SBD/November 19, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

USGA President Glen Nager Leaving Position In '14 After Failed Organizational Change

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Nager also had a stint as USGA General Counsel from '06-08
USGA President Glen Nager will "leave the organization for good when his second one-year term expires Feb. 8" after he lost a "power struggle to bring broad organizational changes," according to Ron Sirak of GOLF DIGEST. Sources said that those changes included a "bid to create a long-term chief-executive position." Nager's plan, presented in September during the Walker Cup, "not only failed, but its audacity unified a group not unfamiliar with political infighting and coalesced support" for USGA Exec Dir Mike Davis and incoming President Thomas O'Toole Jr., both of whom "would have had diminished roles under the proposed restructuring." Sources said that Nager "wanted O'Toole removed from the 15-person Executive Committee and passed over as president, and he wanted Davis to report to a chief executive." A USGA official said that Nager "wanted to bypass O'Toole because he considered O'Toole too close to Davis, a longtime USGA ally, to work effectively under a chief executive." As an ex-president, Nager "stood to remain in an influential position in the USGA, if past protocol had been followed." Nager in two years "would have become vice chairman of the five-person Nominating Committee, and in four years he would have chaired that committee." Asked multiple times if Nager "tried to have him passed over as president, O'Toole steadfastly declined to comment." But sources said that it is "a fact, some citing O'Toole as their source." A source said of this notion, "It is 100 percent true." Nager, a "relative USGA newcomer ... did not work his way up through committees, as have almost all USGA presidents." That "likely hurt him when he made his organizational proposal" (GOLF DIGEST, 1/'14 issue).

DIGGING DEEPER: GOLF.com's Michael Bamberger wrote the "very idea of a major management change raises deeper questions about what the USGA is and what it should be." The "answers to those questions directly impact the game as millions of golfers play it." Bamberger: "The stronger the USGA is, the more effective it can be in putting its stamp on the game. But how strong the USGA is right now, relative to the PGA Tour, the PGA of America and the collection of equipment manufacturers, is open to debate." The most "essential, and daunting, issue for the USGA is to figure out how it will shape golf." That task is "far more difficult for the organization than it once was," as for "decades, the USGA was, by far, the most powerful organization in American golf." But in the "past quarter-century, the PGA Tour has become, by far, the dominant influence on how golf is played in America." There are "no Tour stars with prominent ties to the USGA." Behind Nager's failed initiative is a "more fundamental question: Is the modern USGA basically a think-tank for golf that operates important national championships?" Or is it "another cog in the business of golf?" The "staggering amount of money" the USGA will receive from its media rights deal with Fox "suggests it is much more of a business than it has ever been." Bamberger: "But do we want a bunch of businesspeople telling us how to play and enjoy our game?" (GOLF.com, 11/18).
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