151. USGA Seeks Donations To Fund The Walker Cup

27th February 2023

Ryan Herrington of Golf Digest reported on 24th February 2023 that the USGA had established an endowment plan to help fund future Walker Cup and Curtis Cup matches.

With a home event costing around $1.25m to run and an away trip around $0.5m, with neither generating much offsetting income, the thinking was that something needed to be done to protect the matches in the event tougher financial times in the future led to questions being asked about whether they should continue to be funded from the USGA’s annual budget.

As a result the USGA has discretely been seeking out donors willing to give $0.5m each to become the ‘Keepers of the Cups’ since May 2022. The plan being for 20 such donors to raise $10m and for the USGA to match this sum with money from its Strategic Investment Fund. The new $20 million total fund would then be ring-fenced to keep both amateur events going in perpetuity.

Encouragingly 11 donors have already committed to the program leaving Mike Whan, CEO of the USGA, confident that the original two-year goal to raise the funds will be met.

Whan has suggested that the early donors are generally not past USGA champions but rather golfers who have a passion for the game and for keeping its history alive.

The ‘Keepers’ will travel to the events and be given behind the scenes access to the captains and players. Each will also be given a commemorative golf bag with a specially designed logo. There’s no such thing as a free golf bag !

Stu Francis, USGA President 2020-23 (Photo: USGA)

Outgoing USGA President, Stu Francis, became the 11th donor at the end of 2022. “I wanted to put my money where my mouth was,” Francis said. “I did want to show people that I really did care about it and was prepared to invest in it. I think the real interest level and commitment level to having a thriving Walker Cup and Curtis Cup is a pretty deep feeling within the golf community.”

It is important to note that the Keepers of the Cups Program will only cover USA team costs and that The R&A will still be responsible for all of the costs attaching to their two GB&I teams.

Given the income the USGA and R&A generate from the sale of TV rights for the U.S. Open and The Open Championships respectively it is surprising to me that this project was deemed necessary. I am sure costs could easily be cut for both Cups if both organisations wished to spend more of their money in different areas.


Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

150. USGA Launch A National Development Programme

27th February 2023

The USGA launched the U.S. National Development Program on 24th February 2023, a move that should ultimately pay dividends for future USA Walker Cup teams.

The Program will identify, train, develop, fund and support the nation’s most promising junior players to ensure that American golf is the global leader in the game. 

Mike Whan, CEO of the USGA, said “Today, nearly every other competitive golf country in the world offers a national development program to foster and develop its elite junior talent. The United States is at a huge competitive disadvantage in this regard, as we simply ask our athletes, parents and coaches to forge their own path, without any unified national guidance or financial support. Golf is the only major sport in the U.S. without a national development program.”

The U.S. National Development Program will focus on six key pillars, namely Talent Identification, Access to Competition, National Teams, Athlete Resources, Player Development and Relations and Athlete Financial Support.The program will create a sustainable grant program to financially assist identified talent with entry fees, travel, coaching costs, golf course access, equipment and more.

It will work alongside existing stakeholders such as the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA), the PGA of America, LPGA Professionals and the Golf Coaches Association of America and Women’s Golf Coaches Association to develop a clear player pathway.

Elite juniors, amateurs and young professionals will be invited to join one of three national teams with dedicated staff and resources and compete internationally under the United States flag.

A commitment is also being made to reach players from underrepresented communities and ensure they have the resources to progress within the sport’s strongest competitive and developmental opportunities.

“The journey from junior golf to elite competition has become complicated and cost-prohibitive for many families,” said Heather Daly-Donofrio, USGA managing director of Player Relations and Development. “It is our duty to unify and simplify the process by removing any barriers that prevent the most promising juniors from reaching their full potential. The success of this program will not only support and elevate the talent of today’s top players, but also diversify and strengthen the next generation of great American golfers.”

Starting in 2023, the program will fund 50 juniors. That number will grow each year and by 2027 the program aims to fund 1,000 juniors across the country and impact thousands more.

It will be interesting to follow the progress of the Program and to see whether it achieves its objectives in the coming years.


Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.