“I think all the people that hear about change think, ‘Oh, no, it’s over, they’re going to put a governor on and everybody’s going to have all the same distance,’” he said. “Nobody has any interest in doing that to either the game or the people that make the game exciting.”
Whan will also be central to ascertaining which courses will be selected as U.S.G.A. championship sites, particularly when it comes to the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open. Some of the most controversial decisions in Davis’s tenure stemmed from a desire to branch out from an established, if unofficial, rotation of traditional sites for the association’s premier events. That led to the U.S. Open’s being played in largely untested venues like Chambers Bay in Washington State and Erin Hills in Wisconsin with, at best, mixed results.
Lately, the U.S.G.A. has signaled its inclination to return to golf courses with a history of hosting the national golf championship, something endorsed by Francis and Whan.
“You’re going to see much more of a locking in on traditional sites,” Francis said.
Whan, who will be just the U.S.G.A.’s eighth chief executive, said players wanted the same thing. Cognizant that this year’s U.S. Women’s Open will be contested at the Olympic Club in San Francisco for the first time (it has hosted the U.S. Open five times), Whan said, “I can promise you right now there are players on the L.P.G.A. dreaming of Olympic.”
Davis, who is leaving the U.S.G.A. to pursue his interest in golf course design, endorsed Whan’s selection.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mike Whan for many years, and I view him as a trusted, strategic leader who has a proven track record of building collaborative partnerships,” Davis said in a statement. “I know the U.S.G.A. will be in great hands, and I look forward to partnering with Mike to ensure a smooth and successful transition.”