Golf Builds to the Future

The USGA, led by Rich Tedaldi, is reimagining golf’s global headquarters

Rich Tedaldi, USGA

When Rich Tedaldi first interviewed for his current position as head of campus operations at the United States Golf Association (USGA), they assured him repeatedly that his skill at playing the game was irrelevant. “I’m not a great golfer,” he laughs, “so thank goodness.”

Tedaldi is no professional athlete, but his experience in the game goes back to his teenage years, when he would play golf on Long Island’s public courses with his friends. He’s continued playing socially throughout his thirty years in corporate real estate—and even played regularly during a job search that eventually ended at the USGA in Liberty Corner, New Jersey.

The home of golf’s leading organization dedicated to the game features an outdoor 15,000-square-foot putting green, visible from the interior offices. Every design aspect of the campus feels much like the game itself: open, approachable, full of history, and constantly evolving.

“During my second week, I had a meeting with our CEO, Mike Davis,” Tedaldi recalls. “I asked him what I should focus on. What I will always remember him saying was: ‘Never forget, it’s all about serving the game of golf.’”

When he arrived in January 2017, the USGA was in the midst of an ambitious physical facility renovation. The organization had outgrown its space and, motivated by serving the game and its future, had culturally evolved past its workplace design philosophy. Those factors, combined with growing concerns over the building’s energy efficiency, made the timing right for a major renovation.

“The existing building was last renovated in the late ’90s, and it was not conducive to current workstyles,” Tedaldi says. “There were high-walled workstations, and natural lighting and awareness of the outdoor
surroundings were not optimal.”

The new space and its 30,000-square-foot addition will feature open, activity-based layouts to better serve today’s collaborative, digitally enabled, and fluid workstyles. The redesign will foster the collaboration and innovation that the USGA values, and will also require some staff retraining.

A view of USGA headquarters, where visitors can get a taste of glory by looking at records of all previous USGA championship winners, as well as trophies from the competitions.

“It’s a big change for the organization, so we’ve implemented a change management program to help the staff get acclimated,” he explains. “That includes communications through multiple channels that covers building design features and functionality, amenities, and etiquette.”

The renovation also provided an opportunity to incorporate digital maintenance controls and more broadly influence the organization’s culture. When he arrived, no aspect of maintenance or work orders was digitized or automated; associates got things fixed by flagging down engineers in the hallways, and a handful of Excel spreadsheets served as the primary form of recordkeeping.

Now, thanks to a central computerized facility management system, the organization is able to take a more proactive approach. Work orders are digitized and stored, and automation is implemented wherever viable. Tedaldi notes that it’s been an iterative process, a byproduct of shifts in both technology and culture, and that the transformation will continue in the organization’s new home.

The USGA’s broad-ranging functions demand an array of specialized facilities, so Tedaldi and his team have worked to craft strategies to maintain and develop each of them.

For instance, the outdoor putting green requires irrigation, fertilization, and, in hot weather, water treatments to prevent the grass from burning out. Warehouse and shipping services support multiple annual championship golf events across the country with materials such as scoreboards, distance measurement equipment, and course setup materials. “I was amazed at the amount of times we ship to these championships, and then ship back,” he laughs. Tedaldi’s team is also responsible for the USGA’s Research and Test Center, which operates an indoor wind tunnel that helps test golf equipment for compliance with the game’s rules.

“That space used to just be for equipment testing, but now we have a whole sustainability practices group housed there, as well as a research and innovation group,” he says.

Another part of the USGA’s commitment to game stewardship is the preservation of golf’s history, so the New Jersey campus features a public museum. Exhibits cover the origins of the game, its surging popularity and arrival on television, and the achievements of USGA champions over time. In its entirety, it represents the world’s largest collection of golf artifacts and photography.

“That building is almost a hundred years old. It’s a beautiful Georgian estate the USGA purchased when the organization was much smaller—it was actually the original USGA headquarters,” he says. Since then, the USGA has built multiple additions to the facility, including the Hall of Champions, where visitors can see a historic record of all USGA championship winners, and all the USGA championship trophies themselves.

Looking ahead, Tedaldi’s team is eager to keep implementing proactive facilities strategies. In 2018, they’ll be ready to roll out a comprehensive sustainability program inspired by the association’s leading-edge golf course
sustainability programs, with new strategies in the works for power, paper, water, garbage, and recycling.

Throughout the campus, they’ll also keep innovating and carrying golf’s essence into all of the facilities’ and landscape’s features.

“As you approach the USGA, the campus has two large grass meadows. The next step for us, as you approach the entry, is to immediately recognize you’re part of a golf experience,” he explains. “We want to live our values through our whole space, and building that immediate connection for guests as they enter will be a great way to do it.”

Once the organization is settled into its new headquarters, Tedaldi says he has one more personal goal for 2018. “I’ve been pretty consumed with my new job and the renovation, but there are plenty of opportunities to play and enjoy golf with the USGA,” he says. “I certainly hope to play a little more this coming season.”

Photos: Johnathan Kolbe/USGA, Gensler