Golfweek's Bradley Klein confirms Chris Lewis's original report on the (cash strapped?!) USGA "eliminating" Tim Moraghan's "championship agronomist" position and includes the USGA memo.
Golfweek reached Moraghan via cell phone Thursday morning, but Moraghan said he was not able to comment on the story. USGA executive director David Fay sent an internal memo to USGA employees Thursday afternoon confirming Moraghan's departure at the end of this month. (see below)Steve Elling also reports on the move and suggests that USGA President Walter Driver was very much behind the firing.
Moraghan last worked the U.S. Open at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club two weeks ago, and would normally have been working at Pine Needles Resort for this week’s U.S. Women’s Open. USGA Green section staff agronomists have been recruited to provide coverage both for this week’s U.S. Women’s Open and next week’s U.S. Senior Open at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis.
Mike Davis, the USGA’s senior director, rules and competitions, declined to comment.
To: USGA Staff
From: David Fay
Date: June 28, 2007
Subject: Tim Moraghan’s Departure
Tim is departing the USGA at the end of the month. We thank Tim for his many years of service as the USGA’s Director, Championship Agronomy and wish him the best going forward.
For the last few years, our Regional Agronomists have served as the Championship Agronomists for our Amateur-only championships. We are extending this well-received practice to our three Open championships (Open, Women’s Open, and Senior Open) effective immediately.
cc: USGA Executive Committee
The friction between Moraghan and Driver apparently dates to the U.S. Open debacle at Shinnecock in 2004, when the seventh green became so dry and hard, players could not keep their golf balls on the putting surface. According to the USGA source, Driver, who was chairman of the championship committee that set up the course that year, placed much of the blame on Moraghan.
"He was looking for a scapegoat," the source said.
Various news outlets have been seeking comment from Moraghan this week, but he's so far remained mum. As for Driver, a high-powered attorney from Atlanta who is a member at three clubs that don't allow female members, the Moraghan scenario is the latest in a string of issues that have all but crushed morale among staffers at USGA headquarters in New Jersey.
Citing the organization's projected annual deficit, Driver earlier had pared back the USGA employee benefit plan and trimmed a college tuition program for the children of staffers.
David Fay, the executive director of the USGA, said Wednesday that Moraghan has not been fired, remains an employee of the USGA and is still the organization's championship agronomist. How long that seemingly semantic distinction holds true, however, is another issue.
That's our David!