Category: Mike Davis

June 14, 2013

VIDEO: Wayward tee shot interrupts Carl Pettersson's approach shot in backswing

Posted at 1:36 PM by Coleman McDowell

ARDMORE, Pa. -- Merion is playing tough -- and that's without your ball becoming a moving target in your backswing. 

While on the fifth hole Friday morning, Carl Pettersson was about to hit his approach into the 504-yard par-4 when a ball came bounding across the fairway directly towards him. When Pettersson took his club back, his ball was there. But before he entered his downswing, it was gone. The intruding ball had knocked Pettersson's ball between his legs.  

The culprit? Brandon Crick, former college standout at Nebraska who made it into the U.S. Open field by way of local qualifying. With the most precise timing and aim, Crick managed to move Pettersson's ball right out from under him. Crick played his ball from where it stopped, while Pettersson was allowed to move his ball back to its original location without penalty.

Was this a once-in-a-blue-moon accident? Maybe. Or could it be the first domino to fall in Mike Davis's plan to sabotage golfers who use belly putters? (Like our unsuspecting victim, Pettersson)

Pettersson went on to make a bogey. Crick managed a birdie.

Step one of Davis' plan is complete. Watch out Tim Clark. 

June 12, 2013

USGA's Mike Davis: We don't worry about winning score

Posted at 3:08 PM by Coleman McDowell

Mikedavis_300The USGA historically tries to keep the winning score at the U.S. Open around even par, even a few strokes over. Or so we all thought.

In a press conference Wednesday morning, executive director Mike Davis said USGA officials don't sit around worrying about the winning score. "It's not something we use as a metric for success," Davis said. "If you see 14-under win or 5-over win, we want to know if the course was played appropriately."

To play the course appropiately might be difficult to do in the severe thunderstorms and hail on the radar for Thursday. But so far this week, the drainage at the historic course has been the MVP, allowing players to get in full practice rounds Tuesday after a stormy Monday. Davis said the USGA will take a reactionary approach to whatever Mother Nature throws at them the rest of the week.

"We happen to play a sport that's outside," Davis said. "It's not a perfect world. It's not a perfect game. A lot of times you just have to see what you're dealing with."

Merion has several holes that Davis can tinker with to give players different looks throughout the tournament. He's shooting for an estimated 13 on the Stimpmeter on all greens even with the rain, with the exception of the severely sloped No. 5 green that will be played closer to 12. The 13th can play under 100 yards, opposed to the other par 3s, which measure 236 yards, 246 yards and 256 yards, respectively. Other holes like No. 10 (303-yard par 4) are already driveable, but Davis' crew might make them more enticing to long bombers who might need a birdie.

"We did that during the Walker Cup [in 2009], and it was wonderful," Davis said. "At this point, I don't think we know for sure. When you think about making a hole shorter, you think about the risk and reward. We would have to be convinced that a percentage of the players would try it, and there would have to be a big enough chance they could pull it off."

Photo: Mike Davis at Merion on Wednesday (Getty Images).

May 17, 2013

USGA to announce anchored putter decision on Tuesday

Posted at 9:55 AM by Mike Walker

Bradley_long_300Anchored putters, your time may be up.

The USGA will announce its final decision on whether to ban anchored putting -- in other words, belly putter and long putters that are "anchored" against the body -- at a news conference Tuesday at USGA headquarters in Far Hills, N.J. The 8 a.m. press conference will be broadcast live on Golf Channel. The USGA will also provide a live webcast of the press conference here.

In November, the USGA and the R&A proposed a rule change to ban anchored putting strokes after three of the previous five major champions used either belly putters or long putters, including Keegan Bradley [right] at the 2011 PGA Championship. After the USGA and R&A proposed to ban anchored putting, Adam Scott won the Masters with a long putter in April. (The R&A -- the Royal & Ancient Golf Club -- administers the game outside the United States and Mexico.)

The proposed rule change has been controversial; the PGA Tour and the PGA of America have both told the USGA that they are against the proposed change. However, the European Tour, the LPGA and several prominent former and current players -- including Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer -- support the ban.

In a written statement in November, the USGA executive Mike Davis said that anchored putting is at odds with the essence of the game:  “Throughout the 600-year history of golf, the essence of playing the game has been to grip the club with the hands and swing it freely at the ball,” said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis. “The player’s challenge is to control the movement of the entire club in striking the ball, and anchoring the club alters the nature of that challenge. Our conclusion is that the Rules of Golf should be amended to preserve the traditional character of the golf swing by eliminating the growing practice of anchoring the club.”

Supports of anchored putting have argued that the rule change is not fair to players who use anchoring, which has been legal for 30 years, that the ban would limit the enjoyment of recreational players, and that anchored putting is not an advantage.

USGA do not appear to have changed their mind. In an interview in the June issue of Golf Magazine, Davis defended the proposed rule change.

"We weren't trying to hurt anybody," Davis said. "It's a divisive issue and it's been divisive ever since the long putter has been around. We're simply trying to clarify it and put it to bed."

If the USGA and R&A adopt the rule change, then it would most likely take effect in the next scheduled rules update: Jan 1. 2016. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has declined to say whether the PGA Tour would go along with the USGA and ban anchored putting on the PGA Tour.

Photo of Keegan Bradley at the 2013 Byron Nelson Championship (Getty Images).

January 23, 2013

Clark speaks out against anchored putting ban in players' meeting: Truth & Rumors

Posted at 9:58 AM by Jeff Ritter

Tim-ClarkAs expected, the anchored putting ban was the hottest topic at the PGA Tour players' meeting held Tuesday night at Torrey Pines.

The USGA and R&A have already ruled to ban anchored putting starting in 2016. The Tour generally goes along with the ruling bodies' decisions, but there is some chance that the Tour could enact the ban earlier or decide not to adopt it all, though that seems unlikely.

Golf Channel's Randall Mell reports that at least one player, Tim Clark (pictured), who currently employs an anchored putting stroke, spoke up adamantly against the ban:

One PGA Tour pro after another leaving the mandatory players meeting declined to comment for the record, but two participants in the meeting said Tim Clark stepped up strongest in defense of anchored putting.

According to the two participants, who did not want to be quoted, U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis gave a presentation outlining the proposed new definition of a legal stroke, which would ban anchored putting. The presentation included photographs of proper and improper strokes. Afterward, when Davis invited questions, Clark was the first to ask a question.

Clark, born with a condition that doesn’t allow him to pronate his wrists, uses an anchored long putter. He isn’t playing the Farmers Insurance Open this week but flew into San Diego to attend the meeting.

“There were a lot of questions, but it was surprising that most of the players who use anchored putters didn’t say anything,” one observer in the meeting said.

Stephanie Wei spoke with three players, who asked that their names not be used. She reports that the USGA presentation, and a discussion of anchoring and bifurcation, took up more than half of the two-hour meeting. Her three sources (Players "Albert, Bart and Cal") were representative of the three main positions that Tour players have taken on the ban -- adamantly opposed, in favor of and indifferent.

Albert summed up the opposition's stance: "It's about the actual governing of us as players. I'm not so sure that if PGA Tour members voted, anchoring would NOT be illegal. The real issue is, why do people the USGA Board of Directors, people who don't play golf professionally, get to make rules for guys that do? That's the main sentiment."

He continued: "The USGA has put Tim Finchem in a very interesting situation. He's basically going to decide — well, it's up to the PAC and board of directors to decide whether we accept this or say no. It's a proposed rule and the PGA Tour hasn't accepted every rule the USGA has put fort and this is no exception."

Player Bart was in favor of the ban and disagreed with the idea that the Tour should consider going its own way: "In my opinion, the height of arrogance is thinking the Rules of Golf should be tailored to us (Tour pros). The beauty of golf as an individual game is that everyone plays by the rules. Guys are asking, why do we play by THEIR rules? That’s arrogant to me. One of the guys who talked a lot admitted, 'Yeah i am looking out for No. 1, I’m looking out for me.'"

Player Cal, the indifferent one, summed it up succinctly: "I really just don't care… because I'm a good putter."

After talking to her sources, Wei concludes that PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem is in favor of approving the ruling, and she seems to suspect that the Tour will adopt it despite all the debate.  Finchem is expected to talk more about the meeting during his press conference on Wednesday.

(Photo: Chris Condon/Getty Images)

November 28, 2012

PGA of America members oppose belly-putter ban; PGA Tour to review in March

Posted at 1:44 PM by Mike Walker

Keegan Bradley won the 2011 PGA Championship at East Lake in Atlanta with an anchored putter. (Robert Beck/SI)

In a recent survey, two-thirds of PGA of America members said they were against banning anchored putters due to concerns over the ban's effect on the growth of the game and the lack of any data to suggest that anchoring is an advantage.

The PGA of America, which represents more than 27,000 teaching professionals and hosts the PGA Championship, shared the results of the survey in a letter to USGA Executive Director Mike Davis and USGA President Glen Nager. Davis announced the USGA's proposed ban on anchored putters in a joint teleconference with R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson on Wednesday morning.

"We believe that golf is the greatest of all games," the PGA of America's letter stated. "We also believe that we need to continue to do what is necessary to preserve all that makes it unique and, consistent with our mission, take actions to grow the game. Therefore, as you near decisions regarding a potential ban on anchoring, we wanted to be sure that you were aware of the polling results as our PGA members are truly the tangible connection between the game and its participants.

"As Mike mentioned in his presentation to us at our PGA Annual Meeting in Baltimore earlier this month, there does not appear to be any data that suggests that anchoring a golf club results in an unfair competitive advantage. In the absence of such data and based on the polling of our PGA members and all of the exciting progress the industry has made through Golf 2.0 and other related initiatives to make the game more fun and, quite frankly, more enjoyable and welcoming to a broader and more diverse audience, we respectfully ask you to consider our concerns."

The PGA of America is not affiliated with the PGA Tour, which issued its own statement on the ban Wednesday:

"While the USGA and The R&A have kept us updated on this proposed rule change, we only recently have been able to review the final language and have not until now had the opportunity to share it with our Policy Board and membership," the PGA Tour's statement said. "As with any rule change, we will go through our normal process of evaluating the potential impact this will have to all our constituents. It will be discussed at our next annual player meeting on Jan. 22 in San Diego, and it is anticipated that it will be reviewed by our Policy Board during its March meeting. During this review process, we will provide periodic updates to our stakeholders."

Davis said Wednesday that the PGA of America, the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour are all consulting members of the USGA's Rules of Golf committee and were involved in the discussions about anchored putters, although he declined to say whether PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem agreed with the ban.

"I think it would be fair to say this question would be better answered by Tim himself or a member of the Policy Board, but certainly the Tour is aware of what's going on and they have a process they have to go through," Davis said.

The LPGA Tour put out its own brief statement Wednesday, saying the women's tour has always followed the USGA's rules:

“The LPGA has consistently conducted our official events in accordance with the Rules of Golf as defined by the USGA and the R&A. We certainly respect golf’s governing bodies and their long-standing desire to protect and promote the best interests of the game.

“The proposed new Rule 14-1b prohibiting ‘anchoring the club’ in making a stroke is not yet final and the LPGA will wait with interest while the USGA and R&A consider further comments and suggestions from the golf community.

“In the meantime, we will continue to discuss this proposed change with our players and provide our input and thoughts directly to the USGA and R&A.”

The European Tour is a member of the R&A's Rules of Golf committee. The USGA is the governing body for golf in the United States and Mexico; the R&A is the governing body for the rest of the world. Speaking for the R&A, Dawson said the European Tour is expected to adapt the rule change without any issue, and recalled a saying of former European Tour official Ken Shofield.

"When he was executive director of the European Tour, he said the European Tour are rules followers, not rules makers," Dawson said. "I think from some remarks attributed over the past two or three days to George O'Grady, that sentiment lives on on the European Tour."

October 18, 2012

Truth & Rumors: USGA starts to sell PGA Tour players on belly-putter ban

Posted at 11:24 AM by Mark Dee

When it comes to belly putters, it appears a decision has been made. That's why USGA Executive Director Mike Davis has already started his sales pitch.

According to Alex Miceli of Golfweek, Davis spoke before the PGA Tour Policy Board in advance of the McGladrey Classic on Monday during the body's final meeting of 2012. The goal: Start to sell the belly-ban, which players in attendance believe is a done deal.

And while Davis seemed confident in his decision, many players seemed skeptical. Miceli couldn't reach Davis for comment, but players spoke up, including the Ryder Cup captain, Davis Love:

According to Goydos, Davis’ presentation indicated that the USGA has received overwhelming support in letters and e-mails from the general public to ban anchoring. Davis Love III, a Sea Island resident and the recent Ryder Cup captain, expects a different sentiment from the Tour's rank and file.

“I would be concerned if I was them because you've got a bunch of guys that are going to want to fight it,” Love said. “Not the Tour but the players individually – a bunch of players that aren't going to like it.”

Well, according to Miceli's description of Davis's reason for the anchoring ban, it's easy to see the shape attacks will take:

Davis told the Policy Board that any rule change would not be because of a competitive advantage with the stroke and would be made to address the perception about how the game should be played.

Put another way, there is no empirical or statistical evidence to prove that a player using the anchoring stroke and a long putter has an advantage over a player using a traditional-length putter. The USGA just doesn’t like the way it looks.

Miceli reported that three Policy Board members -- Jim Furyk, Paul Goydos and Love -- believe the official announcement could come in March.

(RELATED PHOTOS: Belly Putters for 2012

February 25, 2010

Daily Flogging: Olympic Club tweaks for '12 Open

Posted at 11:57 AM by Gary Van Sickle

There's snow on the ground at Augusta National and no sign of Tiger Woods playing in the immediate future, so naturally your thoughts turn to... the 2012 U.S. Open at San Francisco's stately Olympic Club?

It's the fault of Ron Kroichick of the San Franisco Chronicle, who's got the inside scoop on how Mike Davis of the USGA is going to set up the course. Davis continues to prove that he's the best thing to happen to the USGA since starched shirts.

Kroichick writes that Davis plans several significant and intriguing changes, including turning the opening hole from an easy par 5 into a long par 4, the 17th into a short risk-reward par 5 (it was played as a bad par 4 in the '98 U.S. Open, where balls rolled out of the fairway) and the 16th hole as a monster par 5 of 650 yards.

"He (Davis) sees things a lot of people don't see," said Pat Murphy, Olympic's green committee chairman.

The Lake Course already had undergone a significant transformation. Club officials replaced all the greens (out with poa annua, in with bentgrass), restored slope to the putting surface at No. 18 (site of much debate in '98) and rebuilt No. 8, the par-3 climbing toward the clubhouse. That work was completed in May 2009.

So how to arrange the course on the scorecard fell to Davis... who is not instinctively lengthening No. 17. The club will build a new tee at only 505 yards, left of the current championship tee, forcing players to hit their drives at an awkward angle and making it harder to hold the fairway. Plus, the green will be severe and the right side will be shaved so wayward approach shots tumble down the slope. Or, put another way: Go for it in two at your own peril.

"The idea is to build a tee short enough that even the average-length player can get there in two shots," Davis said. "But that hole plays into the wind and uphill, so 505 yards is effectively more like 545 to 550. ... We want to make it an interesting, treacherous par 5."

So the Lake Course at Olympic will be par 70 --34 on the front and 36 on the back, and at 7,170 yards, it will play almost 400 yards longer than when Lee Janzen won the Open there in '98. It's interesting that the 18th green's slope was restored--that's where Payne Stewart hit a putt to the edge of the cup and watched it roll back to his feet, a controversial pin placement that Davis's predecessor, Tom Meeks, later admitted was a mistake.

June 21, 2009

USGA's Mike Davis lays out plan to complete U.S. Open at Bethpage Black

Posted at 10:01 AM by David Dusek

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — The U.S. Open is not going to finish on Sunday. After rain stopped Saturday evening's play and more rain fell overnight, the USGA pushed Sunday's restart time from 7:30 a.m. to noon.

Mike Davis, the USGA's senior director of rules and competitions, said the USGA decided to delay Sunday's restart because of the possibility of another heavy shower this morning in the Farmingdale area.

"Why bring the players in when there is a very good chance that we'd have to pull them off again?" Davis said.

If the weather cooperates, the third round will be completed around 4:30 local time. Players will then be re-paired for the fourth round, which is expected to begin at 5:30, with groups starting from the first and 10th tees. Davis said the final group would tee off around 7:20.

The reason for the hour delay between rounds is logistical. "There is a 25-minute shuttle ride involved in getting the players to No. 10 tee," Davis said. "So we think it would be blatantly unfair to the player, immediately coming out of the scoring tent, to be told, 'Go run and get on the shuttle to make your next tee time.' "

If the skies remain overcast, which is expected, then the USGA hopes play can continue until about 7:55 or 8 p.m. If the sun comes out, play could continue until 8:15 or 8:20, according to Davis.

The fourth round will resume on Monday morning, but specific times have yet to be determined.

"If we start at 5:30 [Sunday], there's about six hours of golf per wave, you're realistically only going to get about two to two-and-a-half hours of golf in," Davis said. "That's going to leave you about three and a half hours to go to finish up round four [on Monday]. So we'll finish before noon tomorrow, assuming that we don't get thrown something from Mother Nature that we're not expecting."

If there is a tie after the fourth round and a playoff is needed, it would start Monday afternoon if USGA officials were confident it could be finished before dark. If rain causes more delays tomorrow, a playoff could be pushed to Tuesday.

"If we are somehow delayed again tomorrow, we've already made the decision that if it got later than 3:45 or 4:00, we wouldn't start a playoff," Davis said. "The last thing we want is a playoff where they have to come back to play just one or two holes. That's just not the competitive situation that we want."

Based on the forecasts, however, Davis feels confident a playoff could be started and completed Monday afternoon.

Davis noted that Bethpage Black is draining well, and that light rain is not the problem. "Believe it or not, this course can keep handling this, as long as we don't get the downpours. The water is seeping down because it is a sandy, loam soil. So that's the great part. Believe me, if we were at some U.S. Open venues right now and this were happening, I can't even begin to think about what we'd be doing."

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