USGA’s membership and marketing campaigns are fully modernized

February 17, 2012

It’s just amazing what a $100 membership in the United States Golf Association brings you these days.

I have been an Eagle-level member of the venerable golf organization for many years, and not just because it’s nice to match one’s tax deductions to one’s interests whenever one can.

There’s also the small matter of the swag they send your way.

Shortly after my renewal check cleared, the USGA mailed to me a beautiful 2012 calendar. Taped to the cover was yet another official ball mark repair tool - one of about 15 in a row, at last estimate. There’s also another official member's hat and a year-coded bag tag, with my name and membership classification imprinted on the shiny plastic disc.

Lately the USGA’s efforts at showing its appreciation have taken a new turn, this time online. I am now receiving regular email updates about the goings-on at our nation’s house of golf.

One recent email reminded me of the USGA golf shop, full of merchandise tied to this year’s United States Open, to be held in June at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. They offer a 15 percent discount on purchases totaling $100 or more, good until Feb. 21.

The shopping email also reminded me that it has been several years since I received in the mail a USGA golf shop catalog. The hard copy was most likely a victim of ever-rising production and mailing costs, especially when compared to the ease of online shopping, for both the USGA and its target audience.

The association’s newest email missive is pretty intriguing, regarding a March 6 event held far closer to the Cape Region than the fogbound fairways of Olympic.

The USGA is offering one of its regional Handicap Seminars at the Chartwell Golf & Country Club in Severna Park, Md. A staff member of the USGA’s handicapping section will make a presentation about the USGA handicap system, discussing commonly encountered golf rules situations and what to do about them.

The seminar will also feature a presentation about the role golf club handicap committees play in encouraging member compliance with the occasionally difficult Rules of Golf.

The USGA noted in the announcement that the seminar is now a required part of its Handicap System Licensing Program. Member clubs throughout the United States, including Cape Region courses, pay a modest fee each year to gain access to the handicap management software offered by the USGA, critical for those players desiring an official handicap index for competition.

At least one club representative must attend one of these handicap seminars and pass the open-book quiz to keep the club’s license intact, before the end of 2105.

No time like the present, then.

The seminar fee of $40 earns each attendee a light breakfast, lunch and instructional materials. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., with the seminar starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 2 p.m. Attendees will work through lunch.

PGA professionals who attend and pass the test receive 5 credit hours toward their continuing accreditation requirements. At the very least, therefore, it might be a very good idea for Cape Region clubs to send one of their pros as well as a member of their handicap committee to this off-season opportunity.

According to, Chartwell is just under 97 miles away, a pretty straight shot across the Delmarva Peninsula and the Bay Bridge, north on Maryland’s Ritchie Highway from U.S. 50. It says it should take just over two hours. A very early morning departure is required, therefore, unless you wanted to drive over the night before and enjoy an evening in nearby Annapolis.

Registration for the seminar ends Feb. 25, so don’t procrastinate. For more information on the event, or to register, go to or call Jo Vargas at 908-234-2300, Ext. 1428.