"To USGA critics, I have a message: Give the USGA a break."

Jim Achenbach gets in the holiday spirit of giving and bathes the USGA in praise for going to public venues with its championships as a sign that the organization is working for the good of the game.

I saw the USGA take definitive steps (along with the PGA of America) to promote the game and help assure its future growth. When the USGA was founded in 1895, its charter was all about making rules and conducting championships. Boosting and elevating the game weren’t even on the table. Now, thanks to Fay and Davis, the USGA has decided to lend its influence to the development of golf in general and public golf in particular.

In the arena of public golf, I traveled to Bandon Dunes Golf Resort for the U.S. Public Links Championship, an event that is thriving. In many ways, the future of golf is linked to courses that are open to the public. The two A words -- affordability and accessibility -- must be part of the formula to cultivate new players and new enthusiasm for the sport.

To USGA critics, I have a message: Give the USGA a break.

Unfortunately the public golf Achenbach cites as a definitive step in a positive direction is far, far removed from the public golf that matters to golfers.

If the USGA really cared about true public golf, there would be a rush to drop everything they are doing--even the eight years and counting ball study--to be coming to the defense of Sharp Park and the potentially disastrous precedent that could be set by closing this remarkable public course.

Just ask Achenbach's colleague, Bradley Klein who wrote yesterday:

Supporters of the golf course know that the Board of Supervisors’ measure would be tantamount to a death sentence, because the National Park Service has no interest in operating a daily-fee golf course. That leaves two options open: continued city management under revised terms; or allow San Mateo to step in and operate the golf course. There’s good reason to believe the county is interested in doing so. That would enable Sharp Park supporters to keep their golf course while pursuing funds for a proposed renovation that would upgrade the course and expand habitat for the species in question. But as the Board of Supervisors’ vote makes clear, the garter snake and frog aren’t the only things that need protection.

Out in the Bay Area and throughout the U.S., municipal golf also is an endangered species.