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UNITED STATES GOLF ASSOCIATION MEDIA CONFERENCE


March 18, 2014


Mike Davis

Thomas O'Toole, Jr.


PETE KOWALSKI:テつ Thank you for joining us today.テつ We've got Tom O'Toole, president of the United States Golf Association, and Mike Davis, our executive director, for some comments.テつ Tom, we'll leave it to you to start off.
TOM O'TOOLE:テつ Thanks, all, for joining.テつ We could not be more excited about the anticipated announcement which will occur later today.テつ In light of that, let me start with some thank‑yous and I'll hit a couple high points about the United States Open Championship and what it means to return to Torrey Pines.
But certainly we want to be thankful and appreciative of the city of San Diego and the Torrey Pines golf course.テつ We created and cultivated these relationships leading into and of course culminating with the 2008 U.S. Open Championship, which is arguably one of the most exciting in USGA history, and that championship paved the way for the relationships that caused us to enter into an agreement and except an invitation to return there.テつ Those are relationships, again, with the city and of course the great golf course Torrey Pines, also a number of community‑driven groups, friends of Torrey Pines, that led an initiative in 2008.テつ There's other civic leaders that were involved in it this time around.テつ We've got important partnerships, of course, with the Lodge at Torrey Pines and the Hilton there just adjacent to the property, and of course finally the University of California at San Diego.
All those played an important part in being able to put this puzzle back together, and it will be culminated again with the announcement later today to return there.
So special thanks to that group.テつ We absolutely could not have been able to get to this point without the contribution by all of them.
Just for this learned group's information and much like you are aware of what the economic impact of our U.S. Open is, suffice it to say that we estimate these numbers arguably could go up between now and 2021, and the economic impact to the San Diego community is in excess of $140 million, significant when you talk about the production of the U.S. Open and how big of an extravaganza it is.テつ It has a significant impact on a community.テつ The USGA will directly ourselves contribute almost $18 million of direct expenses in connection with putting on that production, so a major infusion, again, into the San Diego economy.
Volunteers, it's always an important part of our production at the U.S. Open.テつ As we did in 2008, we expect more than 5,000 volunteers to serve on probably 25 or so committees to produce the operations and the production of the U.S. Open, many thousands and thousands of manhours that it takes.テつ As we say in our USGA mantra many times, we just simply could not do it without the contribution by this great group and the group that follows Open to Open, year to year, to come and help contribute with the production of it is‑‑ it's an invaluable group to us.テつ And again, in 2008 many of those people will be made up from the San Diego community but also many, many volunteers that travel across the country to help us in our production of our national championship.
Finally, I think the final point before we get to some comments from Mike about the golf course and any questions you might have is, again, this focuses in on our strategic priority, which is making the game more accessible.テつ Those of you that read my remarks from Pinehurst, it's certainly an important strategic initiative of the USGA to be able to bring the U.S. Open back to a public facility, certainly supports that initiative.テつ When you think about where we've been since‑‑ we started with a couple of resorts where we had public access that we conducted the U.S. Open Championship several times, but after Bethpage in 2002, this has been a real focus by the organization, and just think between now and 2021, four times, of course this year at Pinehurst, next year at Chambers Bay, and 2017 at Erin Hills and of course back in Pebble Beach in 2019, we will conduct those at publicly accessible facilities.テつ I think that speaks volumes about where the USGA is and where our vision is looking forward, so to be able to come back here and go to a municipally‑owned golf course and conduct the U.S. Open in southern California again is a real treat for us.
Of course finally, we've got great partnerships in public golf in a lot of endeavors with our state and regional golf associations.テつ The Southern California Golf Association led by Kevin Haney is certainly one of the premier state and regional golf associations in the U.S., and they've been a great supporter of the USGA and they will be a critical part in making the U.S. Open a success in 2021.
I again, I know I speak for our entire executive committee.テつ Mike will speak on behalf of the staff, but we could not be any more excited about the concept of returning the U.S. Open to southern California and then again back to Torrey Pines Golf Course, which again in 2008 saw one of the most historic and most exciting finishes in U.S. Open history.
With that, I'll conclude my remarks and be glad to answer any questions about the process part of it.テつ I think golf course questions, of course, ought to be directed to Mike, who's our leader and certainly the one who's made the biggest impact on our golf course setup and our U.S. Open inside the ropes since he took over in 2006.

Q.テつ Mike, there was some‑‑ I don't know if this was locker room talk or if it was just some folks in San Diego that we may be talking about a composite golf course this time.テつ Any truth to that, or are we going to stick with the original course?
MIKE DAVIS:テつ You know, I got that question myself.テつ It's intriguing just given the fact that I know the North Course is going to be redone, but when we selected this site, we really did it with the idea that we would be focused on the South Course.テつ But having said that, I don't think we would necessarily right now tell you with 100 percent certainty we won't do a composite, but again, I would say that we went into this really thinking that we were going to‑‑ it was a repeat on the South Course.

Q.テつ Mike, how much work do you expect needs to be done on the South compared to the last time you were there?テつ And secondly, I think it's the city that said yesterday that they need to pay for a practice facility.テつ Do you anticipate that being the case?
MIKE DAVIS:テつ On the first point, it's interesting, it had been a little while since I had been at Torrey Pines, and over the last couple years, I've actually had the chance to walk the course a couple times.テつ It hasn't really changed dramatically.テつ In fact, I would say that agronomically I was really impressed with the condition of the greens.テつ I can remember thinking back to 2006‑2007 that it really wasn't until going into that late fall of 2007 where we really felt we had the golf course in a condition that would be, we felt, good for the U.S. Open.
It's interesting, one of the things that I found walking the golf course is it's actually become a narrower golf course since the U.S. Open.テつ I think one of the things we would do is widen out the fairways a little bit, and there's several cases where some of the roughs are covering up the fairway bunkers.テつ So I think it's minor little tweaks like that.テつ But I really don't foresee any big things being done.テつ Probably a few agronomic things here and there; a couple of the collars have gotten maybe a little raised because of just some of the maintenance practices with topdressing and so on, but not much at all.
I think for us it's a golf course that there's a lot of flexibility to that golf course given the length, and I think one of the real appealing things about going to Torrey Pines is that while we can't dictate or know with certainty what the weather is going to be, you almost know within certainty that you're going‑‑ when you're going to coastal California, you're going to get firm conditions.テつ So in other words, it allows us to dial in the condition.テつ And the other element is when you're on the coast you always get a little bit of wind, and I think firmness and wind are the two aspects of the game when it's played at the highest level which really brings out great shot making and course management.テつ With firmness you've got to think about what happens when your ball lands, and with wind, it's not just having 178 yards and pulling out the club you hit 178 yards.テつ You may have to flight the ball a certain way.
So I think from a test of golf standpoint, all those things really make Torrey Pines a very solid test of golf for the Open.

Q.テつ Just wanted to ask you two questions:テつ The first is with the final result in 2008, what factor does that have in the USGA determining whether the tournament was a success or not?テつ Having Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate going to a playoff on Monday, one sort of for the ages, does that help in considering it a successful tournament?テつ And the second part, unrelated, is is there more of an allure for the USGA to go to the West Coast and continue going to the West Coast to have that East Coast primetime audience for television ratings?
MIKE DAVIS:テつ Well, I'll answer the second question first.テつ You know, for those of viewers in the United States, when we go west, it is a wonderful thing because as you rightly point out, you do get that primetime.テつ But I will tell you, our viewers over in Europe aren't so keen about that idea.テつ And I'm not sure we've quite figured out Australia, Asia, because when we go West Coast, whether they have to get up at the crack of dawn or‑‑ it depends on your point of view on whether that's good or not, but certainly from a domestic standpoint we just get a bigger audience when we go west.
In terms of 2008, looking back, I do think when you look at that, you had Tiger Woods, which was the best player at the time, and then you had that side story about him playing on essentially a broken leg.テつ Then you've got somebody much older than him in Rocco Mediate who just plays a different game.テつ And I think that when you look at the drama that was created back then and you look at how the course tested all parts of the game, yet it didn't necessarily favor one type of game, that is absolutely things we look at.
But I do think that each U.S. Open course we go to certainly can be influenced by weather.テつ There are certain courses for certain horses, so to speak.テつ Just this year at Pinehurst, I think it's going to tend to be maybe a longer ball hitter that hits the ball very high coming into those tiny greens.テつ I think at Torrey Pines, you've got to be able to control and flight your ball well because you know it's going to be firm conditions and you know you're going to get some breeze.
So it's just different, but when we look back on 2008, I think one of the things we all talked about is how can we possibly top that.テつ From my perspective that was one of the great U.S. Opens ever.テつ Whether it rivals, say, 1913 or 1960 or some of the other great U.S. Opens we've had, history will eventually, I guess, tell that story.テつ But it was a great Open.

Q.テつ Can you promise today that if Tiger is not eligible he'll get an invitation?
MIKE DAVIS:テつ That's a good question.テつ Thankfully that's for the championship committee to decide.テつ But no‑‑ I'm trying to think, 2021, how old would Tiger be at that point?

Q.テつ 45.
MIKE DAVIS:テつ Well, in theory he gets‑‑ well, we'll see.テつ As I say, I don't have to make a vote on that one.

Q.テつ I'm curious, what are the dynamics of the U.S. Open venues in which you take a U.S.Amateur there ahead of it, like Pebble?テつ What besides that, and does that ever enter the equation with Torrey or is it strictly a U.S. Open in San Diego?
MIKE DAVIS:テつ Yeah, good question.テつ We've done‑‑ this goes back a good 15 years, where the championship committee decided that it would be really in the best‑‑ would make the U.S.Amateur in theory maybe even a little more exciting if we took it to U.S. Open venues.テつ Being an amateur, you think, geez, I get to go play this U.S. Open course.テつ We very much set them up the same way for the U.S.Amateur.テつ But it's also given us an opportunity to play that championship when we're taking a U.S. Open that hasn't been played there before.テつ A Chambers Bay, an Erin Hills, it gives us a chance to kind of watch the course with players who essentially hit the ball the same way as the best professionals in the world but just aren't professionals yet.
But in Torrey Pines' case, you know, it's hosted our Amateur Public Links championship before, but because it hosts the Farmers every year, I think that it‑‑ I don't want to speak for Torrey Pines and the city, but you only‑‑ most places only want to hold big events every so often.テつ I don't think we ever went into it saying we'd really like to hold an Amateur there before the Open because I think we've got a good sense of how the Open will play.

Q.テつ Mike, I've got a question about weather, and while it's impossible to predict the weather seven years out, I can almost guarantee you that June in San Diego you're not going to get any rain and you're going to get the June gloom.テつ Was that a consideration, and what were your thought processes in terms of going back there?
MIKE DAVIS:テつ I can't tell you how often we talk about in meetings that if you can take a championship to a place that for the most part weather‑wise you know you're going to get good weather, how much that can add to a championship.テつ We also talk about taking a championship to courses that are built on sand, because if you do ‑‑ and this year at Pinehurst is a good example, that if we get a rain event, it may set us back 24 hours, 36 hours, but sometimes if you're on soils you can get a rain event and you never can dry the course out for four days.
So I think the doom and gloom part, my hunch would be that we'll probably get a little bit of sunshine, but even if we don't we're okay with that.テつ With that June gloom like we would get at the Olympic Club or at Pebble Beach, it doesn't really affect the golf course, and you still get a little wind with it.
I think weather‑wise the only thing that we could be up against would be if it really, truly fogs us in, but that doesn't affect the golf course, it just delays the event.
PETE KOWALSKI:テつ Mike and Tom, we appreciate your time, and folks who have joined, we appreciate it, as well.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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