In deciding to leave his job as chief executive officer of the United States Golf Association – a decision Mike Davis made for himself without being pushed by others – he has been guided by a simple principle.
Davis has chosen to follow his heart.
In 30-plus years at the USGA, working his way through the organization to become its first CEO, Davis has helped shape the game he loves while running a $200-million-a-year non-profit company. In a letter announcing his decision to staff members Tuesday, Davis said the time has come for him to follow through on his passion for course design.
Davis will leave his USGA position by the end of 2021 and will join forces with Tom Fazio II in a joint business venture called Fazio & Davis Golf Design.
“I’ve been fascinated with golf design ever since I was a junior golfer,” Davis said in a letter to associates. “It started with doodling golf holes, and then reading and observing all that I could about golf course architecture. It also led to a quest to study as many of the world’s best courses as possible.
“The last 30-plus years with the USGA have afforded me so many wonderful opportunities in that regard, including meeting and working with many of the renowned designers in the game. I have also learned a great deal about grasses, course maintenance and construction from our deeply knowledgeable Green Section agronomists.”
Following David Fay to become the USGA’s seventh executive director in 2011 (the CEO title was created in 2016), Davis has been instrumental in guiding the game through a sometimes turbulent period including the anchored putting ban, challenges created by equipment advances, the creation of Golf House Pinehurst and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Mike has been a transformational leader in golf and his actions to move the USGA forward have been numerous and decisive,” said Stu Francis, president of the USGA. “These accomplishments include leading global rules modernization, the new World Handicap System, the ongoing Distance Insights project and the creation of the new USGA Foundation.
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