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USGA's Mike Davis to retire by end of 2021

USGA CEO Mike Davis at 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot
Mike Davis answers a question during a news conference at last week’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

After 3 decades with the game's governing body, the CEO intends to team with Tom Fazio II and design golf courses

Two days after one of the most convincing U.S. Open victories in the tournament’s century-plus history, the head of the U.S. Golf Association has announced his resignation, effective next year. But don’t leap to any conclusions, he urges. It has been in the works for years.

Mike Davis, who led the USGA since 2011 and was associated with the game’s governing body in the U.S. and Mexico for the past three decades, intends to retire by the end of 2021, he announced Tuesday in a news release. The USGA expects to have a replacement before the 2021 U.S. Open in June at Torrey Pines in San Diego.

Davis, 55, plans to team with course architect Tom Fazio II in a new business venture to be called Fazio & Davis Golf Design.

Davis, who joined the USGA in 1990, became the association’s seventh executive director in 2011 and its first chief executive in 2016. In the past four years, he has overseen the association’s operations.

“Leading the USGA has been such an honor, and I’m grateful for the many wonderful years I have had with this great organization,” he said in a statement. “While I am excited for my next chapter, my work here is not done, and I look forward to furthering our mission to better the game over the next 15 months.”

Davis grew up in Chambersburg, Pa., and was the 1982 Pennsylvania State Junior champion and played college golf at Georgia Southern. Two years after his 1988 college graduation, he joined the USGA as the manager of championship relations, overseeing ticket sales and transportation. By 1997, he was the director of the U.S. Open and oversaw course setup of the national championship for years.

On Sept. 9, before the recent U.S. Open, which Bryson DeChambeau won by six strokes as the only player under par at Winged Foot Golf Club, Davis introduced Golf House Pinehurst and said that Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort would serve as an “anchor” for a future rotation of U.S. Open sites.

Perhaps the biggest piece of unfinished business for Davis will be the completion of the Distance Insights project, a study that will determine how the governing body should proceed amid the steady increase in driving distance and the effects on the game. The project, which was expected to be completed earlier this year, was delayed in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.

"I think something is going to happen,” Davis told the Associated Press’ golf writer, Doug Ferguson. “When is it going to be done? How is it going to be done? How will we introduce it? It’s a multiyear process. I’d have to stay many years to see this thing through. I’m just happy that for the first in over 100 years, we’re finally doing something. I pushed at it with the R&A; I pushed it with our own group.

“I will look back saying that is one thing I am very proud of, because I just know it’s in the best interest in the game.”

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