June 16, 2004
SHINNECOCK HILLS, NEW YORK
RAND JERRIS: Good morning, I'd like to introduce the three gentlemen on stage with me, Walter Driver, vice-president of the United States Golf Association, and the Chairman of the Championship Committee, and Fred Ridley, President of the USGA and David Fay on the far right, Executive Director of the USGA. Mr. Ridley will begin the meeting.
FRED RIDLEY: Thank you, Rand, I would like to welcome all of you officially to the 104th U.S. Open, and on behalf of everyone at the USGA, to thank each and every one of you for your support. We have over a thousand members of the press here from over 20 countries, and again we'd like to thank you for everything you do to get the -- everything that goes on at the Open Championship out to the public around the world. I would like to recognize a couple of people involved here at Shinnecock Hills that have really provided great leadership in working with the staff and executive committee of the USGA, Craig Leonard, president of the club; Jack Norman; Craig Deger, the club manager, and Mark Michaud, the head superintendent.
All of you who have been on the golf course will agree this is possibly one of the best condition U.S. Open sites that we've ever had, and we thank Mark and his staff for that. After the press conference today if any of you have any other questions you'd like to ask, in addition to the three of us, I believe that Tom Meeks and Tim Moraghan are here in the room who can provide any additional information about the golf course with respect to any operational issues, and we have Dick Rugge, our senior director of equipment standards.
So with that, I would like to introduce Walter Driver, who is the chair of the championship committee, who has an announcement and then we'll turn it over for announcements.
WALTER DRIVER: We'll start with a special announcement.
We're very pleased to announce today that the 2010 U.S. Open will be hosted at the Pebble beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach. It's one of our very favorite place, we have representatives from.
Pebble Beach led by Paul Spengler today. We're going back to Pebble Beach in 2010. It's a great combination of Pebble Beach and the United States Golf Association. We're happy to be here and happy to be able to make this announcement. Also Pebble Beach has expressed interest in hosting a U.S. Women's Open at Pebble Beach. So we're looking forward to having two events at Pebble Beach. You may recall the year before the last open at Pebble Beach they hosted the U.S. Amateur championship. It's a great venue and one that's special to all participants that were fortunate enough to play in those championships.
Q. Players all week have been complimenting the course. They have many good things to say about it. In an odd way does that worry you a little bit that they're not complaining?
DAVID FAY: No, it doesn't worry me. I think given the strength of this golf course, and just how outstanding it is, they're right to comment, and I think that's a tribute to the setup and a tribute to the golf course.
Q. I was wondering, we're in the midst of four U.S. Opens in eight years in the New York area; I was wondering if the USGA was concerned at all about the perception of the so-called east coast or New York bias and how much of a bias it is to take the Open to other regions?
WALTER DRIVER: We're not concerned about it. We were in your area in Chicago last year; we'll be in the West Coast the next two years, and we try to move it around to excellent golf courses around the United States. There is a concentration in the next couple of years, but overall in the history we move it around pretty well.
Q. A number of players over the years, and again recently have talked about the equipment and golf ball; I'm wondering if somebody could give us a summation on where the USGA is now, particularly on the golf ball in terms of pulling it back or making a standard ball in this event?
FRED RIDLEY: Walter is our immediate past president of the equipment committee.
WALTER DRIVER: As you recall in 2002 we released a statement of principles that governs our action with respect to equipment and issues related to the golf ball. This was also adopted by the R&A, and the next year also adopted by the PGA TOUR. And that is the standard statement of principles that we live by. And we continue to study these issues very carefully. We have a lot of research going on. As I said at the annual meeting in Orlando, we have no current plans to change the specifications for the ball. We have a new ball test. The actual distance on the Tour this year appears to be slightly down over last year. We're going to study it and make very informed rules. But we have nothing on the agenda now that would cause a change in ball performance?
Q. Could you speak to your desire to continue to hold national championships at municipal golf courses? Bethpage is obviously a success; could you speak to your desire to do that and perhaps the lack of municipal golf courses that can truly host a national championship?
DAVID FAY: I think what happened at Bethpage was very good and I believe if you speak to the people on the Torrey Pines, our announcement of Bethpage inspired them to think they could hold a U.S. Open. I can't speak to the number of other municipal-owned golf courses that might be in that situation, but it shouldn't be regarded -- I believe it's good to introduce these municipal-owned, these muni-courses into the U.S. Open, but that doesn't mean we're going to turn our backs on great traditional golf courses such as Pebble beach, Shinnecock Hills, Oakmont, and on Winged Foot?
Q. The last time the U.S. Open was held on a course that wasn't built before 1950 or 1960, I don't know when. What are your thoughts on that, it's great to go back to old established courses; what are the chances and what has been the interests in some of the new designs for the last five, ten years?
DAVID FAY: I can hear. There's no doubt there have been a number of fine courses that have been built. The PGA Championship will be played at one later this summer. There have been a number of fine courses that have been built since Jimmy Carter was president. And I don't believe that the USGA -- matter of fact, I know would not disqualify a golf course because of its relative youth. There was a time in the mid to late '60s when we did take the National Open to some courses that arguably might not have been mature enough. And have since become very good golf courses, one of those was Belle Rive. We're taking the Senior Open there this year. But we're not discriminating against newer golf courses, and we're always open-minded to taking our championship there. But as Walter announced we're only out through 2010.
Q. Some of the players think long putters should not be legal, I want to know what you think about it?
FRED RIDLEY: As a former user of a belly putter, I'll answer that question. Certainly there's been and has been some conversation about long putters and a belly putter. I know it's come up this week, and I anticipated that that conversation and dialogue would continue. I think the bottom line is you still have to get the ball in the hole with the putter regardless of its dimension, and it's not an easy task. We do not have any agenda item with respect to taking action with long putters or belly putters at this time. It is something that we discuss. To my knowledge I think that's an accurate question.
Q. The issue -- Business Week raised the issue again last week on the subject of Fred and I think Walter as well, members at Augusta National and serving in the top offices of the USGA, an organization that is meant to grow the game of boys and girls, and in a club that does not allow women as members. How can you justify your membership in that club, considering what the membership in the USGA is?
FRED RIDLEY: I have talked quite a bit about that issue, as you know, particularly in the wake of our annual meeting. I went in as president. I really don't think it would be useful today that we hash all that out. I really don't have anything to add to what I said in the past. There's really nothing new to say. The only thing I would say is USGA has terrific programs and support, all golfers, including women golfers, young girls, the USGA golf program is just a wonderful program. My feeling is that really is an important issue and my role as president in USGA, that's what I said before, and I don't have really anything to add to that.
WALTER DRIVER: Nothing?
RAND JERRIS: If there are no more questions, we'll thank Walter and Fred and David for their time. Thank you.
End of FastScripts.