In a column title "Hypocrisy in the USGA," The Washington Post's Leonard Shapiro lets us know he's not a fan of the USGA and its outgoing President, Walter Driver.
Last week at the U.S. Open, once again we got to see that adorable little boy playing golf all by his lonesome, carrying his own canvas bag and making his hole in one late in the day seemingly with no one around, save for the friendly greens keeper, the only witness to the momentous event. In the end the kid springs for a can of soda for both of them in the fading light of day.Oh by Len, look at that picture of diversity! Study that natural body language!
They repeated that rainy day at the golf course spot as well, featuring the eternal optimist golfer sitting out what looks to be the storm of the century in a ramshackle course shelter, hoping that it might let up just enough to let him finish his round. And once again they showed the "I Swing Like a Girl" PSA that ends with the message, underneath a USGA logo, "Proud to Support Women's Golf."
That last one always gives me great pause, mostly because I know who runs the USGA these days, and they think nothing of being members of restrictive golf clubs that do not allow women to join.
The current president of the USGA is Walter Driver, a lawyer who lives in Atlanta and is a member of Augusta National and Pine Valley in New Jersey, neither of which have any women members. And for the perfect trifecta of discriminatory policies, he also pays dues at Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta, which has no black members the last time I checked.
Driver's predecessor, Fred Ridley, a former U.S. Amateur champion and Florida attorney, also was a member of Augusta National. Several other previous and current high ranking officers and members of the executive committee also have belonged to restrictive clubs.
Look, it's a free country. You want to join a private club, you certainly have that right. But please don't take a position of great authority and influence in what is supposed to be a very public organization and insist it's none of our business where you pay your dues.
David Fay, the executive director of the USGA, actually resigned his membership at Pine Valley several years ago because of its restrictions on women members, a very appropriate and significant step made by a very honorable guy. But Fay, sadly, has no control over the organization's officers and committee members, and they run the place as if it is their own personal fiefdom.
Still, the last time I looked, the USGA's main missions include growing the sport around the country and trying to make the game look like the diverse face of America, rather than a portrait of big money corporate USA.
Whenever you broach the subject to some of these USGA muckety-mucks, as I did to Driver a few years ago, they keep insisting that their private club memberships are their own business and no one else's business and they have no bearing on how they conduct their duties with the USGA. They also insist they serve as volunteers in the organization, even spending money out of their own pockets, so their private lives should not be subject to any scrutiny, particularly when it comes to their club affiliations.
I found it ironic that Driver once headed Atlanta's largest and most prestigious law firm, King and Spaulding, which boasted on its web site of its efforts to diversify the firm, with photographs of several African American associates prominently displayed to prove it. And yet, here was Walter Driver belonging to a club in the same city, Peachtree, that wouldn't even allow those associates to join and play on the same golf course with him.
Judging from a recent profile in Golf World, Driver may be among the most reviled USGA presidents in history for his imperious reign over the last two years. The story indicated that morale among the paid staff at Golf House in Far Hills, N.J., may be at an all-time low under Driver's so-called leadership. A number of important and long-time employee benefits, including a college scholarship plan for children of USGA staffers, have been either curtailed or severely cut back at an organization that is literally awash in millions from their television rights fee and other sponsorship deals.
Over the last few years, a number of those staff members have told me privately that they are truly embarrassed by Driver's club affiliations and can hardly wait until the day he becomes the organization's ex-president.
Uh oh...the head hunt's about to get nastier.
Still, the good news is that more and more print media outlets are starting pay attention, though it seemed strange that Golf World's profile of Driver didn't touch on his discriminatory club selections.
But New York Times columnist Selena Roberts, commenting on Driver's triple-play memberships this past weekend, wrote "Why join one cabal of bias when you can learn secret handshakes at all three?"
Driver, of course, never responded to her for the story,
Frankly, I'm shocked...
At the end of the day, the USGA is not all that concerned about little boys making a hole-in-one. It makes you wonder how proud they really are to support women's golf, as well.
Len you are so wrong. They support women's golf despite the fact that their championships lose money. That's not easy for a corporation to do.