USGA Executive Director Mike Davis is now calling critics of the organization's TV deal announcement "clueless" even as he tells the Boston Globe's Michael Whitmer that the organization is taking the "high road" by accepting the inevitable punches that would come with the deal's terribly timed announcement.
“If the golf world thinks we could have sat on that [news] for five or six days, they’re clueless,” Davis said. “The last thing we wanted to do was announce it on the eve of the PGA. Believe me, we didn’t want to do that, but we couldn’t sit on it, either, because it was going to get out.”
Once the exclusive negotiating window between the USGA and NBC expired Aug. 1, it created an open market, which Davis said resulted in three publicly traded companies submitting bids with time deadlines.
According to his Tuesday comments to Fairways of Life's Matt Adams, the USGA "didn't feel like we quite got there with the offers on the table so we went to the open market and ultimately Fox came in."
This would suggest the USGA of today--not the regime of 10 years ago--controlled the timing of the decision process. They also then chose to expedite and vote on their decision during the PGA Championship.
This does not, however, explain why those 15 successful, refined, seemingly intelligent board members could not be trusted to keep a secret for five or six more days.
And even if this news had gotten out, do the USGA's lawyers genuinely believe TV deal amounting to annual pocket change for the three mega-media companies involved would actually impact stock prices? This is not the NFL!
Here's the clip the USGA lawyers played of the possible reaction on the street if the news got out before it arrived via press release:
Whitmer also asks Davis if the timing had anything to do with the PGA of America's stance against the USGA anchoring ban and the Executive Director takes the high road, and crashes into retaining wall:
“Anybody that said that just didn’t know what they were talking about,” Davis said. “We have tried to take the high road on this and say, ‘hey, we’ll take our punches.’ It was one of those things where it wasn’t ideal, but we were literally wedged into a corner, it was a no-win [situation]. The view was get hold of the PGA ahead of time and apologize, which we did, and then from there you just take your lumps, which we did.”
There was also an admission that the initial press release issued by president Glen Nager and Davis was a stinker.
“I think we could have done a much better job singing the praises of NBC, Golf Channel, and ESPN, because they have been wonderful to work with. Not only how well they produce stuff and have cared, but because they’ve been partnerships,” Davis said. “ESPN was with us for 32 years, NBC was with us basically 19 years. That one I would like to have us take a mulligan on, because I think there were some hurt feelings, and we never meant to insinuate that it was because of the quality. It wasn’t.”
So the USGA Executive Director admits they knew timing was bad, could not do anything about it, and yet the people who questioned those very actions are clueless and don't know what they are talking about.
Now I know a lot of you find this to be an Inside Baseball situation and as always, you are free to scroll on by. But if you were hoping to see the USGA do something about distance, just imagine how much more fierce the criticism will be from folks far more savvy at shaping public opinion. Hope they are better organized next time.