PGA Of America To Frisco, "To deliver innovative and differentiated experiences for our nearly 29,000 PGA Golf Professionals"

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You know it’s a questionable deal when the jargon is flowing concerning the question PGA of America members are asking: how does a headquarters move to Frisco, Texas make them a better members organization?

As evidenced by the tacky NASCAR rollout of logos (above), this is certainly a real estate deal that will benefit PGA of America members who get jobs at the new facility. Beyond that, there really is no obvious benefit for PGA members.

As for Championships, the unbuilt courses have been given two PGA’s, including the 2027 edition announced for Aronimink (which presumably moves up to the open 2026 date while Quail Hollow is likely to get the 2025 date).

So in just over four years from now, the Senior PGA will open the Frisco facility. Chop, chop!

Here are the tournaments committed to after the Frisco City Council approved this massive real estate cash-in job.

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For Immediate Release and let the b-speak begin:

PGA of America relocating headquarters to Frisco as part of innovative public-private partnership

Deal also links Omni Hotels & Resorts, Stillwater Capital, City of Frisco, FISD and Hunt Realty

Frisco, Texas (Dec. 4, 2018) -  The PGA of America is moving its headquarters from Palm Beach County, Florida to Frisco, Texas, the ‘2018 Best Place to Live in America,’* where it will anchor a 600-acre, mixed-use development with an initial investment worth more than half a billion dollars.

Today’s announcement follows votes by the Frisco City Council, its Economic and Community Development Corporations and the Frisco Independent School District (FISD) board of trustees. The PGA of America will initially employ at least 100 people at the Frisco-based headquarters.

Palm Beach staff, Merry Christmas.

Under this agreement, two PGA Championships, two KPMG Women’s PGA Championships and potentially a Ryder Cup will be held in Frisco. 

Potentially.

This groundbreaking agreement is estimated to have an economic impact of more than $2.5 billion over the next 20 years based on a city commissioned tourism feasibility study.** The study considered the economics of golf course activities, including tournaments, plus the additional impact from the new conference center.  

West Palm Beach or Frisco for a conference? Hmmm…

The PGA of America is teaming with Omni Stillwater Woods (OSW), a joint venture led by Omni Hotels & Resorts with Stillwater Capital  and Woods Capital; the City of Frisco, as well as its Economic and Community Development Corporations; and the Frisco Independent School District.                 

“Our move to Frisco will be transcendent for the PGA of America,” said Seth Waugh, CEO, PGA of America.  “Everything great starts with a dream. This is the beginning of a bold, new journey as we bring together world-class partners in a world-class location – to deliver innovative and differentiated experiences for our nearly 29,000 PGA Golf Professionals, golfers of all abilities and our staff.” 

Differentiated experiences. That’s some authentic, frontier malarkey.

Two championship golf courses, a short course, and practice areas totaling 45 holes; a clubhouse; Class AA office space; a 500-room Omni resort and 127,000-square-foot conference center; a technologically advanced retail village; parks and open space plus several miles of trails, will complement this unique, signature development.  

Signature. Now I’m on board. Townhouses probably on the rim too. At least we haven’t been subjected to a grow-the-game mention yet.

The PGA’s Northern Texas Section will also move to PGA Frisco, where state of the art connectivity will provide opportunities to pilot promising new growth-of-the-game programming for all 41 Sections of the PGA of America.  

Ok there you go. Growing the game.

A welcoming gateway at Frisco’s northern border, the upscale development will be located at Rockhill Parkway and Legacy Drive, approximately one-third of a mile south of U.S. 380.  The 600 acres are primarily situated within 2,500 acres being master planned by Hunt Realty Investments.  The development will be open to the public, as well as golfers.

I don’t even know what that means. Go on…

The entire project will have an initial, estimated public-private investment totaling more than $520 million.  The PGA of America will invest $30 million to build its 100,000-square-foot global headquarters and education facility.  OSW will invest $455 million to purchase the land, construct the hotel, conference center, retail space, parking facilities, and golf courses.  The golf courses, clubhouse, practice areas and associated public facilities will be owned by the city.  More than 300 FISD high school golfers will practice at the facility on a weekly basis.  

Finally, something that has some real meaning to the sport!

The agreement calls for the City of Frisco and its development corporations (each funded by a half-cent of Frisco’s sales tax) and FISD to contribute no more than $35 million toward development of the public facilities (City of Frisco, $13.3 million; Frisco Economic Development Corp. (FEDC), $2.5 million; Frisco Community Development Corp. (FCDC), $13.3 million; and FISD, $5.8 million)

The City of Frisco will also provide performance incentives, which include a portion of hotel occupancy, mixed beverage, sales and property taxes generated by the hotel and associated retail on the site for a 20-year-period.  These performance incentives are estimated to total between $52 million and $74 million.  Additionally, the State of Texas will contribute all the hotel and sales tax, along with a portion  of mixed beverage tax collected on the project for 10 years.  The state grant total, provided through Chapter 351 incentives, is valued at more than $62.5 million over 10 years.

FEDC is also investing $14.3 million over a 15-year period for the PGA of America’s headquarters relocation, job creation and PGA tournament incentives.  

The initial 25-year agreement calls for the land and conference center to be publicly owned by the City of Frisco and operated by OSW, which will pay $100,000 a year in rent to the city.  That lease will  increase two percent after the fifth year of the development agreement.  OSW is responsible for all maintenance and capital expenses while retaining revenues.  Omni Hotels & Resorts will own and operate the resort.   

“For years, the PGA of America has served its membership all across the nation where they engage their local communities, and help to raise over $4 billion annually,” said Governor Greg Abbott. 

Sure they do!

“The decision to relocate their headquarters to Texas because of our business-friendly climate is a welcome one.  I thank the PGA of America for the new jobs and investment that they will bring to the City of Frisco, wish them continued success, and welcome them to the Lone Star State, the home of champions.” 

“Today is both historic and transformational for the City of Frisco,” said Mayor Jeff Cheney.  “Not only will this signature development change the future of Frisco’s northern landscape, it will transform the sport, growing a new generation of pros, fans and golf enthusiasts. 

No it won’t.

“As Sports City, USA, we’re thrilled to partner with another world-class brand like the PGA of America.  We’re also honored Omni is, once again, committing such a huge investment in our community, recognizing the potential to grow entertainment, tourism and economic development in one of the fastest-growing cities in America.”  

Translation, they’re building yet another hole down the street from the one they already built.

“Partnering with the PGA of America and City of Frisco to build a brand new, luxurious golf resort in north Texas is an unprecedented move in the strategic growth of our company,” said Blake Rowling, president of TRT Holdings, Inc., parent company of Omni Hotels & Resorts.  “Omni is known for its elevated service and amenities, including golf, and this resort, alongside the headquarters of the PGA of America, promises to be a first-class development that will attract thousands of people per year.” 

“This is a tremendous opportunity for all of North Texas,” said Robert Elliott, co-founder, Stillwater Capital.  “Stillwater Capital is proud to play a part in conceiving and delivering a grand vision for this unique development.”          

“This is yet another example of the public entities in Frisco coming together with private partners to provide unprecedented experiences for young people,” said John Classe, Frisco ISD School Board President.  “The opportunities available to students in Frisco ISD are simply unmatched in Texas and across  the nation.  We’re excited about what this partnership means, not just for our students, but the community.” 

“As co-developers of Fields, Hunt Realty and Karahan Companies, along with our investors, are committed to creating a world-class, mixed-use planned community with the 2,500-acre Fields development, and we are proud to have facilitated the land sale for the new premier Omni Hotel, PGA of America headquarters and championship golf,” said Chris Kleinert, President of Hunt Realty Investments. “We are thrilled to play a part in this transformational project in Frisco, and we welcome the PGA and its employees to Fields.”

The golf courses are expected to open in summer 2022. 

They better!

The hotel, convention center, and other facilities are expected to open within six months of that date. 

Sure they will!

The development will host the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship in 2023.  

*Money Magazine named the City of Frisco the “2018 Best Place to Live in America”.

**Economic impact study for the proposed hotel and convention center. Hotel & Leisure Advisors, October 2017 study. 

And in case the first quotes weren’t enough….

SUPPLEMENTAL QUOTES

SETH WAUGH, CEO – PGA of America

“We welcome the opportunity to develop friendships and partnerships with the community and its residents, as well as across North Texas and throughout the state.  We are grateful to the City of Frisco, the State of Texas and Omni Stillwater Woods for embracing our vision of creating a transformational headquarters that, together with our world-class partners, helps us advance our mission of serving our Members and growing the game,” said Seth Waugh, CEO, PGA of America.   

RON PATTERSON, president, Frisco Economic Development Corporation

“Having another corporate presence, especially one with such a nationally and internationally recognized brand like the PGA of America, continues to enhance Frisco’s reputation as one of the most sought-after sports and business environments in the United States,” said Ron Patterson, president, Frisco Economic Development Corporation.  “The PGA will bring more jobs, as well as numerous PGA tournaments, to Frisco.  Additionally, the PGA becomes the eighth professional sports organization to be headquartered in the city.”

MIKE BARBER, vice chairman, Frisco Community Development Corporation

“We’re investing in this project because we recognize the value of bringing championship tournaments to Frisco, as well as providing our own residents the opportunity to play at a prestigious venue,” said Mike Barber, vice chairman, Frisco Community Development Corporation.  

CRAIG MOEN, chairman, Frisco Economic Development Corporation 

“This new partnership between Frisco and the PGA of America will bring new national and international sports and business focus to the city,” said Craig Moen, chairman, Frisco Economic Development Corporation.  “As a result, we expect to see additional corporations looking to relocate their national and regional headquarters to consider Frisco.  This is an exciting opportunity as we continue to position Frisco as one of the most dynamic cities for corporate relocation in the nation.” 

PETER STREBEL, president of Omni Hotels & Resorts

“We have been committed to investing in leading business and leisure destinations for a long time, but more specifically over the course of the last five years since acquiring six powerhouse resorts,” said Peter Strebel, president of Omni Hotels & Resorts.  “This new, luxury destination, in partnership with the PGA of America, will complement our already impressive portfolio of resorts and feature world-class golf, spa, retail and food and beverage amenities.” 

ROBERT ELLIOTT, co-founder, Stillwater Capital

“Texans are known for thinking big, and we understood early the potential for a mixed-use project anchored by the relocation of the PGA of America, and their commitment to bring major championships to this world-class golf destination,” said Robert Elliott, co-founder, Stillwater Capital. 

DR. MIKE WALDRIP, superintendent of schools, FISD 

“This partnership adds another level of exciting opportunities and experiences for our students,” said Dr. Mike Waldrip, superintendent of schools, FISD.  “The facility will be home to Frisco ISD golf and provide a number of unique learning opportunities for students in fields such as landscape architecture, hotel and restaurant management, and sports broadcasting.  The development around the golf courses will also add millions of dollars to our tax base, helping to keep the tax rate low.” 

Frisco City Council To Vote Tuesday On $500 Million Headquarters Move, Future PGA Venue

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Karen Robinson-Jacobs and Brad Townsend report for the Dallas Morning News on the PGA of America’s big move from Florida to Texas.

Of note is how little will be known until the council votes on the project that will include an Omni hotel, 100,000 square-foot headquarters and two 18-hole courses. With the PGA Championship signed up through 2030—except openings in ‘25 and ‘26—the tournament is now locked into a courses even more into the future.

From the story:

It will also include a guarantee that two PGA Championships, two Women's PGA Championships and multiple men's Senior PGA Championships will be played in Frisco, sources said.

The cost for creating the golf courses and a clubhouse is estimated to be about $80 million, one source said.

Art Stricklin, who first broke the news for Golf.com earlier this year, assesses a few more of the particulars from the latest story. Including this:

One of the investors in the Frisco site is Jonas Woods, who helped develop Trinity Forest golf course in South Dallas, the home of the AT&T Byron Nelson. Woods, who has been involved in the PGA project for years, said all signs point to the deal being approved.

“I believe what Seth says on this,” Woods told GOLF.com.

Suzy Whaley Wastes Little Time Cashing In On New PGA Presidency

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New PGA of America president Suzy Whaley has already been lauded for breaking barriers everywhere you read pure golf fluff. She’s growing the game, revealing a desire to make golf more accessible to more people and some other stuff about a funnel.

But in her role as head officer of the PGA of America, Whaley—proud defender of DUI arrestee Paul Levy and proud scolder of “lil girl” mentioner Ted Bishop—will spend two years playing golf, nodding her head, leaping head first to any live camera and, based on the first business day of her term, cashing in.

I get it. The job is ceremonial, exposes you to some of the game’s most wanton bores, and most people won’t mind if the PGA President gives a few paid talks. Or, jack up that rate for a lesson and maybe get a pay raise at the job, assuming you have one (Whaley’s predecessor, uh, gave up his early into his term, another first for the PGA).

But on business day one announcing a $1899 junket through a PR firm and resort? Guess Whaley has to strike while the barrier-breaking proclamations are hot.

For Immediate Release:

Casa de Campo Announces ‘Women’s Getaway with Suzy Whaley’

Renowned Master PGA Professional to Host Four-Day, Three-Night December Event

(LA ROMANA, Dominican Republic) – 
Casa de Campo Resort & Villas – home to the Caribbean’s premier, luxury golf experiences, including the iconic Teeth of the Dog course – will host its “Women’s Getaway with Suzy Whaley,” Dec. 7 – 10.
 
Whaley, recently elected as the first woman President of the PGA of America, is recognized as one of the country’s top instructors. She was an LPGA Tour member in 1990 and 1993. Most notably, she qualified for and took part in the 2003 Greater Hartford Open, becoming the first woman since Babe Zaharias in 1945 to qualify for a PGA TOUR event. She is the PGA Director of Instruction at Suzy Whaley Golf in Cromwell, Conn.

The four-day / three-night stay-and-play is all-inclusive and starts at $1,899 per person (double occupancy). The many highlights include unlimited green fees on all three of the resort’s classic Pete Dye-designed courses and personal instruction by Whaley for the attendees at the resort’s new state-of-the-art, PGA Tour-quality 
Golf Learning Center highlighted by Trackman and BODITRAK technology.
 
Also featured are three nights’ Elite Room accommodations (with one cart golf per room); breakfast, lunch and dinner in all resort restaurants (SBG and Minitas Beach Club & Restaurant excluded); unlimited drinks in all hotel bars, restaurants and Oasis bar as well as beverage carts out on the courses; one massage at the Casa de Campo Spa; souvenirs; and complimentary transfers from La Romana, Santo Domingo or Punta Cana airports.

Taxes and service charges are additionally included. For more information, call 809.523.8115 or email 
m.leonardo@ccampo.com.do.

“When I turned 50 two years ago, my husband surprised me with a trip to Casa de Campo and had our two daughters and a number of my friends meet us down there for one of the great vacations of my life,” says Whaley. “The property is incredible, the golf is outstanding, the setting is breathtaking, and the service is impeccable.”

‘It’s a true honor for us to partner with Suzy,” says Jason Kycek, Casa de Campo’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. “We invite women to join Suzy and us for this wonderful event and discover first-hand why we’re one of the premier golf resorts in the world.”

"What is the PGA of America trying to hide?"

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That’s the question Alex Miceli asks at MorningRead.com on the eve of Suzy Whaley’s expected election to the PGA of America Presidency. She will be the organization’s first female president. Yet at the PGA’s annual meeting in Palm Springs, media has been denied access despite requests to attend.

Miceli shares the PGA’s statement explaining why they are not welcoming coverage and then asks:

What is the PGA of America trying to hide?

During the past year, Morning Read has written about issues concerning the PGA’s outgoing president, Paul Levy (“PGA applies double standard in Levy case,” June 17). We also have written about PGA members’ concerns and questions about the board’s actions involving Levy before and during his presidency (“L.A. pro to PGA: Clean up Levy mess,” Aug. 2).

The issue was the same for those members as it is today: transparency.

Being transparent and being well-informed work in tandem. Open access to information allows voters, shareholders or members the best opportunity to make educated decisions.

The organization has had a dreadful year on the governance front, with current president Paul Levy arrested for driving under the influence and the organization resisting membership requests for transparency on Levy’s status.

Levy continues to helm PGA events to the very end according to the organization’s Facebook page.

Not Everyone Is Excited About Congressional's Restoration Program

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Congressional Country Club, soon slated to host a PGA of America event every other year for the rest of our lives, has a Keith Foster restoration of Devereux Emmet’s design in its immediate future. With that is tree removal apparently carried out in a questionable manner for Montgomery County, reports the Washington Post’s Jennifer Barrios.

After inspecting the grounds and comparing aerial photos with photos received as part of a complaint, authorities said the club appears to have removed roughly half an acre of tree cover in recent months — possibly in preparation for hosting several high-profile tournaments in coming years, including the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup.

A club member, who triggered the investigation by tipping off a local environmental group, estimated that 1,000 trees were taken down on the 358-acre property. The member thinks it happened in the colder winter months, when the courses are less utilized.

“I am [upset] because they’re ruining my club,” said the member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from club officials, but added that dozens of fellow clubgoers are also concerned.

“I think they don’t want members to fuss,” the person said. “I think it [was] also quietly done so it didn’t draw attention from the county.”

Too late now!

Brilliant Move Or Fox Redux? Sorting Out PGA Of America's New TV Deal

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I had trouble not recalling the many apparent similarities with the USGA and Fox TV deal in reading today’s rollout of the PGA Championship’s CBS renewal/ESPN television deal.

There is the 11-year deal term, which remains confounding on so many levels given how much more lazily entities perform when not incentivized by an expiring contract.

There is the PGA of America turning to an organization—ESPN—that had all but given up doing golf except for the Masters rights, earned as much through their reach as their devotion to golf.

There is ESPN primarily looking to lock up new content deals to fuel a new product. In the PGA’s case it’s ESPN+ coverage. For Fox with the USGA, it was Fox Sports 1.

There are the usual proclamations of getting special attention to under-covered events like the PGA Junior League which, as we saw with the USGA-Fox deal now just doing 8 of 13 USGA events with no front or back end coverage, fizzled out as the cost and rating realities led to altered intentions.

There are the usual vapid statements about better opportunities to grow the game, etc. The USGA and Fox promised unprecedented opportunities to raise the USGA’s profile for the betterment of the game. The USGA has never been more anonymous or underserved.

And then there is the PGA price tag: a rise from around $22 million annually for the PGA Championship to $70 million according to multiple sources who I spoke to after the deal was announced. Furthermore, CBS has insisted that ESPN pay a higher share of the rights fee, an amazing thing given that CBS gets the prime weekend coverage. So let’s use basic logic and assume ESPN is paying $40 million or so annually to CBS’s $30 million.

So far, not a word has been uttered about how the extra cash in the coffers will benefit the PGA of America membership, nor was there any mention of reducing the horrible commercial and promo overload that has made the PGA Championship golf’s least appealing major on television.

Also intriguing to see will be how deep into the night both networks go for the PGA’s two West Coast playings during the 11 years. Will 60 Minutes have to wait on golf? Will NBA playoffs move to ESPN2?

John Ourand and John Lombardo report for Sports Business Daily on the deal’s known details and players, with the emphasis on ESPN+ and the PGA Championship as a key part of building the budding streaming service.

But ESPN also is looking for content to convince people to subscribe to its ESPN+ streaming service. “We’re building a new business in ESPN+. It was ideal for us to have a golf major available for acquisition.” Starting with the ’20 event at Harding Park in S.F., CBS and ESPN will have wall-to-wall coverage (more than 175 hours) during the tournament. CBS will carry weekend afternoon coverage, while ESPN and ESPN+ will carry the Thursday and Friday rounds exclusively. It also will carry weekend rounds before CBS goes on air. Interestingly, while CBS is on air on the weekend, ESPN+ will have live coverage from featured holes and featured groups.

Amazing to think that for 11 years, CBS will yield to ESPN on those digital fronts. Anyway…

There was also this:

ESPN+ also will carry practice rounds before the tournament, press conferences and driving range interviews. ESPN will produce “SportsCenter” from the event. Other aspects of the deal: ESPN will carry the PGA Jr. League Championship starting in Oct. ’20. “That could become a different version of the Little League World Series,” Waugh said.

It could. And probably won’t.

Where this deal could differ from USGA/Fox is in the partnerships: CBS loves golf and has been devoted to covering the game a long time, including the PGA Championship since 1991. The last year saw major technological enhancements to the PGA broadcast. Finally.

ESPN, while clearly stockpiling content ala Fox and FS1, has at times shown great interest in golf and as with its involvement in tennis, figures to go all in to make this work. Many of their top Sportscenter anchors love the game and as Mike McQuade and Rob King’s roles at the network increased, golf coverage has expanded.

Still, eleven years is plenty of time to lose interest and to have little incentive to invest, especially if the parent companies deem the deal a loss leader. Even as Fox has settled into their role handling the USGA events and innovated, the network broke away from live US Amateur golf at Pebble Beach this summer to show golf documentary reruns, presumably because a corporate beancounter wasn’t about to cover overtime pay.

So while danger signs exist for similar headaches that annoy viewers, the PGA of America has diversified their partnerships to now include CBS, ESPN, NBC (Ryder Cup, KPMG LPGA, Senior PGA) and Golf Channel (Ryder Cup, KPMG LPGA, Senior PGA). One hopes they negotiated more outs and opportunities to refine broadcast details in response to changing times or changing corporate cultures.

The next priority for the PGA? Figure out how to take their riches and somehow restore the golf professional to a higher place in the game.

Full CBS press release.

Full ESPN press release.

Full PGA of America press release.

PGA Of America Sifts Through USGA Trash Bin Again And Finds Plenty Of Chances To Visit Congressional, Including A Ryder Cup, PGA

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Pencil in a trip to D.C. eighteen years from now for a Ryder Cup, another east coast PGA Championship in 2031, and yet another construction project at Congressional, this time by Keith Foster. At least the last bit of news offers some encouragement.

But once again going where the USGA no longer wants to take future championships, joining the been-there-done-that collective of Baltusrol, Olympic, Hazeltine, Bethpage, Southern Hills and Oak Hill, the PGA of America’s release:

PGA of America partners with Congressional Country Club to host Championships

BETHESDA, MARYLAND (September 18, 2018) – The PGA of America announced today that Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, will host eight of its championships and events over the next two decades. 

The landmark agreement will route the Ryder Cup (2036), PGA Championship (2031), KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (2022, ’27), KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship (2025, ’33), PGA Professional Championship (2029) and the Junior PGA Championship (Girls and Boys, 2024) to the Nation’s Capital and Congressional’s Blue Course during a 15-year stretch from 2022 to 2036. Congressional will also host an annual PGA HOPE national event, introducing golf to veterans, for the duration of the contract.

Conceived in 1921 so that Members of Congress could meet socially with business leaders, Congressional boasts a vaunted golf history that includes the 1976 PGA Championship won by Dave Stockton and a trio of U.S. Opens (2011/Rory McIlroy, 1997/Ernie Els, 1964/Ken Venturi). Congressional has also staged the 1995 U.S. Senior Open, the 1959 U.S. Women’s Amateur, the 1949 U.S. Junior Championship and three PGA Tour events a total of 15 times.

“This partnership with Congressional Country Club and its membership is monumental in scope and stature, and we are excited to showcase the range of championships and events that the PGA of America has to offer,” said PGA of America Interim CEO John Easterbrook. “We’re also looking forward to building a lasting relationship with the legions of knowledgeable golf fans from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia and believe they will enjoy their time with us and marvel at the talents we will bring to Congressional in the coming years.”      

“Congressional Country Club is proud to be partnering with the PGA of America and looks forward to creating future championship history,” said Bev Lane, President of Congressional Country Club. “The PGA of America and its nearly 29,000 professionals represent the very best that golf has to offer. We are excited to bring major championship golf back to Congressional and to represent our country and the Nation’s Capital as the host of the 2036 Ryder Cup.”

Golden State National: Is This A Bad Time To Mention That We Need More Golf Tournaments In California?

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Let's establish three very simple facts:

--Rain rarely occurs in California from May through October.

--When a golf tournament is played in California, it finishes in prime time for more than half the country and garners a much bigger rating, no matter who is contending

--Golf is played outdoors. It is much better when rain does not interfere with the proceedings.

Ok, technically I've presented four simple facts.

As we were reminded again last week after what has actually been a good-weather season in golf, the sport features many overpaid individuals who continue to sign up their major events on the east coast at times of year when rain can (will) be an issue. The PGA Tour set its playoffs for midwest and northeast venues, with a finish in Atlanta at a boring culmination architecturally that will be even less glamorous in 2019.

(In his defense, Commissioner Moonbeam was said to have been trying for at least one major west coast market in his original playoff plans, but players complained about travel issues and the PGA Tour could not find a sponsor/venue fit out west.)

As you know, ratings have never been very good for the FedExCup Playoffs. The list of reasons is long, from a confusing and unsatisfying format, to the time of year and the time zone of the venues, to overall golf fatigue once the majors have been played. The numbers may not improve next year when the playoffs are contested by late August, soon after the major season has ended and at more eastern venues. 

Meanwhile, the PGA Championship moves to May 2019 and while this meant the PGA of America could open up new regions like Florida or Arizona, they've got mostly a who's-who of venues similar to those they've always gone to--Kiawah, Valhalla, Quail Hollow, Baltusrol, Southern Hills, etc...), with just two California stops scheduled through 2030--Harding Park in 2020 and Olympic Club in 2028. Weather could be an issue for most of the future PGA venues, particularly the New York area stops at Bethpage, Trump Bedminster and Oak Hill. 

So if you like the permutations of weather-delayed event planning, then check out Nick Menta's GolfChannel.com story on the many possibilities for the 2018 BMW Championship as play spills into Monday.

But if you are a dreamer, consider Golden State National. 

It's an as-yet unbuilt (or not-yet-remodeled) facility somewhere south of San Francisco and featuring 36-holes of golf, enough hotel rooms within 45 minutes to support the traveling golf circus, a luxury hotel on property for not-important VIP's, a G5-friendly landing strip, and of course, at least 8,500 yards of golf to deal with the distance explosion.

More vitally, Golden State National can host major events from March to November, deliver ratings and finish on Sundays. The ground will be firm. Fans will enjoy themselves. Television executives won't have digestive issues.

But here's the catch: to build or remodel an existing facility into GSN, it costs money. A lot of money when you have to build a course for the modern game where 250 acres is the new 150, meaning we need 500 acres potentially.

The non-profits of golf, devoted to funneling every penny possible to charity--ok, that's slightly sarcastic--have resisted even considering such a facility due to a lack of vision or a lack of funds, even though GSN could also host some NCAA Championships, LPGA majors and other special events. And hackers the rest of the year eager to pay $250 to play where the pros play. 

It'll probably take about $150 million to pull off the facility from scratch, maybe less if we can find a lesser property where dynamite and architectural ingenuity will be the greatest expenses and a local airport handles the Wheels Up crowd. I can think of two San Diego area properties that fit such a bill, and that's just off the top of my head. 

So how do we go about raising the funds for Golden State National since golf's Five Families resist the desire, vision or courage of convictions to do what is right? Which is, to create a facility dedicated to the modern game, modern weather, and modern sports audience? 

Kickstarter anyone?

Golf's Annual List Of Overpaid Non-Profit Executives Is Out!

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As we near the final quarter of 2018, Golf Digest has compiled the salaries of golf leaders from 2015, the most recent year posted on various Form 990s. Tack on a safe 10% since and you can visualize how much golf's non-profit leaders are making.

John Paul Newport was charged with making sense of the numbers and noted the spike down in Ponte Vedra, but as he points out it's a large operation generating revenue on many fronts compared to other golf organizations making most of their money off one or two major tournaments. 

If Davis and his colleagues in golf's top nonprofit jobs deserve what they earn, why the big jump in pay for PGA Tour executives? Primarily because, practically speaking, the tour functions more like an entertainment business than a trade association.

PGA Tour Inc. qualifies as a nonprofit because it exists not to make money for itself or for owners and shareholders, of which there are none, but primarily to organize, support and create opportunities for its members, independent contractors that we commonly refer to as tour pros.

Eh eh, that's TOUR.

Anyway, the real standouts on this year's list include Mike Whan crossing the two commas line, a bevy of PGA of America C-level salaries climbing nicely, the NGF's Joe Beditz raking in $448k and of course, AJGA head Stephen Hamblin making over $500k now. Who knew junior golf could be so lucrative? Oh right, we learn that around this time every year. 

New PGA CEO Waugh Goes Corporate On The Distance Issue, For Now

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Rex Hoggard got the first chat with new PGA CEO Seth Waugh for GolfChannel.com. 

On the distance issue:

SW: I have an opinion as a golfer, but not as a CEO yet. I pride myself on coming in without preconceived notions and hearing all the sides and I haven’t done that yet. I don’t think you can do this without the sign-on of these 29,000 [members].

I think golf should be more fun instead of less fun. I don’t think we need to make the game harder.

I look forward to getting in the middle of the conversation, but it’s premature to give an opinion because it’s not informed without hearing all the sides of the argument.

Hmmmm...cryptic on his views as a golfer. 

Waugh endorsed the PGA of America team and vision in place from his predecessor Pete Bevacqua:

SW: [Bevacqua] has done a great job. The association is in the best shape, probably ever. The Ryder Cup is bigger than it’s ever been. We’re going to do a TV contract that is bigger than it’s ever been in the past. The status of the brand, the level that he created by being at the table, has never been higher.

The cool thing for me is how do we optimize that? There are two ways to take things over, to redo and clean up and the other is it’s on a roll and you want to continue to reach higher highs, and that’s where we are.

Waugh also appeared on Golf Central from the NBC affiliate WPTV where the busy newsroom nonsense didn't cause him to flinch once. Something tells me Waugh's going to make having an in-house studio priority #1 in the next PGA of America headquarters!

Here is the full interview with Ryan Burr, who asks at the 4-minute mark about the possibility of a PGA Tour merger and says there is "no fire" where the smoke is coming from.

Commissioner Jay Monahan welcomed Waugh with this Instagram post:

PGA Of America Makes It Official: Seth Waugh Is Their Next CEO

We wondered, Ted Bishop wrote about it and now they've made it official.

Much more analysis to come but in the meantime, what a fascinating and bold move for both the PGA and Waugh.

For Immediate Release...

Seth Waugh, a former Deutsche Bank Americas CEO, has been named Chief Executive Officer of the PGA of America. Waugh will guide the business and overall strategy of one of the world’s largest sports organizations, serving the Association’s nearly 29,000 PGA Professionals into an exciting new era.

An Independent Director on the PGA of America Board of Directors, Waugh is completing a three-year term of service, during which the Association focused on a long-term strategic plan to serve the PGA Member and grow the game.

Since 2017, Waugh has served as a Senior Advisor and then a Managing Director at Silver Lake, a global leader in technology investing. He will continue on as a Senior Advisor to the firm.

In 2016, he was also appointed Non-Executive Chairman‎ of Alex. Brown, following the sale of Deutsche Bank’s Private Client Services division to Raymond James. Waugh also served in the management of Florida East Coast Industries in 2014.

“It is an honor and privilege to be invited to lead this remarkable Association into its second century,” Waugh said. “Like so many, I share a passion for the game that has given so much to me, and in the process, has somehow become a huge influence in my life. The opportunity to work with the nearly 29,000 PGA Professionals and others in the game to give back and to help our beautiful sport evolve is a true gift. I look forward to getting into the field to engage with our Members, learn more about the issues that matter most to them, and look for ways to enhance their careers and lives. I am grateful for the trust that the Officers and the Board are showing in me. It will be exciting to see all the good that we can do together as an Association and an industry.

“Leaving Silver Lake has been the hardest decision of my career, and I want to thank my partners for their support and commitment to excellence. There is a reason they are the best in the world at what they do.

“I am also grateful to my predecessor Pete Bevacqua for leaving the PGA in such strong shape, with a long-term strategic plan that will be the road map for our planning. Because of Pete’s good work and the work of the leadership team, the PGA Staff, the Board and Officers, and our Sections, I take over at a time that allows us to optimize our impact—and put particular focus on how to add value to our dedicated Members. I am truly grateful for the game of golf and this amazing opportunity, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Previously, Waugh spent 13 years at Deutsche Bank, including 10 years as CEO of the Americas, overseeing an unprecedented time of growth for the Bank in the region. He also served as Chairman of the Deutsche Bank Americas Advisory Board, an external strategic advisory team conceived under his leadership. During this time, Waugh worked with the PGA TOUR to create the former Deutsche Bank Championship (now the Dell Technologies Championship) in Boston.

“With Seth Waugh steering the PGA of America as our new CEO, we are gaining a leader who is respected across multiple industries for his vast strategic management experience and vision,” said PGA President Paul Levy. “Seth’s passion for PGA Members and the game of golf—as demonstrated by his service on the PGA of America’s Board—coupled with his global expertise in business, will serve our Members well.”

Prior to joining Deutsche Bank, Waugh was CEO of Quantitative Financial Strategies (QFS). He also spent 11 years in various leadership roles at Merrill Lynch, culminating in serving as Co-Head of Global Debt Markets. Earlier in his career, Waugh managed the Corporate Bond and International Trading desks at Salomon Brothers.

Waugh serves on the Board of Franklin Templeton Advisors and the Advisory Board of Workday, Inc. He also served on the FINRA Board of Governors until 2015. Waugh’s philanthropic endeavors have included serving on the boards of the: World Trade Center Memorial Foundation; YMCA of Greater New York; Multiple Sclerosis Society of Greater New York; Executive Committee of Partnership for New York City; St. Vincent’s Services of Brooklyn; Local Initiatives Support Corporation; and Harlem Village Academies, as well as President of the Board of the Lawrenceville School, and Trustee at Wake Forest University.

Waugh holds a B.A. in Economics and English from Amherst College. Seth and his wife, Jane, reside in North Palm Beach, Florida. Together, they have five children, one of whom, Clancy, played golf at Wake Forest and SMU, and is now trying his hand in the professional game.

Waugh succeeds Bevacqua, who was recently named NBC Sports Group President, and will officially start at the PGA on Sept. 24. John Easterbrook Jr., PGA will continue to serve as Interim CEO until such time.

Seth Waugh The First Choice For PGA CEO Position?

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Ted Bishop writes for MorningRead.com on the possibility of Deutsche Bank's former CEO taking the PGA of America position vacated by Pete Bevacqua. Bishop quotes a source saying an announcement could come before this year's Ryder Cup

Phone messages left by Morning Read with Waugh were not returned. A PGA spokesman would confirm only that the hiring process was “ongoing.”

Waugh, the former CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas, could be just the man to lead the PGA’s 28,000 members and apprentices. He would bring a wealth of business and golf experience to one of the most unique and challenging leadership positions in golf.

I also reached out to Waugh for comment after hearing similar rumors but have received no reply. A PGA spokesperson also declined comment.

While Bishop dreams of this as a permanent job for Waugh, I'm having a hard time understanding why an executive of his caliber would commit to the job on anything beyond an interim basis.  

Certainly, the 13-year CEO of Deutsche Bank and well-known golf nut would land well outside the box of expected candidates. But on a closer look, hiring the 60-year-old to fill Pete Bevacqua’s shoes could give the PGA of America major credibility in upcoming negotiations and provide Waugh a challenge befitting his skill level and contacts. 

Waugh is best known to golfers as the very non-CEO type whose golf tan and longer hair provided a nice change of pace during Deutsche Bank Championship announce booth visits.  He was instrumental in bringing the PGA Tour back to Boston, and remains very close with Commissioner Jay Monahan, who was once that tournament’s director. That event has its final playing this week as the Dell Technologies Championship. 

For the last three years, Waugh has been serving on the PGA of America’s Advisory Board of Directors as an Independent Director. His current term would expire in January. However, Waugh’s already well-versed in the PGA of America’s forthcoming televisions negotiations on a new PGA Championship television contract as well as other issues for the organization. He is close with former CEO Pete Bevacqua and would likely maintain the vision set in place.

A member of ten golf clubs—including Seminole in Palm Beach near PGA headquarters where he spends his winters—Waugh serves on various boards and still works in the finance sector. He’s also one of the managing partners of the Pebble Beach Company.

PGA Of America Files: DUI Suspect And President Paul Levy Surfaces On Sunday

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The same organization whose board deemed Ted Bishop's "little school girl" social media reference worthy of a lifetime ban and forced removal from office, wheeled out recent DUI offender Paul Levy to front the CBS telecast and 2018 PGA Championship trophy ceremony Sunday.

Levy was otherwise not seen all week at Bellerive other than at a PGA Board meeting and no comment was made about his lack of presence at the PGA media conference Wednesday. The PGA President traditionally sits in that news conference.  

Levy is also the first PGA of America President to not actually have a job at a golf facility, or any current job. But he retains his position atop the PGA for a few more months until Suzy Whaley (right) takes over. Whaley, who strongly supported Bishop's ouster, is supporting Levy despite his having possibly committed a felony.  

Moral of this story: DUI's are ok, perceived sexist comment on Twitter with 28 days to go in office? Lifetime ban. 

Levy has yet to make a statement or apologize.

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Anywhere But Palm Beach Gardens: PGA Headquarters Move Could Go Many Directions

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Outgoing PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua commented on the PGA of America's possible move to Frisco, Texas and opened the door to a move there, a bigger and more modern facility in Florida or other possible locations in the United States.

The comments leave the PGA staff less certain than ever, something Bevacqua empathized with in his remarks. From my Golfweek.com item:

“It’s difficult on the staff to be in this period of limbo where we don’t know exactly where we’ll be,” he said. “Are we going to stay put? Are we going to move to Frisco? Could we move somewhere else? So I know the goal is to resolve that and come to a conclusion as soon as possible, but we’re just not there yet, unfortunately, because we would like to have made that decision.”

Speculation Begins On Next PGA Of America CEO...

At least, amongst people and even some very important people. 

While most golfers could care less who oversees the PGA of America, insiders on golf's business side of golf are eager to see what direction the organization goes after Pete Bevacqua resigned this week to work at NBC Sports.

In a very informative analysis of the Bevacqua era, Dave Shedloski at Golf World throws this out:

John Easterbrook, the PGA’s Chief Membership Officer, has been tapped to serve as interim CEO, a selection that raised a few eyebrows from observers in and out of the organization. It was thought that Darrell Crall, who has served as Chief Operating Officer since Bevacqua came on board in the fall of 2012, would be the logical choice. Crall, sources say, was runner-up behind Bevacqua among the six candidates interviewed for the CEO post when a retiring Joe Steranka vacated six year ago. However, Crall also is believed to be deep in the woods on the PGA’s prospective move to Texas, given his longtime role as executive director of the Northern Texas PGA Section prior to joining the PGA in 2011.

Both Easterbrook and Crall would have to be considered candidates to succeed Bevacqua. Past presidents Roger Warren and Jim Remy, who also interviewed for the post in the last search, might get another look.

“I’d be shocked if Darrell Crall isn’t hired into that position,” said one past PGA officer. Still another countered, “I don’t think that’s necessarily what we need.”

I would also suggest LPGA Commish Mike Whan seems ready for a new challenge and will likely be a name submitted by some. He already is well-versed in Five Family code, conduct and conformity, if nothing else. 

"Bevacqua’s exit leaves questions for PGA"

Alex Miceli offers up several thoughts on where Pete Bevacqua's departure leaves the PGA of America as it considers a headquarter move and a new television contract. 

On the Frisco move:

One will be the reported move of PGA headquarters from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., to Frisco, Texas, near Dallas. The next CEO surely would want a say in the decision. Considering that it took more than five months for Bevacqua to be named CEO, the move to Frisco might be on life support while waiting for the PGA’s new boss. It still could be an issue for the new CEO, if a move is determined to be necessary.

The news did bring PGA of America President Paul Levy out of hiding following his June DUI arrest. Levy faces an August 2nd court date. His letter to members:

I’m writing today with news that Pete Bevacqua has resigned as our CEO to become president of the NBC Sports Group.  His resignation is effective Monday, August 13, upon conclusion of the 2018 PGA Championship. 

We are grateful to Pete for his many contributions in nearly six years as our CEO.

Under Pete’s leadership, we advanced our mission to grow the game and serve our members in many ways:  We developed and implemented a long-term strategic growth plan; made major enhancements in the career consulting and professional development of PGA Members, including establishing life-long learning in three career tracks and creating the Chief Membership Officer position; took the bold step of moving the PGA Championship to May; reached a record-setting Ryder Cup agreement with NBC; alongside the LPGA, led the creation of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship as the cornerstone of our diversity and inclusion efforts; and set in motion the exciting path to a new headquarters development for our Association. 

In addition, we took ownership of PGA Jr. League and created an effective way to introduce boys and girls to the game in a fun, team format.  Our charitable foundation, PGA REACH, is impacting more lives through golf than ever before by enabling access to PGA Professionals and this great game. 

These are exciting times for the PGA of America, but the best is yet to come.  We are committed to building upon the momentum of recent years while also embracing new ways to grow the game and serve our members. 

The Board of Directors has approved a leadership transition plan with Chief Membership Officer John Easterbrook, PGA, acting as interim CEO. During this time, we will look internally and externally to find a long-term CEO. 

With the PGA of America well-positioned for continued success, Pete departs with our gratitude and best wishes to him and his family. 

Sincerely, 
 

Paul K. Levy
President, PGA of America

Pete Bevacqua Leaves PGA Of America For NBC Sports

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The PGA of America loses a CEO and NBC Sports Group gains a new president, with Pete Bevacqua taking a newly-created position starting in September under Mark Lazarus overseeing many elements, including all golf properties. 

In the meantime, a new CEO search will commence for the PGA of America with an upcoming television contract negotiation and possible move to Frisco, Texas looming. 

For Immediate Release:

PETE BEVACQUA NAMED PRESIDENT OF NBC SPORTS GROUP

New Role Will Oversee Programming, Marketing, Digital, NBC Sports Regional Networks, and all Golf Businesses

STAMFORD, CONN. -- July 24, 2018 -- NBC Sports Group today named Pete Bevacqua to the newly created position of President, NBC Sports Group. In this role, Bevacqua will oversee several key areas, including programming, marketing, digital, the NBC Sports Regional Networks, and all Golf businesses under the NBC Sports umbrella. He’ll report to Mark Lazarus, Chairman of NBC Broadcasting and Sports, and will begin his new role in September.

“With the expansion of NBC Sports Group over the last seven years, and our continuing investments in new and existing businesses, adding Pete to our already strong management team will help us organize for future growth,” said Lazarus. “We are thrilled to have someone with his experience and reputation join our organization.”

Bevacqua joins NBC Sports Group from the PGA of America where he has served as CEO since 2012. The PGA of America oversees the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup, among many other events, and serves more than 29,000 members. Most recently, he led the move of the PGA Championship from August to May beginning in 2019, giving the golf major a stronger place on the golf calendar. Among his other accomplishments at the PGA of America, he created the first-ever Chief Membership Officer; added and renewed several key partnerships and sponsorships; and the PGA designed and implemented a strategic plan focused on the PGA’s mission to serve its members and to grow the game. Prior to the PGA of America, Bevacqua served as the Global Head of Golf at Creative Artists Agency (CAA Sports), and other key industry positions.

“The opportunity to join NBC Sports Group, and the larger Company of Comcast NBCUniversal, which holds media rights to the world’s biggest events and an incredible assortment of assets, was too good to be true,” said Bevacqua. “I am also deeply grateful to the membership, leadership and staff at the PGA of America. Professionally and personally, for me and my family, these have been the best six years of my life. Leading the PGA of America and the 29,000 PGA Golf Professionals will always mean a great deal to me.” 

Saturday News Dump: PGA Of America Locks In Baltusrol For '23 KPMG LPGA, '29 PGA

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I'm fairly certainly a Saturday in the summertime is the only opportunity more likely to get something less notice than a Friday evening in summertime. 

As Kevin Casey notes for Golfweek, this is the second joint KPMG LPGA and PGA Championship site announcement and great news for the women, who will return to a former U.S. Women's Open site and scene of many fine championships.

For Immediate Release:

PGA OF AMERICA TO HOST KPMG WOMEN’S PGA CHAMPIONSHIP AND

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP AT BALTUSROL GOLF CLUB

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (June 30, 2018) – The PGA of America announced today that Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey will host two of its pillar championships: the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in 2023 and the PGA Championship in 2029.

Founded in 1895, Baltusrol has played a prominent role on the national golf stage for nearly 125 years. Both Championships will be staged on Baltusrol’s famed Lower Course, which is an A.W. Tillinghast design. Since opening in 1922, the Lower Course has hosted 10 major golf events, including seven professional major championships.

The 2023 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will be the second women’s major championship played on the Lower Course. In a duel of World Golf Hall-of-Famers, Mickey Wright topped Betsy Rawls by six shots to win the 1961 U.S. Women’s Open.  

This will be Baltusrol’s third PGA Championship: Phil Mickelson and Jimmy Walker notched memorable one-shot victories on the Lower Course in 2005 and 2016, respectively.  

“The PGA of America is delighted to continue our wonderful relationship with Baltusrol well into the future,” said PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua. “We’re excited to watch the best men and women in the game measure themselves against one of the most historic and challenging golf courses in the world, Baltusrol’s Lower Course.”

The KPMG Women’s Championship is a collaboration of the PGA of America, LPGA and KPMG, and focuses on the development, advancement and empowerment of women.

“KPMG’s commitment to elevating women on and off the golf course is exemplified by the selection of Baltusrol Golf Club as the host of the 2023 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship,” said Lynne Doughtie, KPMG U.S. Chairman and CEO. “To help more women in business advance to the C-suite, the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit will be held at Baltusrol and bring together top leaders across multiple industries with women nominated by their CEOs to attend.”

“The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship has quickly become synonymous with greatness, and what better venue to solidify that than Baltusrol,” said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan. “Even casual fans equate Baltusrol with ‘major’ moments in golf, and we’re thrilled that the best female golfers in the world will get to test their games at such an iconic venue in 2023.”

In 2014, Baltusrol Golf Club was designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service, one of only four golf properties to earn this distinction.

“Since 1901 the best players in the world have competed against each other on our golf courses," said Rick Shea, Baltusrol President. "We look forward to working with the PGA of America to showcase the best women and men in these two Major Championships.”

With Lack Of Action On Levy, PGA Of America Leadership Doesn't Care About Credibility

Here is Mike Purkey writing for MorningRead.com on Paul Levy's DUI as the PGA Club Pro Championship plays out in the president's home state.

As the same organization that booted Ted Bishop for calling Ian Poulter a "lil girl" on social media, just a sad state of affairs that they will stand by someone committing a far greater offense, especially as the arrest report noted damage done by Levy's crash into a sign that could have been a human life.

Purkey writes this strong statement:

By leaving Levy in office, the PGA sends the message to its 29,000 members that the organization’s leadership doesn’t care about the optics of this issue or the credibility of the PGA of America.

Jack Loves The Memorial's New Schedule Spot, Not So Sure About A May PGA In Rochester

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Dave Shedloski reports for Golf World about Jack Nicklaus's pleasure at future Memorial's situated perfectly between the PGA Championship and U.S. Open. The Golden Bear also notes there will be less European competition in future years and is pleased that the Players and PGA Championship will present more interesting weather equations as part of the mix. 

Except in Rochester, 2023.

"I don't know," Nicklaus added, "what's going to happen in May in Oak Hill in Rochester, but I wish them well. I hope the weather is good. That's going to be a tough time."