USGA Executive Committee Changes

usga logo.gifThere were several surprises in the USGA's announced Executive Committee "nominations."

Most notably, James Reinhart, currently a vice president, big fan of Erin Hills and distance measuring devices and thought to be the next president, is retiring. That will end the streak of presidential Augusta National members at two, which if nothing else, gives David Fay a two-year reprieve from answering questions about having president's of male-only clubs.

Craig Ammerman, a big fan of this scribe's work, is also retiring. And Lew Blakey, considered one of the top rules authorities in the world and who was strongly in favor of making the rules of golf more user friendly, will be off the Committee starting in 2007. 

The other surprise is that being a venture capitalist seems to be the USGA's 21st Century answer to attorney-at-law.

The new members are: Christie Austin of Cherry Hills Village, Colo.; John Kim of Farmington, Conn.; and Geoffrey Yang of Menlo Park, Calif.  Their bios:

Austin, 49, executive vice president of Marsico Capital Management since 2003, has been involved in the last two USGA championships held at Cherry Hills Country Club in Cherry Hills Village. Most recently, she served as vice chairman of the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open at Cherry Hills. She also was registration chairman for the 2003 U.S. Senior Open at Cherry Hills. A member at Cherry Hills, she recently won her 11th Club championship. She also has qualified for seven U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur championships.   Professionally, Austin, a CPA, helped found MCM in 1997 and served as its chief financial officer for six years until 2003. Today, MCM has 70 employees and manages more than $75 billion in assets. Prior to 1997, she helped found Englewood Mortgage Company in 1987 with her husband, Bob.  They have two children, Michael and Julie.  She is a graduate of the University of Colorado.  

Kim, 46, has been president of Prudential Retirement (formerly CIGNA Retirement and Investments) since 2002, a leading plan provider that serves more than three million customers and manages roughly $140 billion in assets. The company has 2,500 employees.   A graduate of the University of Michigan (BBA) and the University of Connecticut (MBA), Kim is a chartered financial analyst who has been an industry leader since 1995, when he served as chief executive officer at Aeltus Investment Management. In 2001, he moved to the president and chief executive officer role of BondBook, LLC.   He and his wife, Diane, have three children: Andrew, Emily and Caroline.  

Yang, 47, is a founding partner and managing director of Redpoint Ventures, a family of early stage venture capital funds based in California’s Silicon Valley. He is responsible for the firm’s investments in new companies, such as Ask Jeeves, Excite, MySpace, TiVo, Foundry Networks and Juniper Networks. Prior to 1999, Yang was a general partner with Institutional Venture Partners for 12 years.   Born in New York, N.Y., Yang is a 1981 graduate of Princeton University. He earned a master’s degree in business from Stanford University in 1985. 

Yang was also involved in starting Golfweb according to one story. I'm not sure why that was left out of the release. 

A few things worth pointing out.

First, all three seem to be unusually wealthy with strong ties to corporate America. Not sure if that's a good thing.

Two of the new members are from the "west" and one from Connecticut, so they've made some progress on finding new blood from outside the Augusta-Hobe Sound circle of trust.  

All three are surprisingly young for the USGA, which might bode well for some outside-the-box thinking.

Not so encouraging is that once again, the USGA has not managed to find anyone who is a public course player. Or at least, someone who was a muni golfer in the last 20 years.