Jones Day partner Glen Nager has been nominated for second vice president of the United States Golf Association, continuing a climb to the top that started when he became the group's general counsel in 2006. He is expected to assume his new post in February.
Last year, he was bumped up the group’s leaderboard when he was appointed to the executive committee. He has served on nearly a dozen other committees during his tenure with the USGA, which is the national governing body of golf for the United States and Mexico. Now, as second in line for the presidency, Nager is only few strokes away from the pinnacle of golf governance.
Nager, 51, who chairs the Jones Day’s issues and appeals practice, said he first picked the game up in his 30s. “I love playing golf,” he said. “The game of golf has great traditions where you apply the rules to yourself, so it requires honor and integrity.”
A J.D. is an obvious boon in the general counsel position, being a lawyer helps in other posts too, Nager said. “There are a lot of parallels between being involved in developing the rules of golf and being a lawyer,” he said, because the procedures are similar. “I wouldn’t be shocked if I become chairman of the rules of golf committee.”
But he added that the choice is up to the incoming president, retired banking executive James Hyler. As far as potential rule changes, Nager said: “It’s publicly known that the USGA is looking at a number of different rules, such as the rules of balls lying on hazards. When you would be penalized for a ball lying in the sand and when you wouldn’t, for instance.”
The USGA position is a volunteer post and Nager will remain a full-time partner at Jones Day, but he said he’ll find a way to manage both. “The USGA will take up more and more of my time, no doubt,” he said.
Between the two gigs, when will he find the time to actually play the game he loves? “Well, that is a problem. All who serve on the executive committee, their golf games tend to suffer,” he quipped. “You think you’re going to get to play all these terrific golf courses. Well, you get to see them.”
Nager clerked for Justice O’Connor in the 1983 term and still meets up with her for a round of golf every now and then, he said. She was one of his sponsors when he applied for membership in the exclusive Chevy Chase Club. And much like her reputation on the bench, O’Connor swings right down the middle. “She hits the ball dead straight. It’s sickening,” Nager joked.