has evolved through custom,” he said.

Ridley said the Advisory Committee of Past Presidents will remain “very involved” in USGA decision-making. “They give us a lot of good input,” he said.

The influence of past presidents, however, will be significantly curbed.

“I think it’s a good change,” Ridley said. “It’s important that every organization look at its

governance from time to time. I think everyone in our organization will be happy with it.”

– Dave Seanor

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