This part got my attention, not only because once again is new CBO Pete Bevacqua running the show (where's Executive Director David Fay?), but what was said raises a question I suspect many have been pondering:
Bevacqua and Mike Butz, the USGA's deputy executive director, attended a mid-December membership meeting at Winged Foot, where the club's objections were initially raised. "The message we heard over and over at the meeting and since the meeting is that even if Winged Foot decided not to issue an invitation for 2015, an invitation to the USGA [would be welcomed] in the future. The relationship between the USGA and Winged Foot is very, very strong."Yes, booing and hissing would have been out of the question, even in Westchester County.
Horan agreed. "It was not contentious," he said of the meeting, adding that Bevacqua and Butz received applause at the end of their presentation.
"We have a diverse membership at this club. Some of our members who love the East course are just saying, 'Can't we wait a few more years?' Even among the most dissident [members], it was not an issue of not having an Open at Winged Foot. It was an issue of deferring [the invitation].''Now, just a few years ago, the greater New York area had four prominent Open-worthy venues: Baltusrol, Winged Foot, Shinnecock Hills and Bethpage.
Bevacqua also pointed out that Winged Foot in 2015 was not a done deal, and that there are other clubs who can't wait to get in the rota. "The Open is in a pretty good spot," he said.
We know that Baltusrol, for the time being, is a PGA of America venue with a not particularly strong sense of devotion to the USGA.
Winged Foot is out for some time based on the recent news.
Shinnecock Hills can't be very secure with the Executive Director (albeit one looking more and more powerless by the day) continues to assert that masked men rolled the 7th green in the "middle of the night," presumably at the behest of Shinnecock members. It's hard to imagine an Open going back there until this little mystery is resolved, but the Executive Director has yet to offer up any evidence that this did occur, and if it did, that the USGA and the club have resolved this rather significant conflict.
And then there's Bethpage. Set for 2009, the course is seemingly in great shape to host many U.S. Open's down the line. However, two variables make the relationship tenuous. The first is unpredictable new governor Elliot Spitzer, a tennis nut who may not be like George Pataki when it comes doing "whatever it takes" to keep the USGA happy. The other wildcard is Craig Currier, the Bethpage superintendent who has held the place together and who can only stay there so long before a club makes him an offer he would be nuts to refuse.
So the question is, has the USGA been unlucky in seeing its 4 New York star venues whittled down, or do they share the blame with excessive negotiating stances, poor communication skills and other assorted oddball behavior?