In 2005, Jason Gore found himself in the final group of the US Open at Pinehurst No. 2, playing alongside Retief Goosen, who was going for a remarkable third national championship in a five-year span.
Things didn't turn out well for either Gore or Goosen on that Sunday, with Gore shooting an 84 and Goosen carding an 81. The pair were so far out of it by the time they made the turn, they decided to have a side match for the back nine. The smiles and levity the pair shared as they finished were a refreshing balance as Tiger Woods sought another major and Michael Campbell shocked the world.
Now, 14 years later, Gore has been hired by the USGA to lead its new player relations group as the governing bodies hopes to improve its standing with competitors, particularly touring pros, after years of controversies which have soured how some players view the USGA.
“I have the utmost respect for the USGA and proudly tell everyone that my experience in the 1997 Walker Cup was the highlight of my golf career,” Gore said in a release. “I’m incredibly honored to have been invited to play this role and can’t wait to get started.”
The creation of the player relations division marks a big change, as the task was previously handled by committee within the organization. By hiring a touring pro to lead the task, the USGA is hoping to send a signal.
“We needed a player. Somebody who has experienced the highest level, [who] stood in a pair of golf shoes, walking up the 18th fairway with a lead in a PGA Tour event or a very elite amateur championship and has won or succeeded at the highest level," said John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s director of championships. "I think if you’ve done that you have an understanding that few others have.”
Gore will oversee a team of four people tasked with building rapport between the pros and amateurs competing in the USGA championships. Player perspective can inform how the USGA's decisions on rules, championship setup and other matters are perceived and experienced by the competitors themselves.
The new job will mark a transition for Gore, who has been spending the bulk of his time in the last three years as an insurance salesman. That hasn't stopped him from making the occasional run on the PGA Tour, however, as Gore put himself in position to win the 2018 RSM Classic at Sea Island last November. As part of the new job, Gore will move near the USGA headquarters in New Jersey. However, he'll spend weeks out on the PGA Tour leading into June's US Open at Pebble Beach in California, addressing player concerns.