PGA CEO: “Over the last 25 years, we’ve done a lot to try to kill golf."

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A strange but accurate quote from PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh at the PGA Frisco groundbreaking regarding how the game has evolved.

From Art Stricklin’s report on the groundbreaking of the Silicon Valley of golf:

“This project is to benefit the 29,000 (members), it’s certainly not for me,” Waugh said.

“Over the last 25 years, we’ve done a lot of try to kill golf. We’ve made it too hard, too expensive and taking too long. The one thing we haven’t done is make it too fun. This project is a chance to push back on that.”

The organization has already announced 23 national championships at the site which is scheduled to open for play in early 2022 and include PGA Championships in 2027 and 2034 and likely a Ryder Cup after that.

“We feel this will be the modern home of American golf,” Crall said at the groundbreaking.

Therefore the operative word with Frisco’s 36 holes will be fun.

GroundBreaking: A First Look At PGA Of America's New 36-Hole Frisco Facility

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The Dallas Morning News’ Scott Bell attended the Governor William J. Le Petomane Thruway, err, I mean, Silicon Valley of Golf groundbreaking on some of Frisco’s finest farmland.

The usual groundbreaking speeches and demos were presented, though refreshing in the videos below with Gil Hanse and Beau Welling discussing their works, the “fun” word was mentioned as the priority. Imagine that ten or fifteen years ago.

The golf portion includes two 18-hole championship courses -- the East Course and the West Course -- as well as a short course and practice areas. Organizers expect the new PGA of America headquarters to become the home of national player development and coaching programs.

In total, the city of Frisco expects more than $2.5 billion in economic development over the next two decades, according to an economic impact study it commissioned.

Preparation for major golf events is already underway

There will be no shortage of big events taking place at PGA Frisco.

The site has been promised 23 championship events over a 13-year span, including six majors across the PGA, LPGA and Champions Tours: PGA Championship (2027, 2034), Women’s PGA Championship (2025, 2031) and Senior PGA Championship (2023, 2029).

Ticket sign-ups for those events coming soon, get them if they ever have the chance to last!

A couple of preview videos, first with Hanse and Welling, and a second with a look at the land plan that includes a par-3 course and Himalayas “interactive” putting green.

Something Went Terribly Wrong With The Ryder Cup Ticket Sale, The PGA Of America Has No Explanation And Fans Have Turned Into Non-Fans

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Twitter gripes can be found any time tickets go on sale for an in-demand event. And while I have no scientific way of gauging the outrage over Wednesday’s “lottery” to purchase Ryder Cup tickets, it would appear unprecedented.

Worse for the enormous uptick in complaints and volume of scorned patrons has kicked off the 202 Ryder Cup countdown in nightmarish fashion.

But I bring some good news. More on that momentarily.

The primary issues involve the lack of a lottery sensibility detected by fans and a landslide of unsuccessful outcomes due to a combination of technical problems. The situation appears to have been worsened by immediate offers to the unsuccessful buyers for purchase of wildly marked-up prices on the PGA of America’s exchange partner, PrimeSport, with Sunday prices already starting at at $427.50 per ticket.  

The PGA of America, 2020 Ryder Cup hosts, had no further comment beyond a Tweet citing unprecedented demand. 

If you have the time, read the replies to that Tweet. The sheer volume and intensity of the complaints is pretty staggering given how many ticket buyers should have walked away with something for the highly anticipated event.

Despite the onslaught of unhappy replies covering the gamut of frustration to accusations of price fixing, the mood worsened when a second Tweet—receiving just as many angry replies—suggested to those unable to buy tickets from the PGA of America’s secondary market provider and purveyor of travel packages, PrimeSport.  A similarly disastrous post with equally vitriolic replies appeared on Instagram.

The notice to buy marked-up tickets greeted some waiting as long as three hours for the chance to buy Ryder Cup tickets. That’s a bit like being turned away from the nightclub and then being asked to pay for the privilege of sweeping the red carpet.

When combined with extensive reports of processing issues and “high volume” customer support messages, the reactions were extensive and ugly. The words “scam” and “fraud” and “class-action lawsuit” were widely bandied about, with fans questioning the year-long collection of email addresses only to sense there was little organization behind the lottery process.

I asked on Twitter about positive experiences and while some replied in the affirmative, the majority continued to reply about a terrible process, even when they did get through.

The entire affair is, if nothing else, a huge wake-up call for the PGA of America heading into the highly-anticipated affair. Demand to attend the matches appears unprecedented. This should have come as a surprise to no one given the passionate Wisconsin and worldwide Ryder Cup fan base.

Still, the inconsistency in wait times, experiences and overall satisfaction suggests the web technology was woefully unprepared for Wednesday’s sale. Even buyers who got through reported long waits, glitches and expressed gratitude after multiple click attempts helped finalized their purchase.

What this means for the on-site experience remains to be seen, but recent Ryder Cups have seen huge crowds despite only a few groups on the course at a time (Saturday and Sunday). Hazeltine National, host in 2016, worked well enough despite what appeared to be way more fans than the even could handle. But finding places to walk and sit at Hazeltine’s farmland-turned-golf course is a much different affair than Whistling Strait’s farmland-turned-rugged Pete Dye design.

I asked the PGA’s spokesperson for a ballpark on the number of daily tickets being sold was, but the PGA would not disclose. Needless to say, we also will never know how many tickets were guaranteed to the third party exchange beyond the pre-allotted travel packages.

So that good news I mentioned?

This year’s PGA Championship, aggressively priced and featuring huge ticket quantities scooped up by third party-exchanges, were sold at rock-bottom prices. While it’s hard to imagine $6 Ryder Cup tickets next September, do not be surprised to see another fire sale. Or maybe Captain Steve Stricker’s request will be realized, though given the difficulty of navigating Whistling Straits, be careful what you wish for:

Tour Championship Down From Tiger's Historic Win, Up Over 2017 But No Comparison To August PGA Championships

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The 2019 Tour Championship moved up the schedule a month to avoid the NFL and college football, while the PGA Championship moved to May.

In year one of the revamped schedule, both events lost ground in the ratings chase.

May’s 2019 PGA at Bethpage drew a 3.9 and was down 36%.

The 2019 Tour Championship’s final round 2.9 overnight was down substantially from last year’s Tiger Woods return to glory (5.1 overnight), but up from 2017, reports SBD’s Austin Karp. The Tour Championship was played in late September last year against NFL football.

While the 2019 Tour Championship was played a little later than a typical August PGA Championship, it’s worth noting that PGA’s in August drew some big numbers in recent years:

2018: 6.1

2017: 3.6 and lowest since 2008

2016 3.4 but still one of the bigger golf ratings of the year

2015 5.1 at Whistling Straits

Going back later, you’ll find plenty of 6’s, 7’s and 8’s for PGA Nielsen numbers and there is certainly the chance a PGA in May will have some big years.

But in year one of the new schedule, the PGA lost a lot of eyeballs—but kept audience sizes similar to the Players it replaced—and the Tour Championship/PGA Tour Playoffs essentially held it’s own against late summer Tour broadcasts of the past.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s Tour Championship suspension of play meant the Little League World Series’ USA final (2.1) easily beat the golf (1.5), while Sunday’s championship game drew a 2.0 to the Tour Championship’s 2.9 while going head to head.

USGA Increases Purses, Including $1 Million To This Week's U.S. Women's Open Champ

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With all the player whining about USGA purses in Golf Digest’s U.S. Open confidential, it’s noteworthy that the U.S. Open’s will both have the largest prize funds in championship golf (the $12.5 million for the men ties the Players). The PGA Championship did not increase its purse this year, sticking with $11 million, while the R&A has not announced an increase to the 2019 Open fund that will already be low with a weakened pound.

On the women’s side, the KPMG LPGA jumped to $3.5 million in 2017 and has seen bumps each year, now sitting at $3.85 million in 2019.

For Immediate Release:

USGA Solidifies Largest Purses Among All Major Championships

Prize money to be raised by $500,000 for 2019 U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open

 LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. (May 28, 2019) – The United States Golf Association (USGA) today announced that it will increase the purse for both the 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links and the 74th U.S. Women’s Open at the Country Club of Charleston by $500,000, furthering its commitment to provide competitors with an unmatched championship experience.

The purse for the 2019 U.S. Open will be $12.5 million, making it the largest of all major championships. This year’s U.S. Women’s Open purse will total $5.5 million, positioning it as the largest in women’s golf and ensuring that its champion – provided that she is a professional – will receive $1 million for the first time.

The announcement builds on substantial investments the USGA has made in all of its Open championships. Along with the debut of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open in 2018, which provides the largest purse in senior women’s golf at $1 million, the organization hosts the U.S. Senior Open, which also leads its demographic with $4 million in total prize money.

The USGA also provides a portion of the purse to all professionals who miss the cut at all four Opens. Amateurs in the field, a number that nears 30 in this week’s U.S. Women’s Open, receive reimbursement for travel expenses incurred during the championship week.

“The USGA is committed to providing an unparalleled experience to every player competing in its championships,” said John Bodenhamer, senior managing director, championships. “Through strategic investments in our player relations program, we are continuing the effort to create a competitor experience commensurate with the game’s most prestigious championships, and that includes an increased purse and a continued commitment to make playing in an Open championship unforgettable for the world’s top amateur players.” 

In March, longtime PGA Tour player and four-time U.S. Open competitor Jason Gore was hired as the association’s first senior director, Player Relations. His primary role focuses on interacting with professional and elite amateur players across the game, particularly competitors in the USGA’s Open and amateur championships. He also leads a full-time staff dedicated to player relations, including Liz Fradkin, who in her new role primarily focuses on women’s championships.

Back To The Black In Five Years, What To Do With 18?


Not much needs to be done at Bethpage Black for the 2024 Ryder Cup. 

Take down the rough cut for the bomb-and-gouge loving American team, more concession stands and way more grandstand seating, then convince presumptive Captain Phil Mickelson to talk the fans into a little bit more restraint when it comes to shouting out the first inappropriate thing that comes to mind.

Sure, some improvements are easier to accomplish than others. 

The most complicated of all involves the oft-discussed, widely loathed par-4 18th hole.

Tweaks were made this time around, more bunkers added to the already excessively-trapped, straightaway mess and a dreadful finishing hole remained so. The last time a major was played at Bethpage, the USGA tried to improve 18 by moving up tees and that just led to the regrettable sight of 6-iron lay ups and a sense that the hole was no better.

In the past, consideration was given to creating a hybrid hole utilizing the righthand bunker complex, the first fairway on the Red, and the current 18th green. Many others have advocated that players be asked to take a walk from the par-3 17th to the Red Course’s 18th tee.

For the 2009 PGA, the 18th played slightly over par but still offered a bizarre ending to the round. The bomb-and-gouge mindset, combined with a slight fairway widening, had players smacking driver and hoping for the best. 

I asked Brooks Koepka in his post-round press conference if he considered laying back with a two stroke lead. Never a consideration, he said. Koepka drove in the left bunkers, drew an awful, potentially calamitous lie, but managed a fine recovery out to the fairway. A wedge and putt sealed the victory. 

Koepka’s mindset on the hole was shared by nearly all of the field. As a match play finishing hole in Ryder Cup play, it’s hard to imagine an intriguing scenario where a player with the honor and a lead makes the decision to play safe, daring their opponent into a more aggressive play. Or any other interesting match play scenarios.

Because Bethpage Black’s 18th is not a good hole.

As Adam Scott noted when I asked him how he plays it, the 18th is the only driving hole at Bethpage Black that lacks some twist or turn to the fairway shape. That’s a trademark Tillinghast touch that remained part of the Black’s design despite his limited involvement and the erosion of shot values created by major championship manipulations.

The 18th hole’s design clashes with the rest of the Black in every way: strategically, visually and in the minds of players. Old photos show a little more twisting and rhythm to the landing area, but still not enough to make today’s players shape a shot to gain an advantage.

A reconsideration of the fairway bunkering could make a player shape a ball right-to-left around the bunkering to open up a better angle to the green. But in today’s game, such playing for angles is a lost art and there is little sign it will be restored with a rollback by 2024. 

A consolidation of the 13 bunkers to a more manageable number would be nice, too.

Which brings us back to the Ryder Cup question: should they fix the hole or just leave it since so few matches get to the home hole?

Doing nothing is likely to be the PGA of America’s conclusion to avoid controversy. Yet it was impossible not to ponder a much better option while walking the meandering, soulful and challenging Red Course finishing hole. It sat adjacent to the Black’s tent village on top of the Red’s first hole. The hole is close enough to the Black and finishes just as close to the clubhouse. Anyone could envision a Ryder Cup crowd in the beautiful amphitheater setting and matches concluding in far more satisfying fashion with real decision to be made off the tee and genuine reward for skill. Well, almost anyone.


You Could Have Watched Tiger Woods Play In A Major For $6 Today (Plus Service And Handling Fees)

2019PGAThursdayStubhub.jpg’s Joel Beall noted the incredibly small crowds for Bethpage practice rounds, a stunning contrast to 2018 at Bellerive where fans were lining fairways before the tournament even began.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, many of the holes boasted more volunteers than spectators, a sight especially true on the remote part—holes six through 12—of the property. A beverage vendor mentioned sales were "about 30 to 40 percent" off from their weekly forecast. And a fan noted on the fifth hole, “It’s more crowded out here on a normal Saturday.”

On Monday sports business writer Darren Rovell Tweeted about the low resale market prices, calling the lowest in recent major history. Make sure to read the replies if you want a laugh or insight into how the New York market sees things.

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A study of StubHub showed $6 prices Wednesday morning. Surely that would not happen again Thursday?

Despite Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka going out early in absolutely perfect first round weather, the resellers were giving tickets away again for round one. The Forecaddie says by sometime around 9 am, the price had dropped from a low of $16 to $6, not including handling fees (around $6). Large chunks of tickets were available for prices in the single digits.

Prices are higher for the remaining three days, but well under the $110 face value for general admission.

In February, the PGA of America touted robust, near-sellout situation, then CEO Seth Waugh touted a boost to sales after Tiger’s Masters win.

The Man Who Saved Bethpage's Major Venue Status Isn't Here

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Former PGA President Ted Bishop is given his rightful credit for his role in the idea to bring the PGA Championship and a Ryder Cup to Bethpage Black after the USGA had decided to pass on future U.S. Opens here. Former PGA CEO Pete Bevacqua and his team also deserve credit for getting the deal done, but as Herrmann writes, the idea started with Bishop:

Bishop was the PGA of America’s secretary, in line to be president, in September 2010 when he met at the park with state officials. The U.S. Golf Association had given up on Bethpage after two rain-drenched U.S. Opens. The PGA Tour had yet to hold its two FedEx Cup playoff events there (which turned out to be poorly attended).

“The future of championships at Bethpage, at the point we started talking, was obviously in doubt,” Bishop said from The Legends, the club in Franklin, Indiana, that he runs, serves as head pro and now is superintendent, too. “I knew about the concerns that everybody who loves Bethpage had, with funding and maintaining conditions going forward.”

Despite the USGA having pulled out, Bishop chose to dive in. His confidence was confirmed during a practice round for the 2010 Ryder Cup in Wales, when he was on the 18th fairway with Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler. “Just out of the blue,” he said, “they started talking about Ryder Cup venues and Phil says to Fowler, 'Can you imagine the home course advantage that we would have if they ever played this Ryder Cup at Bethpage.' "

The piece goes on to explain why Bishop isn’t here this week—hint, hint, the hard working PGA Board of Directors stripped him of his PGA status and celebrated the brilliant idea to return to Bethpage with some Hampton’s golf.

Must Be Nice Files: PGA CEO, Board Of Directors Tees It Up At NGLA On Championship Eve

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Either things are running so smoothly at your first major in May in ages or the leadership really isn’t needed at all. But it’s still quite a look to have the CEO and Board off in the Hamptons for some golf and lobster while the PGA is at Bethpage . That’s what The Forecaddie says the PGA Board of Directors, including president Suzy Whaley, were able to do on Wednesday of the PGA Championship.

How important was this outing? The organization even moved their traditional Wednesday press conference to Tuesday just for some NGLA golf. President Suzy Whaley posted images from this important off-site executive time session.

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.

State Of The Game 93: A.W. Tillinghast's PGA "Tour" With The PGA of America's Bob Denney, Plus Other Vital Stuff

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As we approach the PGA Championship there will be the inevitable discussion about A.W. Tillinghast’s role in the course’s final outcome. While that’s certainly a fun debate to have, the PGA of America’s first trip to Bethpage-Black offers a chance to revisit Tillinghast’s later-in-life work for the organization.

The PGA “Tour” started as a nice consulting job for the organization he was a longtime friend of, but became a major odyssey that sent the famed architect to around 500 courses to a wide variety of suggestions and assessments. You can read’s excellent description here with a list of courses.

I have worked with Golf Channel on a feature about this and Tillinghast’s fairly anonymous last years that will air a few times in the coming days, first on the CBS presentation of the “Road to the PGA.” That show re-airs Monday night on Golf Channel.

In the mean time, Rod Morri, Mike Clayton and I were joined by the PGA of America’s Bob Denney, who has preserved the bound volumes of Tillinghast correspondences and notes made by headquarters. These historic letters have moved around a lot and the golf world owes a debt of gratitude to Bob and the PGA for saving them (digital versions of most can be seen here thanks to the Tillinghast team of Wolfe, Wolfe, and Trebus!).

Here’s the pod! As always you can get it wherever fine pods are streamed, or here at the iTunes store.

Wells Fargo Extends For Five Years Except When Quail Hollow Hosts The Presidents Cup, Reminding Us Of News We'd Tried To Forget

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Congrats to all for extending Wells Fargo’s sponsorship of the Charlotte stop at Quail Hollow, the oft-remodeled and over-extended design that was probably once very charming.

In 2021, when Quail lulls us to sleep during the Presidents Cup, the Wells Fargo will go north to the TPC Potomac outside Washington D.C. where players will experience “Scottish style bunkering”.

Also note this extension takes Quail Hollow through 2024 as host of the Wells Fargo. Remarkably, the club is believed to be a candidate for the 2026 PGA Championship as well. Currently that date is open, which is saying something given that almost all PGA dates have been filled or penciled in until 2031.

Wells Fargo Extends Sponsorship of Wells Fargo Championship by Five Years
Quail Hollow Club remains host site of prestigious event in Charlotte 

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – April 30, 2019 – Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), the PGA TOUR and tournament host organization Champions for Education announced today that Wells Fargo has extended its sponsorship of the Wells Fargo Championship through 2024 after signing a five-year extension. The announcement was made today by leaders from Wells Fargo, the PGA TOUR and Champions for Education.

Quail Hollow Club, home to the Wells Fargo Championship since its PGA TOUR debut in 2003, will continue to host the event.

“Since 2003, the Wells Fargo Championship has established itself as a premier event in the sports-rich city of Charlotte, with a supportive fan base, outstanding host venue and highly engaged title sponsor,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan. “It also continues to impact the community through the charitable efforts of Champions for Education, for which Wells Fargo has played a major role. The Wells Fargo Championship is a favorite stop among our players, and we are excited to announce that this relationship will continue for an additional five years.”

The 2018 Wells Fargo Championship generated more than $1.5 million for Charlotte-area charitable organizations, raising the tournament’s all-time total to $22 million.

“The Wells Fargo Championship is one of the most engaging expressions of our brand, and we’re thrilled to continue to delight golf fans, Wells Fargo team members, PGA TOUR players and the greater Charlotte community with our sponsorship of this event,” said Jamie Moldafsky, Chief Marketing Officer of Wells Fargo. “We’re especially proud of the positive impact we are able to generate in the greater Charlotte community in support of organizations including the Championship’s three primary beneficiaries: The First Tee of Greater CharlotteLevine Children’s Hospital and Teach for America.”

Jason Day returns as defending champion, winning last year by two strokes over Aaron Wise and Nick Watney. It was his 12th career PGA TOUR victory.

“The Wells Fargo Championship is an important part of the fabric of the community and today’s announcement allows us to continue to support our charitable efforts,” said Wells Fargo Championship Tournament Director Gary Sobba. “It is also an exciting time for our 2,300 volunteers—many of whom are Wells Fargo team members. We are fortunate that our tournament has become a popular spring tradition for PGA TOUR players, our partners and fans throughout the Carolinas.”

Quail Hollow Club President Johnny Harris said, “Today’s announcement is special for Quail Hollow Club members and staff. From the beginning, our goal was to create an exciting environment for the players, patrons, and partners as we gather to celebrate the game of golf and incorporate the tremendous support of the community. We are so honored by the success of this annual event and are grateful for all who have helped us along the way. We have been fortunate to host the best players in the world and are looking forward to welcoming them back for years to come.”

Because of the Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow Club in 2021, the event will move for one year to TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm in Washington, D.C. Known for its natural rolling terrain and Scottish-style bunkering, this well-regarded venue has played host to past PGA TOUR events.

Has The Official World Golf Ranking Outlived Its Usefulness?

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Rex Hoggard examines the PGA Tour’s increasingly hostile view of the Official World Golf Ranking and suggests the best way to fix the ranking is to stop using it.

The PGA Championship uses its own points list, a one-year ranking based on official earnings, along with a variety of other criteria. Not included in the qualification for the year’s second major is a player’s position in the world ranking, although officials do historically dovetail special exemptions to those inside the top 100 to assure no one slips through the cracks.

The point remains valid, however. There are now endless ways to identify competitive merit without becoming mired in the world ranking weeds.

Perhaps the game’s best minds can conjure a solution to the current ranking problems, but if we’re being objective the entire analysis is starting to feel like an exercise in diminishing returns. Organizations like the PGA of America and R&A don’t need the world ranking to identify the best players any longer.

The point is a strong one assuming that any replacement in use to fill a field does attempt to weave in the entire planet. Or else we’ll just end up with a new ranking again.

PGA Rolls Out Plans, Timeline For It's Grow The Game Move To Frisco, Texas, Home To Future PGA's And Ryder Cups

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We’re making the world a better place! I mean, Grow the game!

It’s a tired mantra wheeled out to sell just about anything in golf, including, repeatedly by new PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh in lieu of just saying, “we got a great deal to develop a project in Texas that’s aligns perfectly with our organization’s history of partnering on projects and eventually walking away from them.”

I guess that doesn’t quite sing like grow the game and Silicon Valley, assuming he’s referring to the region and not the television show.

Anyway, the new development will have a monster Omni Hotel, offices to process those pricey PGA member dues and will serve as the 2027 PGA Championship host site. Also, a possible 2040 Ryder Cup is headed there, with the task force inevitably penciling in Captain Jordan Spieth in Frisco to play the 7,603 yard Gil Hanse course as the primary venue. The project breaks ground this winter and debuts three years later with the 2023 PGA Senior Championship.

Beau Welling will be doing the second course. (Awkwardly, Hanse recently renovated one of Welling’s biggest projects from the Fazio years, Pinehurst No. 4.)

Art Stricklin for, explaining the inspiration for the Hanse design:

The East Course, measuring 7,603 yards from the back tees with a par of 72, has already been tapped to host two PGA Championships, the first in 2027 and another in ’34, along with a tentative Ryder Cup in 2040.

Hanse, who designed the Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has recently redone Pinehurst No. 4 and is currently working on a complete renovation at Oakland Hills GC, outside Detroit. But it was his recent redo of the Maxwell classic at Southern Hills CC in Tulsa, Okla., that motivated him for the PGA Frisco project.

“I think you saw a true restoration of the (original) Maxwell course at Southern Hills and you’ll see a lot of stylistic imports from Maxwell at the PGA course here,” Hanse said Monday a press event for the new PGA of America HQ. “I haven’t been to all the Maxwell courses, but you will see the deep bunkers around the greens and the smaller greens. That’s part of what I hope to see [here].”

This Tweet lists the championships committed to Frisco:

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A Tweeted map of the Hanse design:

They had a diverse group for the big rollout…some men in ties, some not in ties.

PGA Of America "Officials" Will Be Taking A Helicopter To Bethpage From New York City, And You Can Too For $4300!

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Thanks to reader John for this almost April 1-worthy PGA of America release proving more than ever that the officers and leadership are thinking of solutions for themselves.

The PGA membership?

If you can afford to stay in New York City, they’ve got a great way to commute to Bethpage State Park for this May’s PGA Championship. Maybe there will be post-PGA lessons included with Bethpage’s vast PGA-trained staff as well?

For Immediate Release…

PGA of America and Bell announces helicopter program for the 101st PGA Championship at Bethpage Black

The PGA of America today announced, in collaboration with Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT) company, a new and innovative transportation solution to the 101st PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. The partnership between Bell and the 2019 PGA Championship will offer an unparalleled flight program that will transport key stakeholders - including C-Suite executives, corporate hospitality clients and PGA Officials – from multiple sites in Manhattan and surrounding New York Metro corporate centers to/from an on-site landing zone located at Bethpage State Park, just minutes from the PGA Championship.

Oh at the park, how charming! Can’t wait to hear that noise as we try to watch a major championship.

As part of the relationship, Bell will be the Official Helicopter Provider of the 2019 PGA Championship. This 2019 PGA Championship-specific flight program will utilize two types of aircraft, Bell’s class-leading 429 and Bell 407 models, both of which deliver a smooth ride, optimal comfort and unsurpassed visibility.

We want to make sure you can look down on the little people!

Bell will coordinate operations with their longtime customer, Zip Aviation and BLADE, the leading on-demand flight service in/around New York City.

 “The PGA is excited to be working with Bell in New York around the 101st PGA. Via this relationship, we’ll be providing an innovative transportation solution to the PGA Championship while also enhancing our corporate hospitality program,” said PGA of America Director of Championship Sales and Marketing John Handley. “To work with Bell, an industry leader in the aerospace sector, also aligns with our strategy of being a technological leader in the golf industry.”

When we think technology in golf, some might believe that means better helping all PGA of America professionals adapt to things like launch monitors and other tools of the trade, but really we’re about how to best move fat cats to and from our major. Handy though if an officer is battling a DUI!

“Bell is proud to provide aircraft to services like Zip Aviation and BLADE who give customers precious time back when traveling,” said Susan Griffin, executive vice president of Commercial Sales, Bell. “We are excited to offer customers attending the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black a one-of-a-kind experience and raise the bar for air travel in one of the world’s most popular corporate helicopters, the Bell 429.”

While tickets for the PGA are very much still available at $110 plus tax for each round, that looks like a bargain compared to the Zip Aviation-PGA costs.

Roundtrip tickets starting at $4276? But remember, you may get to sit next to a PGA official!

Note the locations as well.

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Bamberger To Suzy: Bring Back Ted!

Ah remember when the controversies were seemingly so petty? Michael Bamberger, in his weekly column of best things in golf, has several fun items, including this:

Ted Bishop, the outspoken former PGA of American president, came rushing back to mind last week when he wrote an insightful piece about Steve Stricker as the Ryder Cup captain. Bishop’s bio blurb noted that he was the 38th president of the PGA of America. As it happens, the Honda event this week is played at a course owned by the PGA of America, PGA National. The 41st and current PGA president, Suzy Whaley, is the first female president of the organization. Bishop’s two-year term has been all but wiped clean from PGA history and he enjoys none of the privileges that come from being a former president, like an invitation-for-life to the Ryder Cup! You might recall his offense: In a post Ryder Cup tweet in 2014, Bishop called Ian Poulter a “Lil girl.” Yes, it was an inane thing to write. But our language, via Twitter and otherwise, has been so debased since then if Bishop or anybody else wrote that today it would be a pebble in an ocean. The point here is this: isn’t it time for Bishop to be brought back into the fold, where he can have his place of honor among former PGA Presidents including George Sargent, Ed Dudley and Max Elbin? Suzy Whaley, an accomplished player and a bright leader in golf, would be the ideal person to do it, or at least initiate it. #rehabilitation.

Given that Whaley couldn’t wait to condemn former prez Bishop while standing by DUI-arrestee Paul Levy the last two years, don’t get your hopes up.

PGA CEO Waugh On Natural Cynicism, Becoming The United Nations Of Golf And Dropping The Pine Valley Membership

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New PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh sat down with Morning Read’s Adam Schupak to discuss his vision for the PGA as a the United Nations of golf and several other topics. He may have said too much, oh, throughout most of the chat.

There's a natural cynicism of the members about HQ. There's this feeling that we get to drive our courtesy cars and we're sitting down there in Florida and all this money is rolling in and, What's in it for me? I've got three kids going off to school, and my lesson book is going down, and I don't have any health care and whatever. They're right.

Well that’s why that cynicism has been natural all these years.

We have to figure that out if we want this to work. We have an army of 29,000 people who are the best army in the game to make it better. We need to figure out how to make their lives better and incent them to do the things to make that all happen. The selfish thing is, if we figure it out, we'll have a more passionate group to get it done for us. That's what I'm hoping, and that's why I'm here.

Don’t worry, the board will put a stop to this wonderful outlook! A little later on…

I think the PGA is in a unique position to be that United Nations of golf, if you will, the Switzerland of golf. We're for the game at every level. We just want everyone to play and like and have as much impact as we can. Being that objective observer on things and uniter around the game and sort of thinking at the end of the day we just need to cook the biggest turkey so we can all eat the most meat, right, and that's what we're about rather than, do we get the breast or the thigh or the leg? That's certainly how I'm approaching it.

We’ll remember that when the PGA of America and PGA Tour oppose any action by the USGA and R&A.

This wasn’t so hot…

AS: Anything you would've done differently handling former PGA president Paul Levy's being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol?

SW: I don't think so. I know everyone wants to compare it to Ted Bishop. I wasn't there for Ted, so I don't really have an opinion about that one. But for the one I was there for, I don't think it was a capital crime. He went out on a Saturday night, not on PGA business, wasn't representing the association, shouldn't have driven home, and he did. Thankfully, nobody was hurt, including himself. It's horrible. I'm not trying to justify a DUI.

Eh you kinda did.

It's totally unacceptable, but are you supposed to lose your life and job?

Actually, he’d already lost his job. The only PGA president to ever serve without one.

I don't think it's a capital crime. His reaction was one of total humility, total contriteness, total embarrassment, and threw himself on the cross with no excuses, no anything, and I think that's important, too.

Actually the organization hid him from public view until a trophy ceremony resurfacing at the PGA Championship.

I think our reaction was appropriate, not an overreaction, but a significant one to give him time to figure it out and come back a period of time later with what he learned with a chance to apologize, and so I think it was appropriate. I do.

The PGA membership is still waiting for that apology, or even an acknowledgement of what happened. That’s hardly contrite.

AS: I wouldn't term Ted Bishop's actions a capital crime, either. Do you agree?

SW: Having not been there and having taken a little time to try to understand it, I think the difference was it was an accumulation of things, No. 1, and No. 2, was his reaction was very different. He was not humble about it. He was aggressive about it, and he was representing the PGA. He was using his pulpit to say something, and while we may not judge it to be a capital offense, a lot of the world was judging it to be a capital crime in this environment. Not being there, it wasn't something that just blew over, and maybe it could've. He did a lot of great things for the association. I've never met him, but there are a lot of people who think the punishment didn't fit the crime.

So much for “I wasn't there for Ted, so I don't really have an opinion about that one.”

This was newsworthy given that many other golf executives and leaders are members at Pine Valley:

AS: What is your current roster of golf memberships?

SW: Seminole, Lost Tree and Old Marsh down here. I guess I'm a member at PGA National, too. Then there's Old Town in Winston-Salem [N.C., where his son played college golf, at Wake Forest]. I voluntarily gave up Pine Valley and Garden City because of the single-sex thing. I didn't think that would be fair to the clubs or the association if that came out. Deepdale, Westhampton, Quogue [Field Club], National [Golf Links], Shinnecock, Cypress Point and San Francisco Golf Club, Boston Golf Club, Lahinch in Ireland and Royal Aberdeen in Scotland. Too many.

Interesting to see the single-sex club issue impacting his thinking and noteworthy. Will others follow suit?

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. 


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….


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 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