USGA chief Davis to step down at end of 2021
Mike Davis, chief executive of the United States Golf Association, is set to leave the national governing body at the end of next year to pursue a lifelong passion of designing and constructing golf courses.
The USGA announced yesterday Davis would leave his post, ending a 32-year career with the organisation, which began with him overseeing ticket sales and transportation in 1990.
He was named executive director in 2011 and became the USGA’s first chief executive in 2016 after an organisational shake-up.
Davis said: “It’s just the right time for me. I’ve absolutely loved the USGA and I hate the idea of leaving it. But at the heart of this, I have always loved golf course design. I loved learning, seeing playing, studying golf courses. I’m closer to 60 than I am 50 and there was almost a sense that if I don’t do this, I’m going to regret it.”
After leaving his role, Davis plans to join Tom Fazio II, a member of a distinguished family of course designers, to start a new golf architecture firm called Fazio and Davis Golf Design.
He said: “One of the wonderful things these 32 years afforded me was I’ve gone out of my way to see most of the world’s great courses. I’ve played them, studied them, read about them, taken pictures of them. I’ve read all the architecture books.”
Stu Francis, USGA president, said: “Mike has been a transformative leader in golf and his actions to move the USGA forward have been numerous and decisive.”
Achievements have included the modernisation of the Rules of Golf, the launch of the World Handicap System, the creation of the USGA Foundation and plans for the expansion of the USGA footprint with a second base at in Pinehurst, North Carolina.
He also oversaw the launch of four new championships: the US Senior Women’s Open; the men’s and women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championships; and an event for golfers with disabilities which is due to start in 2022 or 2023.
Davis’ replacement will be chosen by a succession committee made up of several member of the USGA executive committee, with the aim of having a decision made by May 2021, before the US Open at Torrey Pines.
Davis said while he will be part of the process, he will not be choosing his own successor adding: “I’m sure I’ll offer something about what the job entails and what I think is needed. When the time comes, I’ll make sure people know that this is the new person.”
Meanwhile, the Ryder Cup, the biennial men's teams contest between Europe and USA, has today unveiled Toro, the US landscaping equipment company, as a new sponsor until 2029.
Under the long-term deal, Toro will be the official turf maintenance equipment and irrigation provider for the competition.
The agreement begins with next year’s re-arranged Ryder Cup, which is set to take place from 21 to 26 September, 2021 at Whistling Straits in Kohler in the US state of Wisconsin.
The prestigious tournament was due to be held this month but was eventually postponed until 2021 because of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Beyond next year’s contest, the agreement with Toro covers four additional Ryder Cups this decade: in 2023 (Rome, Italy), 2025 (Farmingdale, New York), 2027 (County Limerick, Ireland), and 2029 (Chaska, Minnesota).
Toro will be designated as a worldwide supplier of the Ryder Cup, joining indoor golf and entertainment platform aboutGOLF, global logistics company UPS, and PepsiCo, the US soft drinks and snack foods giant.
The tournament’s sponsorship portfolio also includes Aon, the international insurance broker, and German car brand BMW as worldwide partners.