Every US Open is one big meeting of the minds, where one of the sport’s two main governing body unites with the best players in the world.
The USGA has garnered plenty of scrutiny in recent years, from taking the tournament to new courses like Chambers Bay and Erin Hills, to the course setups at Shinnecock Hills and others. The list of potential issues is endless, and in the game of golf, perhaps no organization is under more pressure than the USGA.
In recent months, the main issues have been how to deal with armlock putting and whether the anchoring ban that was put into place in 2016 remains sufficient as well as the greens books that professionals use during tournaments.
These issues can and will continue to be debated, but to Rory McIlroy, one of golf’s most candid players, these issues do not deter from the overall standing of the game.
“I think (the game) is in a pretty good place,” McIlroy said. “Yeah, there's a couple of little things that us golf nerds want changed, whether it be green-reading books or arm-lock putting or whatever it is, but from a whole and looking at the game from an entirety of it, I think it's in a really good place.”
McIlroy also advocated for the USGA to ban the use of greens books to help bring out players’ skills on the greens.
“It's just taking away a skill that takes time and practice to be mastered,” McIlroy said. “I think reading greens is a real skill that some people are better at than others, and it just nullifies that. It nullifies that advantage that people have.”
When talking about anchored putting, McIlroy sarcastically said that he thought they already got rid of anchoring. But he went on to say that the USGA should crack down even harder.
“That is certainly something that I would like to see addressed as well,” McIlroy said. “And I think there's a common consensus with the players on that one.”
USGA Senior Managing Director of Championships John Bodenhamer responded to McIlroy’s comments in the associations’ annual press conference Wednesday, noting that the USGA is looking to emphasis the players’ skills and talents.
“(The anchoring ban) was about maintaining a free-swinging motion as a stroke and really not wanting anything like a club or a hand or a forearm being onto the body anchor,” Bodenhamer said.”
There is no end to the issues that the USGA deals with daily, but the organization is focused on providing more transparency in their decision-making process, beginning with the creation of a player relations team led by former PGA Tour player Jason Gore.
With former LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan set to replace current CEO Mike Davis after this year’s Open, the USGA could take on a more progressive approach in the future. Whan was unanimously praised for his advancement of the LPGA Tour during his stint as commissioner. While the game is indeed in a good place, Whan will have the opportunity to take golf to the next level.