David Fay, somewhat shockingly, retires as head of USGA

Since 1989, David Fay has been the face of the United States Golf Association, taking over as executive director that year, changing the way tournaments and golf was perceived for the following two decades.

But on Friday, Fay announced that he'd be stepping down from his position at the USGA, leaving a place he helped mold into a new generation.

You see, before Fay (number 57 in our top-100 most important people in golf history), the USGA wasn't nearly as everyday man, but he worked hard to change that perception. Fay dropped out of the famed Pine Valley Country Club in the late '90s because he didn't feel it was the right look for his organization, and made a bold, but eventually successful move, when he took the U.S. Open, the USGA's crown jewel, to a public golf course in 2002. The event at Bethpage Black was so successful (thanks to the crowds and Tiger Woods) that the USGA returned there in 2009, a year after they played the championship at another public course, Torrey Pines.

While Fay's course setup has caused stirs over the years (maybe the biggest eyebrow raise by players was the speed of the greens at Shinnecock Hills in '04), he has always stuck to his guns with tight fairways, high rough and mean but consistent greens.

"Things are in good order," Fay said in a statement. "Our senior staff leaders, each of whom I have put into place, are highly talented and motivated. And looking ahead, there are a number of multiyear projects on the drawing board ... which makes this, for me, a good time to move on. Leave on a high note, as Seinfeld would say."

Fay recently turned 60, and will be replaced by Mike Butz, the deputy executive director since 1995.

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