Reason Why USGA boss Mike Whan is right leader for this complex moment | GOLF Originals

Reason Why USGA boss Mike Whan is right leader for this complex moment | GOLF Originals


Our main goal, here at GOLF Originals, is to bring interesting people to you, dear viewer, without sitting our subject down in a clubhouse Windsor chair on a tartan carpet with a framed poster of the original 1745 Rules of Golf on a nearby wall. With those ground rules in mind, we brought David Feherty, golf broadcasting legend, to the Psychic Eye Bookstore in Las Vegas for our March premiere. A good time. We toured a giant sand pit in South Florida, a course under construction called Sandglass, with Tom Doak, the brilliant course architect, for our April show. Fun! And now, for our May edition, and right on time for the U.S. Open I (women) and U.S. Open II (men), comes Mike Whan, the USGA’s CEO. My colleague Darren Riehl, the producer of this series, and I joined Whan at a nine-hole, mom-and-pop golf course called Palm Valley, about 10 miles or so from TPC Sawgrass. Whan loved it. He was right at home, chatting up the course owner, Chris Hord, and his random playing partner, a retired schoolteacher named Louise. 

The distance between PVGC and the Stadium Course is far greater than 10 miles, using a sextant with a metaphorical bias. The weekday green fee at Palm Valley is $18. The course is 1,500 yards, all stretched out. A bad slice might hit a horse. And Mike Whan was having a good time.

That’s really the man in a nutshell, and why this show was such a pleasure to do with him. The CEO of the USGA loves playing golf, being on golf courses, talking to golf people. Whan can pretty much play any course he wants, hobnob with any course owner he wishes, play with whomever he chooses. The Palm Valley course suited him just fine and then some. But at the heart of the man is a public-course golfer who prefers a sleeve off the rack that comes with a bonus fourth ball.


Whan is a good golfer (he can break 80) with an athletic swing (he played football in high school and college). But when he push-shoved another shot into a murky PVGC pond, he said, “I’ll stop at the pro shop on 6 to buy more balls.” The USGA boss does not take himself too seriously! This is an outstanding development.

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