Golfweek's Jim Achenbach profiles new USGA President Jim Vernon and does a nice job capturing his personality along with grabbing a few decent quotes out of him. I can tell you from firsthand experience that's not easy!
First, this from the SCGA's Kevin Heaney.
“He listens to ordinary guys,” Heaney says. “He listens to upper-echelon guys. He listens to everybody. He is never rash, always very clear-headed. He doesn’t jump to any decision.
“More than that, he works hard. He likes working. When he gets involved in anything, he doesn’t do it halfheartedly. He’s engaged. And he has a great sense of humor, so he’s fun to be with.”
This was interesting...
Still, Vernon takes over the presidency at a time of wrangling and arm wrestling among many USGA power brokers.
USGA presidents generally serve two one-year terms, so Vernon has 24 months to endorse, amend, abolish or improve some of the policies of his predecessor, Walter Driver Jr.
While controversy followed Driver, Vernon is expected to operate more quietly and smoothly.
“I get the impression,” says one longtime USGA staffer, “that he would be happy if no attention at all fell on him. He doesn’t need it; he’s very comfortable with himself.”
Nice to hear a dissenter in the golf world going public about the USGA's corporate partners:
The addition of corporate sponsorships has drawn fire from many, including California Golf Association president Ed Holmes, who says the USGA has strayed too far from the game itself.
“We have the greatest game on earth, and we’re trying to turn it into a big business,” Holmes says. He spoke without anger but with a tone of incredulity. “Does that make sense?” he asks.
Okay, so he's not perfect...
Here’s what is known: Vernon praises Driver at every opportunity. He doesn’t believe in contrasting public stances for golf’s ruling body.
Vernon says he will continue Driver’s emphasis on digital media and communication. He credits Driver for implementing the USGA’s policy on corporate partners. He plans to concentrate on the USGA’s public face, particularly through the expanded museum at USGA headquarters in Far Hills, N.J. He says he will seek greater recognition for state and regional golf associations around the country.
Nice to know the ball study hasn't gone the way of optimization...yet:
On the distance of the golf ball, for example, he says: “Reining back the distance of the ball? I still think that’s an open question. I’m not sure it would translate into an increased population in the game or a decreased population.”