Seth Waugh, CEO of the PGA of America, acknowledges that golf had become a stagnant industry. However, the past few years have brought a renewed interest, which has taken a major upward turn recently.
One of the boosts to the sport was the pandemic, which led to an increase in participation. Additionally, new ways to play, such as Topgolf and simulators, have become increasingly popular. Furthermore, the news in May that the PGA Tour plans to merge with rival LIV Golf, which was previously seen as a destructive force in the industry, has turned heads.
The PGA of America is currently the largest sports organization globally with 28,000 members. Club professionals who teach the sport are among its members along with a number of properties in the professional game. The organization is responsible for hosting a number of events such as the Ryder Cup, which is considered the greatest spectacle in the game. They also own the PGA Championship and the women’s PGA Championship, the KPMG, along with the KitchenAid Senior Championship. They oversee various other events throughout the year such as the PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship, which hosts the HBCU National Championship, and Junior League, a youth program.
In an interview at the Sportico Bruin sports conference in Kiawah, South Carolina, conducted by ’s Andy Serwer last April, Waugh spoke about his Wall Street roots and how golf is leveraging technology to keep up. Although they did not request it, ’s reached out to Waugh after news of the PGA-LIV Golf merge was confirmed to get his thoughts on it.
Waugh’s thoughts about LIV Golf remain unknown, but his conversation with Serwer regarding the PGA of America’s role and its upcoming projects is something worth paying attention to.
Growing the Game of Golf
In a recent interview, the President of the United States Golf Association (USGA), said that when it comes to golf, they are the whole pool. They start with the first shot and end with the final shot, and they have the highest level of the game.
But how do they measure success in growing the game? The old way used to be measuring golf by 18 holes played, but that’s not the right metric anymore. There are so many ways to consume the game now, from new forms of courses like par 3s and putt-putt, off-course activities like Topgolf, Drive Shack, and simulators. In fact, for the first time in history, there are more off-course golfers than on-course golfers.
The good news is that participation in golf is growing. First-timers are at an all-time record, and the Juniors are at an all-time record. Women and girls and people of color make up the two fastest-growing cohorts in the game. The game is transforming and looking different than it has in the past. This transformation excites them about what that means for the future of golf.
Some time ago, there was a trend where the number of golf courses was shrinking. It happened because golf was overbuilt, and it was a way to create oceanfront property by building a golf course. However, this trend has levelled out five or six years ago, and now, there’s a complete reverse where new courses are being built.
Saving Golf: An Interview with the CEO of the USGA
In a recent interview, the CEO of the United States Golf Association (USGA) reflected on the current state of golf and the association’s efforts to continue growing the game while ensuring accessibility for all.
Restoring Public Golf Access
The CEO emphasized the importance of restoring public golf access to ensure that the growth of new golfers is sustainable. With more people taking up the sport, there is a concern about where they can play. The USGA is committed to helping restore municipal golf and other affordable options for people to access the sport. To achieve this, the association is endowing its foundation to support this effort.
LIV Golf vs Traditional League
When asked about the new LIV Golf league and its potential to disrupt the traditional league, the CEO remained skeptical. He highlighted the need for a better product or price to disrupt, and he doesn’t see LIV as offering either. The USGA is excited about the current state of golf and viewership, but also keen on ensuring the long-term viability of the sport.
Leadership in Golf Organizations
As someone who came from Wall Street, leadership in the golf industry is not entirely different. The CEO underscored that leadership practices, business acumen, teamwork, and caring for people remain vital across all industries. However, a key difference is that a golf organization has members to consider rather than shareholders.
Overall, the USGA is committed to growing and preserving the sport of golf. Through restoration of public access and thoughtful leadership, they aim to ensure that new golfers have access to affordable options without sacrificing quality.
The Future of Golf and Technology: A Conversation with Seth Waugh
As the CEO of the PGA of America, Seth Waugh is leading the charge in shaping the future of golf. In a recent interview, he spoke about his vision for the sport and the role that technology will play in its evolution.
Waugh sees disruption as a positive force for change in the golf industry, and he cites Callaway Golf’s purchase of Topgolf as an example of a company embracing technology to help drive the game forward. Callaway, a longtime partner of the PGA, is now positioning itself as a technology company, with a new business called Toptracer that uses technology to track the flight of golf balls on ranges.
For Waugh, technology is an important part of creating a culture of innovation within the PGA. He envisions a future where members can book everything online, from merchandise sales to tee times to lessons and more. This is something that the new generation of golfers expects, and Waugh believes that it will continue to evolve and shape the sport.
In addition to his vision for the future of golf, Waugh also shared a personal tidbit: his handicap is around nine. Despite his busy schedule as CEO, he still finds time to hit the links and stay on top of his game.
As the PGA continues to embrace technology and innovation, there’s no doubt that Waugh will be at the forefront of this exciting evolution.