PGA Of America CEO Seth Waugh On The Scariness Of Playing The Travis At Garden City, Club Pros As Cadillac-Driving Thought Leaders, And Polymer Sprays To Preserve Golf Courses

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If you like reading about member-guests, issues Hamptons golfers face and one downright scary thought, then you’ll love PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh’s “My Shot” as told to Guy Yocum in the latest Golf Digest. It’s accompanied by photos from what appears to be a shelved-for-campiness Vineyard Vines shoot by a photographer named, of course, Finlay Mackay.

Like the last lengthy sit-down he gave where he is still listing all of the clubs he’s a member at, Waugh comes off a bit out of touch with 99.9% of the golf world.

But two or three times a year, I'll tee it up individually, in tournaments—the club championship at Seminole, the singles events at National or, in the past, the Travis at Garden City. I like to feel on occasion that uncomfortable sensation that comes when you have to post a number, no Equitable Stroke Control, no excuses and nowhere to hide. It's a little scary, given my day job and a Handicap Index of 8.6, and there's always the possibility I could go completely off the rails toward Humiliation Station. But I like it. My friend Vinny Giles said it best: “Golf's a lot different when you've got a pencil in your hand.”

That’s why they invented Long Island Iced Tea.

The PGA professional is the most revered person in the game. He or she is admired and respected, much the way doctors, teachers and football coaches are in our communities. They come into contact with a lot of charities, civic leaders and business people. At its core, it's a noble profession, because they're always serving. They can have a huge influence, they're trusted and they care. They're sort of ministers with a different pulpit. I took this job for the opportunity to make 29,000 members' lives better, and because of how that can impact the lives of the millions of people that they touch every day. I'd like to utilize these traits more to their benefit.

Good solid sentiment even if we all know superintendents are the most revered and typically the best paid, but maybe such a view will help raise their profile nationally. Wait, what, there’s more?

It's just an idea, but say your PGA member drove a Cadillac. Could he or she, as a local thought leader, drive sales for the nearby dealer through club members and benefit from that in some way? Can we do this on a national scale? Everyone wins.

Like, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back scheme! Very, 21st century-friendly choice of Cadillac, too!

Oh but it gets worse…

A lot of ideas for improving the game are going to come from outside of golf. Arjun Chowdri, who we just named as the PGA of America's first Chief Innovation Officer, told us recently about a discovery prompted by the problem of waste in grocery stores. The amount and cost of produce going bad before it moves off the shelves is staggering. Arjun noted that scientists have developed a safe polymer that, when sprayed on fruit and vegetables, makes them last several days longer.

Yes, that shiny crap that sends people to buy from, say, the Southampton Farmer’s Market? Go on…

Arjun is wondering if there might be a use for that polymer on golf courses.

Does he now?

Could it mean less water usage, which we know is an increasingly critical issue in golf? Can it keep the azaleas in bloom at the Masters a week longer?

Ok, now that’s important in the grand scheme of things.

Maybe, maybe not.


But we're going to be encouraging and investing in that type of alternative thinking. One benefit of moving our headquarters to Frisco, Texas—we'll have golf courses and other state-of-the-art facilities—is to create a laboratory for the game in all forms. It will be the canvas to incubate ideas, and to test and develop concepts in real-world settings.

Polymer zoysia fairways, here we come! Just wash your hands a lot after playing at Incubator National.