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PGA of America President Brian Whitcomb (l) and CEO Joe Steranka touched on topics ranging from diversity to the Ryder Cup. (Photo: The PGA of America)
PGA of America President Brian Whitcomb (l) and CEO Joe Steranka touched on topics ranging from diversity to the Ryder Cup. (Photo: The PGA of America)

Efforts to grow the game increase in scope and success

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The world of golf keeps growing and so do the PGA of America's goals. During their annual State of the Association news conference, PGA officials discussed their many programs to expand and improve the game and the industry.

Editor's note: Here is the transcript of the 2008 PGA State of the Association news conference, held Jan. 17 at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla.

JULIUS MASON: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm Julius Mason, the senior director of communications and media relations for the PGA of America, and I'd like to welcome you to the 55th PGA Merchandise Show and the PGA America's State of the Association news conference.

Sitting in front of you at the head table from Bend, Oregon, is the owner of Lost Tracks Golf Club, the president of the PGA of America, Mr. Brian Whitcomb. And from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, the Chief Executive officer of the PGA of America, Mr. Joe Steranka.

We also have some other guests in the audience that we'd like to you meet. From Ludlow, Vermont, where he is the vice president and general manager of the Okemo Valley Golf Division at Okemo Valley Golf Club, the vice president of the PGA of America, Mr. Jim Remy. From Phoenix, Maryland, where he is the head professional at Hillendale Country Club the secretary of the PGA of America, Mr. Allen Wronowski .

We are also joined by several of PGA of America's board of directors in the house, from Reed Exhibitions, the president and CEO, Chet Burchett. Executive vice president, Nancy Walsh, senior vice president Dennis McDonald, and PGA Golf Exhibitions vice president and show manager, Ed Several.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, it's my pleasure to turn the microphone over to Mr. Whitcomb.

BRIAN WHITCOMB: Thank you, Julius, very much and welcome to the PGA Merchandise Show right here at the Orange County Convention Center. I've served as the president of PGA of America just over 14 months, and to see all of you here interested in the state of the Association, as well as the state of the game is very, very heartwarming as I believe we represent and protect the greatest game of them all, the game of golf.

I've got a bunch of information here in front of me and I know Joe has a lot, too. So if you will forgive me, I'll refer to these notes quite often and there's a wealth of information that I want to make sure I get the opportunity to express all the things happening not only with our association but the game of golf that the PGA of America has influence with.

First of all let's talk about the Merchandise Show. We have over a million square feet of floor space, our 55th PGA Merchandise Show, we have miles and miles of aisles, 1,200 companies and there will be 45,000 PGA professionals and leading industry experts and people of influence with regards to either buying equipment, products or services to serve the golfer better so this is a very vibrant show and we could not be happier to be here at the Orange County Convention Center.

This is a week filled with a lot of activities. Some of you were at the forum this morning for the United States economic impact conversation with some of our great panelists, led by Joe Steranka, as well as some other people from other allied associations, friends of ours.

This evening we'll have our awards banquet, and it's a wonderful evening and we hope that you'll all be there. Jim Huber will be our Master of Ceremonies. It stands to be a wonderful evening where we celebrate not only the best there is in the ranks of the PGA of America, but once again we celebrate the great game and hope you'll be with us at 5:30 in the auditorium.

Yesterday we had an historic day and we held for the first time our 91st Annual Meeting right here at the Merchandise Show and it was a chance for inclusion, it was a chance for our transparency of our governance and it was a chance for our grass roots and PGA professionals to be more engaged, and to see the governance of their association at work and it was also a chance during an open forum to visit and their points of view relative to activities going on.

Seven new board members sworn yesterday and ask them to stand and they will serve the PGA of America over the next three years. Gentlemen, thank you very much. It's a busy time and look forward to the work that you do on behalf of the 28,000 men and women Professionals as well as the game of golf.

Want to visit just a little bit about the upcoming calendar for the year. Of course the Senior PGA at Oak Hill Country Club this year, our PGA Professional National Championship at Reynolds Plantation in Georgia. Our PGA Championship will be held at Oakland Hills just outside of Detroit, Michigan, and of course the preeminent event in all of golf will be held at Valhalla in Kentucky in September. It's a wonderful time for premier events on marquis and wonderful golf facilities.

This is an exciting year for our Ryder Cup. Paul Azinger is our captain, who as you all know has done a remarkable job to date, not only in the Commonwealth of Kentucky but as well as the city of Louisville and all around the country trying to create that home-field advantage and home-field feel and Paul is one of those people that he's got a magnetism about him and we couldn't be anymore proud to have Paul as our captain.

This year we are doing something different and Paul as instrumental with our fellow officers to the way the team is comprised. The points system is more heavily weighted this year and the second year of the points accumulation and last year points were only awarded for our major championships.

This year, points will be awarded throughout the season and we have changed from not only two captain's picks but to four, and again, the idea of that is that Paul, our captain, Captain Azinger, can choose the hottest players and players playing the very best at that time and he gets to defer those picks that historically happened the Monday morning after the PGA Championship until September 2nd of this year. So we're excited about that and look forward to his picks and to bring the Cup back to the American side.

At the same time, I think all of us recognize that golf, like life sometimes is a game of momentum and I certainly need to tip my hat and certainly celebrate the accomplishments of the European Team. They have played well to date and we just hope that this year is our turn to sway that tied of momentum back on our side.

Shifting gears a little bit, like to talk just about the Play Golf America -- Play Golf America is alive and well. Of course, it's our development golf efforts. M.G. Orender was the orchestrator of that when he was our president and is still the chairperson of Play Golf America. We've had wonderful results, and as Play Golf America started out in its infant stages, it had limited activities and opportunities within that.

But the sphere of influence and the umbrella that Play Golf America holds over a myriad of different events has been staggering and very, very good, and has produced a lot of positive results. We had 806,000 participants in group lessons last year through Play Golf America and 8.3 million total participants in organized play that were directly related to Play Golf America.

Some other issues that we put under Play Golf America were a Free Lesson Month that is very, very vibrant and positive, and I think we had over 7,600 PGA professionals take part in that and we had a record amount of free lessons and that has a direct economic impact not only to the game of golf but to the facilities where our PGA Professionals work. We had Women's Golf Week, and that is a $16 million economic impact on the golf industry.

So Play Golf America is our adult development program. It's up and running. It's vibrant, there's more work to be done and PGA Professionals and the PGA of America association are ready to answer a call to action with regards to that.

We also embarked upon a program called PGA Performance Trak, and PGA Performance Trak has been widely recognized as having a lot of credibility with regards to data collection that would talk about the amount of rounds played, the revenue derived from those amounts of rounds played; and as well not only food and beverage and golf and ancillary activities, Performance Trak we have been using with the national golf course owner association and in partnership with them and very useful tools. As we keep going, and I'm sure Joe will talk about this in his turn about the economic impact studies that we are doing throughout the country, the Performance Trak plays a very, very vital role.

We had Free Fitting and Trade-Up Month in April, 2007 and realized a 10 percent increase in merchandise revenues for the people that took part; for the facilities that didn't, you could see just a 2 ? percent increase. So it shows that taking part in these very visible programs has a positive economic impact on what we are doing.

So Play Golf America is doing just what we thought it would do and just what PGA professionals stand ready to do, and it was a call to action to get more people to play this great game. And I can say it very passionately that there's nobody, there's nobody that can get more people to play golf better than PGA Professionals. We do it better than anybody else in the world and looking forward to those positive results as it continues to go.

For the eighth year, we have been able to financially assist the Executive Women's Golf Association. We are very proud of that. It's a great organization. It's a resource pool for the amount of play and we are very, very proud of it and that we can help them. They have done a lot of things very, very positive to the growth of golf. They can reveal that their membership spends as much as $85.6 million in golf and travel in 2007. That's a lot, and that's a reason why we have that positive relationship through the PGA of America.

So if we add all that together, Play Golf America is working fine and we've added one more thing and this is what I'd like to talk about now and that's how our Patriot Golf Day came to be. We have some people in front of us that we would like to recognize in just a moment. But regardless of your political inclinations regarding the conflict either in Iraq or Afghanistan, all of us as Patriots and Americans have empathy and respect for and support of efforts of our troops.

We've got some gentlemen here I'm going to speak of in just a moment. We started a program called Patriot Golf Day, and we especially listed the help of the United States Golf Association championed by a gentleman I would like to introduce in just a moment.

But we had 3,200 facilities in a very short amount of time that took part on September 1 and added significant dollars to the greens fees for that day to provide scholarships for the sons and daughters of the Fallen Heroes for the most worthiest of causes. I just tell that you representing the PGA Professionals to have the PGA Professionals and the game of golf be contributors and be meaningful part of that support is very, very heartwarming for me, and we can look forward to even more of the same as next year, August 29 through September 1, we will continue patriot golf, not day, but patriot Golf Week end and we look for bigger and better things; with a goal we hope of achieving 10,000 golf facilities in taking part and we look forward to the day when that happens.

I mentioned earlier that we have a gentleman who spearheaded this effort, and not only is he a wonderful person and maybe first and foremost he's a gentleman and a wonderful person, but he's a PGA member, but he's a captain in the Air Force reserves and has just done a wonderful job. With the Oklahoma Air National Guard, he was a finalist in the Washington Times Noble of the Year Award for his efforts and this gentleman enlisted the help of the PGA of America and the United States Golf Association. Collectively we were able to raise over $1.1 million this year, so I would ask all of you to say a warm hello to PGA member, Captain Dan Rooney. (Applause).

Dan, I'm going to do it again. He always gets mad at me for saying this, but you're looking at a true American hero, so we should all be very, very proud of his efforts and he asked me not to say that every time, but I can think of nothing prouder for me to say.

We did other things along the lines with our association and our relationship with the military. We worked Disabled Sports USA and Depart of Defense in our Wounded Warrior Program, and there's a professional, Jim Estes from Maryland at the Army Navy Country Club. For example, we were able to work with some of our disabled veterans and give them a ray of hope, an inspiration towards their recovery for the sacrifices that they made on our behalf so that we live in the freedoms that we do; and I was privileged enough to be there and it didn't stop there; it went on to San Antonio and it went on to San Diego so that we could give quality PGA lessons and instruction to our heroes and it was a privilege.

Today I want to introduce two of these heroes, retired Staff Sergeant Orlando Gill and Sergeant First Class Charles Eggelston. (Applause.)

I probably could have done this more smoothly and at the same time I want to take a moment to introduce Jim Estes. Jim was behind this effort, and I tell you in his tireless effort has opened his doors to no charge, come and get lessons from a PGA Professional one of the best there is. Jim, you represent the very best of all of us. Thank you.

Let's go on a little bit. There's some wonderful things that the PGA of America is doing but we didn't stop there. We've worked very hard on the charitable side that the game of golf can provide and that the PGA Professionals can help provide and Darrell Crall is our new executive director of the PGA Foundation where we raise funds and provide opportunities through the game of golf and through the efforts of PGA Professionals to provide relief for the people and in need, whether it's the military need and soldiers or all the way across the board as far as opportunity.

Darrell actually serves a dual role. He serves our executive director of our foundation and he's also the executive director of the Northern Texas PGA section. We look forward to your efforts.

We can talk a little bit more about the foundation, where we're at today and look forward to Darrell's even greater achievements. ClubCorp celebrated its 50th anniversary and conducted a fund-raiser and was able to raise $1.4 million, and we were so proud to be a portion of that, and that almost $300,000 of those funds were put into the PGA Foundation because of the integrity and the spirit by which we were able to put those dollars to use. And so we're very, very grateful to ClubCorp.

There's also a family, Mr. And Mrs. Bill Goodwin, they have produced $250,000 to our foundation. It's those type of efforts that seed our foundation. We enlisted the work and the expertise of people like Darrell Crall and we look forward to the day when the PGA of America can even provide more relief to the most neediest of people within our communities.

Shifting gears just a little bit, we've got another great source of pride and I'd like to announce to you that the first historical black colleges to be designated as PGM University, the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore. We are so excited about this, and we just met with the leaders there a few minutes ago and I would like at this time to recognize President Thompson to stand and be recognized. This is a big step, and we are looking forward to young men and women coming through your universities and becoming PGA members.

Earnie Ellison has worked for the PGA of America for years tirelessly on diversity, and I tell you that the association and myself look forward to the day when the PGA of America represents the face of America itself. I hope you will accept our absolute promise that we'll give you all the support that we can, and we look forward to the great work that you're going to do that lies ahead. And so it's a wonderful relationship that we have.

At the same time, we've hosted the National Minority Collegiate Golf Championships at Port St. Lucie, and we're able to give out through State Farm 11 years worth of support for this championship, and. I can tell you that these wonderful young men and women are coming out of these colleges and universities hopefully with a bias towards the game of golf and enter into the industry as PGA Professionals or some role within golf. But I can tell you because I've been there I think four or five times that they are coming out with enthusiasm and a zest for life and an interest at getting into the adult business world where they can do wonderful things in the future.

So I can tell you that we're very, very proud of that, and at the same time, for those of you that may not know, we have a board of directors comprised of 14 PGA members but we also have two independent directors and one of those is Mary Bea Porter King, an international director and lives in Hawaii and serves us very, very well.

I'm proud to enlist that we just enlisted the help of Junior Bridgeman, a gentleman from Louisville, Kentucky, who is not only a wonderful advocate for sport as he's played in the National Basketball Association for years, but a wonderful advocate for business and we look forward to his expertise in lending advice and again, working on diversity issues, and certainly Junior Bridgeman is a strong, strong addition to our team.

So all in all, I hope you recognize the PGA has been busy this year. The PGA of America answers the call to community needs, certainly is interested in the game of golf and providing some of the most visible sports events on the planet. But at the same time, we couldn't be any more prouder of our commitment to be responsible citizens in this community. I hope that's evidenced by PGA Professionals Dan Rooney and Jim Estes. It can't be much more evident than that and we are looking forward to Junior Bridgeman, University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, looking forward to all of those things that are going to happen.

In closing, I would just say to you two wonderful human beings and soldiers and heroes, thank you, thank you, thank you very much.

JULIUS MASON: Brian Whitcomb, ladies and gentlemen.

The PGA of America's CEO, Joe Steranka, ladies and gentlemen.

JOE STERANKA: It's easy to see how easy it is for me to promote the PGA of America brand and the PGA brand of golf professionals. Brian Whitcomb is the elected leader of 28,000 living, breathing ambassadors for our game. Our game is in great shape with people with your passion Brian, thank you very much.

This is an historic week as Brian said, not only from the standpoint of how we've brought PGA Professionals here in record numbers to the show. We have more than 8,000 professionals, about a thousand apprentices and a few hundred PGM University students who are here at the show.

But it's the first time, also, at that time industry has come together. We don't have an appointed industry association that represents all aspects of the game and the business of golf perhaps until now; the World Golf Foundation is becoming that. We are all big contributors of our time to lead some of the thinking and the strategy that looks at our game today and our game in the future.

And this morning, we made an announcement where we talked about the economic impact of golf in this country and I was mentioning to President Thompson, you know, often times our game is seen as a small game. It's still pretty much a small fraternity and sorority of people that love the game and work in the game. But we're big business. The $76 million a year number that was announced today is an example that we're a big industry, as well. Two million people in America put food on table for their families because of the golf business. And we're an $18 billion driver of tourism in this country.

There's a great report that's been done by the World Golf Foundation which you'll be able to get as part of your kits. At 28,000 professionals, the PGA is the largest sports organization in the world, so we certainly our membership and our association as the drivers, the catalysts of that $76 million a year industry.

And the economic benefit is equally matched by the environmental impact that our game has and we have some very positive information coming on just how responsible our industry is in being environmental leaders. But the human impact that Brian talked about with Dan and Disabled Sports USA, our work with Executive Women's Golf Association to bring more women into the game, certainly our diversity initiatives as evidenced by Maryland-Eastern Shore.

Earnie and I are going to be hosting a group of 18 minority-owned companies that are coming to our show for our first-ever supplier symposium we've done. Because we know that for us to grow the game we're going to need to see more women and we're going to see more people of color playing the game. And part of the way we'll do that is when, as Brian said, more PGA Professionals who are women and who are color are there greet them and teach them the game and fit them with the proper equipment and organize tournaments for them to play in.

That leads me to one of the things I wanted to mention. We're known for running the greatest tournaments in the world, the PGA Championship and the Senior PGA, the Grand Slam, The Ryder Cup and our PGA Professional National Championship. We do have a national championship for amateur golfers, as well, the PGA RSM McGladrey Team Championship. We are in our second year. We had our national finals at Pinehurst, if you understand. Jim Remy and I had a chance to go -- Brian, didn't one of your head professionals play in the event?


JOE STERANKA: In the Southwest Section. So it's a dream for many people to be able to tee it up, not just in a local championship or a regional championship, but to play at Pinehurst No. 2 is a dream for all of us. And so we're very happy with how that event came right out of the box, already a lot of excitement about additional courses signing up for 2008.

That leads me to the point that golf is local and the support of PGA Sections, we have 41 Sections around the country, Darrell Crall who heads up the North Texas Section is one example of that. But you'll continue to see the PGA of America invest in our Sections. Our North Florida Section hosts this particular event.

Part of the way we see promoting the PGA nationally and at the section level and at the grass roots level is through our brand. The PGA initials are arguably the most powerful initials in all of sports. We have our friends from the PGA of Japan here, I say "konichiwa" to you. And whether you're in Japan or in Australia, we have officials from the PGA of Great Britain and Ireland here in the audience. When you say PGA, people know what you're talking about. They know you're talking about the game of golf. They know you're talking about professional golf. And we're proud that whether it's the PGA of America or any PGA around the world, we represent the gold standard when it comes to golf professionals and professional behavior and an etiquette that we are very proud of in our game.

We introduced to our membership yesterday at the Annual Meeting the new PGA brand that you see. We're sharing some information on how our 28,000 members can become brand ambassadors. The February issue of PGA Magazine and our Annual Report right upstairs in the Member Business Center, we've got a whole host of merchandise that our members will be able to wear to promote their personal and professional affiliation with the PGA.

Certainly they are the first audience we are going to reach out to, but equally important are the people that employ PGA of America Professionals. We have a variety of material such as the performance, pride, passion profit kit that we sent out to employers. Our members really drive the four P's at their respective facilities.

Our members will be able to now provide to their employers more access to promote the fact that those facilities in this country are employing experts, and I really use that term "expert," who are experts at teaching you how to play, fitting you with the proper equipment and introducing your sons and daughters and spouses and friends to the game, as well, and it's the reason our members are the driving force.

From a public standpoint, the brand is going to become more accessible and we are getting terrific help from folks like Turner Broadcasting that also runs PGA.COM for us. This is a screen from the new PGA.COM that went live yesterday. You'll see more instructional information on that Web site and more features about the different experts who are within the PGA of America and are accessible to you. Again, it's that access to more golf experts that we think is going to help people enjoy the game.

Travel is another big part of it. The Professionals Guide to Travel is another example of we interviewed PGA Professionals, thousands of professionals and they all came up with what's their favorite California golf resort, what do they think is the best practice facility, what's the best clubhouse sandwich and 19th hole, all of things that we as amateur golfers look for.

You know, our time is a premium so if we are going to commit a week and a few of our hard-earned dollars to go relax on a golf holiday, we'd like the insight to what the pros know. So we are making that expertise more accessible through things like the Guide to Travel.

I mentioned the importance of corporate partners. American Express is helping introduce new customers to our members, so if you're an American Express cardholder, you can go get a lesson from one of these participating PGA Professionals there at, and also bring a friend along with you. And it's that partnership; our members are willing to invest some time in teaching people how to play and we're very pleased to see the American Express is bringing along some extra customers for our members. We think that's a real win-win.

Again, it's a great year for golf looking ahead, an exciting year with the Ryder Cup and be happy to take your questions at this time.

Q. What is the status right now of the West Coast PGA Learning Center outside of Vegas, where is that status-wise?

JOE STERANKA: It's the PGA Village at Coyote Springs, about an hour north of Las Vegas. The course is open. It's a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course that is just spectacular. I got a chance to play it with the founder and some of the partners of the developer not too long ago. It also has the PGA Learning Center that is roughed in, all of the turf is in, it's a gorgeous setting.

Now with the real estate business being what it is in this country, that won't have any critical mass of homes for a couple of years yet. They will begin sales later this year. So we'll begin introducing PGA members to it throughout this year, some of our sections will take trips out there. So it will be kind of a preview year for the PGA Village. It will be up and operating in a couple of years.

Q. We are pretty excited that we are going to have the PGA Championship in a few months (in Rochester) hopefully everything is going pretty good why your side because we're pretty happy.

JOE STERANKA: Oak Hill, you can't top Oak Hill in terms of a great club. And I say that, the golf course is certainly a classic course and has produced a lot of memorable moments, but the people who lead that club are terrific people, as well. Yes, we are excited to get back.

BRIAN WHITCOMB: The City of Rochester is a great sport town and we're excited to be there and of course we think of Oak Hill and the community there with fond memories from other events that we've held there.

Q. Diversity was a big part of your address, given all that's transpired in the last week and a half, could you assess the state of diversity, not just in the PGA but golf overall?

JOE STERANKA: We're very proud of what golf is doing from a diversity standpoint. Certainly we see the PGA of America as having taken the lead. You know, Shoal Creek several years ago was a turning point for golf and for the PGA of America.

But if you look at every aspect of our business, you know, from the inclusion of certified minority-owned companies as vendors at our championship events to the growing ranks of people of color and the PGA apprentice program and some of our more recent efforts to accelerate the pace with which professionals of color come into our membership; you know, the addition of the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, the PGA is leading it and it has widespread support throughout the golf industry. So we think golf is very focused on it and serious efforts on it such as The First Tee are terrific, as well.

The recent things that happened with Kelly Tilghman's statement, it's been well reported and Kelly has said she made a mistake; what she said was wrong. Some of the other coverage of that subject has been unfortunate and disappointing and not in the spirit of how we think the issue should be handled.

So we are going to choose to focus on the efforts of the PGA and we are very proud of our efforts and that of the industry to be inclusive of more women's initiatives, people of color initiatives and getting more women and people of color involved in the game and the profession.

Q. Are you envisioning any programs to use HBCUs and that fact as a feeder for the PGA TOUR as these players develop?

JOE STERANKA: Yes, very much.

Q. And how do you get involved in that?

JOE STERANKA: Come see me afterwards, but yes, that's certainly our goal is to align ourselves with like-minded people and organizations, and we think the combination of both sets of resources can allow us to be even more successful together.

Q. I'd like to congratulate the PGA and for the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore for this historical partnership. It's been a long time coming and I congratulate you opponent those efforts and I look forward to seeing more of the HBCUs being endorsed by this wonderful program. For those that do not know, I'm sure everybody in the golf industry is aware that there is an African-American woman who has purchased a major property in Florida, Sheila Johnson has purchased the properties at Bonaventure, and there are a lot of golf courses there. So we are looking forward to working with you and your efforts to continue to provide real serious access to women and people of color in the golf industry.

JOE STERANKA: Thank you.

BRIAN WHITCOMB: Thank you for your comment. I think you used a key word. We all need to "continue" and I appreciate your comments but there's more to be done.

JOE STERANKA: Brian's too modest, but he's been a big supporter of the Powell family and personally spent a lot of time with Bill and Renee and Larry. We see clearly as another great icon of African-American entrepreneurship for golf, and I know I'm part of the work of the World Golf Foundation and the LPGA in particular to help sustain the legacy far into the future, and that's important, as well.

We have a former Distinguished Service Award winner who has helped guide me personally and the PGA a lot in the areas of diversity, Bill Dickey, who had a stroke this week, and so I just want to send out our thoughts and prayers to Bill.

Q. What is on the docket for 2008? What are some things maybe you haven't talked about or things that you're looking to grow?

JOE STERANKA: The national economic impact study is one piece of a larger effort to elevate the stature of the game and the business of golf in this country. On April 16, the PGA of America, the PGA TOUR, the LPGA, the Club Managers Association, the USGA, the Golf Course Owners Association and the Golf Course Superintendents, seven leading national organizations, are going to come together in Washington, D.C. for an event we're calling National Golf Day. And it points out the need for us to speak as one voice in Washington, D.C. or state capitols about the influence of our game and our business.

That will be another historic step in representing our game, and people are asking, obviously, well, what's your goal there. Short term, there are pieces of legislation, there was a Katrina Tax Relief Act passed December of 2005 that excluded golf courses from being able to access redevelopment towers, and there have been some water issues at the state level or a tax assessment issue, some more at the state levels.

But we think it's important for us to explain not just the great values of the game we talked about earlier that we are proud of, but the positive business impact that golf has, so that will be a long-term benefit for our industry, it will raise the stature of golf as an industry in the country, we're bigger than the motion picture and newspaper publishing industry and a lot of folks don't know that.

I would say on the player development front, we are focused on a few new initiatives. I see Pam Swanson who runs the Executive Women's Golf Association in the audience, and to partner with them on several new women's initiatives, to grow women's participation, we do think that's a huge opportunity, and so you'll see some more information on that this spring.

Also with it being a Ryder Cup year, I can guarantee you that the whole world will start turning the attention to the Ryder Cup. It usually has four big crescendos, the four major championships, where they can make jumps on points earned during Ryder Cup year so that will be a big part of what we focus on this year, as well.

BRIAN WHITCOMB: I could add to that a little bit from the PGA Professionals' standpoint that what happens in a board room quite a bit, we take a philosophical view where we look at diversification of our professionals and trying to create pathways of excellence towards that end. And at the same time, we need to make sure that our core skills, that's the playing and the teaching and the promotion of the game are held intact.

And so from the PGA Professionals' perspective, I think we make sure that we try to balance those two endeavors to look to bolder and greater opportunities for PGA Professionals, but also so dear to most of us as PGA Professionals, those core skills, playing the game, teaching the game and the promotion of the game.

Q. Maybe you could comment on the Katrina efforts?

JOE STERANKA: A lot of folks are familiar with the project in Atlanta, East Lake, and their foundation, which was an urban redevelopment project, and no city is in greater need in this country than New Orleans right now in developing its communities and its industry.

And we're through our Gulf States Section have pledged support for a project that brings together the allied associations at the local level in New Orleans and Louisiana, and that has received some approvals there locally.

So it's our hope that within a couple years we can play one of our national championships in New Orleans. We've talked about perhaps playing the PGA Professional National Championship and bringing national television coverage to a new course and a new citywide effort that would create jobs and bring tourists in and contribute to the economy as I talked about earlier.

JULIUS MASON: Questions? Questions twice? Thank you very much for joining us today and have yourselves a brand new PGA day.

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