SBD/August 22, 2013/Media

USGA's Davis Defends Timing Of Fox Announcement, Regrets Not Lauding Partners

Davis said the USGA could not sit on the news because it would have been leaked
USGA Exec Dir Mike Davis knew his organization "would take plenty of heat" for its announcement on the eve of the PGA Championship that Fox had signed to carry the U.S. Open starting in '15, but "said there was little the governing body could do," according to Michael Whitmer of the BOSTON GLOBE. Davis said, "If the golf world thinks we could have sat on that (news) for five or six days, they’re clueless. The last thing we wanted to do was announce it on the eve of the PGA. ... But we couldn’t sit on it, either." Whitmer notes once the exclusive negotiating window between the USGA and NBC expired, "it created an open market." Davis said that the situation "resulted in three publicly traded companies submitting bids with time deadlines." He added that once a decision was made, the USGA "owed it to the winner -- and the two losers -- to inform them." Whitmer notes the "perception by some was that the announcement on the eve of the PGA was in response to the very public disagreement the USGA and PGA of America have had" over a ban on anchored putting. Davis said that that was "simply not true." Davis: "It was one of those things where it wasn’t ideal, but we were literally wedged into a corner, it was a no-win [situation]. The view was get hold of the PGA ahead of time and apologize, which we did, and then from there you just take your lumps." Davis added the organization "could have done a much better job singing the praises of NBC, Golf Channel, and ESPN, because they have been wonderful to work with." He added, "There were some hurt feelings, and we never meant to insinuate that it was because of the quality" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/22).

TOO GOOD TO TURN DOWN: Davis said of the Fox deal, "We just feel from a qualitative and a quantitative standpoint that this was a deal that was just too good to refuse. We're going to get a lot more promotion and hours for amateur championships, which we really think is important for the game." He added, "There are some exciting things from a digital media standpoint and I think for the game of golf to have it covered now by all the major networks is good for the game." Davis noted that the USGA is "making a good bit more money" from the new deal. He said, "We are a non-profit and our monies have to go back into the game of golf. ... We will have more funds to ultimately do a better job governing, do a better job running our championships." Davis: "Looking back on it, if there's anything we could have done, we would have done. The last thing we wanted to do was [affect] the PGA" (FAIRWAYSOFLIFE.com, 8/20).

TENSION IN THE AIR
: GOLFWEEK reports the U.S. Amateur Championship that ended on Sunday was "the first time folks from NBC and the USGA had been face to face" since the announcement of the USGA-Fox deal, and "tense might best describe the mood." What "really hurt" NBC execs was the "public rebuke" by USGA President Glen Nager "over the product NBC has delivered for 14 years" (GOLFWEEK, 8/23 issue).
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