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Roundtable transcript

Here is the transcript from the PGA's annual Media Roundtable, conducted Thursday at the PGA Merchandise Show. Participating were PGA of America President Allen Wronowski, PGA CEO Joe Steranka, the Hon. Patrice Minors from Bermuda and Deb O’Connor of KitchenAid.

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PGA CEO Joe Steranka, PGA President Allen Wronowski, the Hon. Patrice Minors from Bermuda and Deb O'Connor of KitchenAid posed before conducting the 2011 PGA Media Roundtable on Thursday. (Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America)

ALLEN WRONOWSKI:  I can't thank each of you in the room enough for taking time to be here to visit with us.  It's just been a great few days since we started Sunday with the merchandise of the year conference.  As you can see from outside, it's a good show and we'll get back to those touch points in a minute.

It's my privilege and honor, this is my first visit with you as the president of The PGA of America.  I was elected in November 6, and I know that all of the association was grateful for the great job that Jim Remy did during his tenure and his two-year term.  It's not any president that ever wants to see an economic tsunami come there way and some of the challenges he went through and Jim more than responded to the occasion and did a great job and set up a lot of ways for me to continue what our association has done since 1916.

To tell you a little bit about me:  I am a club professional that teaches a lot, runs tournaments a lot, promotes the game as much as I can, and I've been very, very blessed and fortunate to be at the same facility for 31 years.  I went to Hillendale as the assistant professional, was elevated to head professional, and am now the director of golf working more with the marketing and promotion of the club.

While I do work at a club, I still know what the challenges of the industry are.  The days of my waiting lists are over.  The days of trying to find new members has gotten more challenging.  Trying to get people out to play the game has been quite a challenge.  A lot of what I said at the Annual Meeting and most of my two-year tenure, we're going to talk a lot about player development and how do we grow the game.  You saw a report the other day from the National Golf Foundation that said we will get to 30 million players but it will be 2020 and I have aggressively said would I like to get to that number before I leave office in November of 2012.

So we are really going to focus on a lot of different areas out how we can do that.  One of the things we have done is to contract a consulting firm, Boston Consulting Group, and they are taking a really good look at us from within    Joe, you are talking about that, right?

JOE STERANKA:  A little.

ALLEN WRONOWSKI:  Or I can.

JOE STERANKA:  We'll talk about it together.  We're working on it together.

ALLEN WRONOWSKI:  It was approved by the Board in December and it's a great    we look at The PGA of America and every company needs a five- to 10-year plan.  During my tenure, as we have seen the Booz Allen report in the late 80s, we came in to do the Strategic Vision for 2011, and we are at a time where we need to take a lot at what is the Association's direction going to be over the next five to 10 years.

We had talked and thought about maybe doing it internally but we are going to have an outside company take a really good look at what we need to do to try to get player development and see how we can better serve the members of our association.  They are doing a really good fact finding mission with our headquarters staff and executive directors and members of the association and officers and so many people and we are trying to find those triggers.

Something I said at the Annual Meeting, is that I'm looking at the power of 10 and many of you have seen the movie "Pay It Forward" and you saw the power of three; and if one person does a good deed for three people and those people are each inspired to do a good deed for three people, it just grows out so exponentially.

Again, I got a little aggressive.  I talked about the power of 10.  And I would love all of our 27,000 professionals in the PGA to really work hard over the next year to bring in 10 people.  And 10 people that would inspire other 10 people, because a lot of times, we have seen that in growing the game, it's getting one person inspired, and they have a friend or a family member that wants to play.

So if we can start this 10, goes to 10 more by each of those 10, we might even get near that 30 million over the next two years.  So that's going to be the emphasis with player development.  One of the areas, and it's really great over the four years I've served as an officer and getting to know so many of you and most of you in here know that I've been passionate about junior development and about kids.  There is no doubt in my tenure at Hillendale, I have raised juniors who have gone on to be my board members.  They have been --  gone on to be my members and my customers and they have gone to other facilities around the country.  They have gone on to be influential members of the community.  They are now bringing me their children who I am teaching and working with, and it's pretty neat to have that history with those families.  When I get to the grandchildren I know it will be time for me to retire.

I have also been able to chair the Junior Championship for the past four years and chair the Junior Golf Committee for the past two.  What we have worked at very, very hard, two different things.  One is The Ryder Cup Academy, Ryder Cup Junior Academy.  And it came from the captains of The Ryder Cup when we had discussions with them and some of the players playing in it about developing children's skills.  And a lot of this will be not only with a certain skill set, but a certain financial need that we will be able to help those out.  We will have two different sessions.

The first one will start this summer.  There will be 86 people involved.  You'll have one boy and one girl from each of our 41 sections that will be representative and there will be at large people, and they will get a lot of experience through the top teachers and coaches about how to better play the game and how to develop their skills as players and get some of the history and traditions of The Ryder Cup.

It was really rewarding during our PGA Championship, the Junior Championships, to see some of the future elite players of the world coming along when you have Jordan Speith and Justin Thomas and Denny McCarthys and Casey Isigawas and Alexis Thompson, it's fun to see them develop and where they will go, and they will have a lot of touch to The PGA of America as we go down the road.

So that's exciting.  As exciting as the development of the PGA Sports Academy, a lot of you know that we used to have the Medalist Program and we used to have the First Swing Program.  Again we looked at updating them and we really it took a look through the junior golf committee and instruction committee of the association to put together an all inclusive program; what can we put out that if a facility had a great program, maybe they could use components of; if you don't have a program at all it would be a program in a box where you could just open it up and an assistant professional, head professional, anyone there on the PGA professional staff could put this into place.

A lot of things are involved that we haven't done before where you saw nutrition and fitness components added to it.  There are skills assessments portion to it.  There is a playing portion.  There is a rules and etiquette portion to it and there's an online portion to it because as we know, the social media and the online is so attractive to the juniors of today. 

So the PGA Sports Academy will be rolled out this week, and I am extremely excited to have that in place and work on the juniors.  And now once again I look at personal experiences, and a lot of my members at Hillendale have blamed me for getting the kids so active because it forced them to either join the club or upgrade their memberships from social to golf.

As I said before I have not seen many 7-year-old kids who are allowed to drive to the golf course yet, so if I can hook a kid I have a good chance of getting some parents or grandparents involved as well.  We will have a lot of emphasis there.

With the Annual Meeting, as well, we had Jim Carol (ph) of Futures come in, and he did a great job of talking about our theme for that event was Your Future, Your PGA.   He explained a lot to us about how people in this day and age have really gotten constrained with time, the amount of time that they have to spend at their jobs, different family venues and the increased amount of sports that their kids are playing with 65 game little league seasons and all, and it was a real challenge to find out how to get out there, and how to touch those people; how to get ahold of them in daily life.

As I saw one article the other day that said, websites are dead, which is great news for my facility because we had just spent a lot of money creating a really upgraded website and now the idea was, forget those, we are going to go to the Facebook and Twitters and that would be more important and a great way to communicate with people and what our kids are looking for.

So he was instrumental on showing us that.  I shared with my fellow officers and Joe something that I had found called socialnomics, talking about Facebook and the social media now being the third largest country in the world and how important it is.

I do Facebook.  I have an account there and if anybody friends me, I promise I won't ignore you, I will confirm that you're a friend and accept you.  I'm on Twitter.  I haven't figured the Twitter thing out.  I'm not sure that me brushing my teeth is that important.  I will probably try to do that at the Championships and I did some Twittering this morning with our USA hotline.  We will try to stay connected in the social media world so if you want to track me down, I can guarantee you the Facebook I'll be on.

The trade show is some really outstanding, exciting news and the whole week has been -- it's not a show anymore.  It's just a meeting place and an event for so many different venues.  We started out Sunday night with merchandise of the year conference that PGA Magazine put on, just a Pro Bowl cast of merchandisers trying to find best practices, how do we better serve our customers and how do we better provide product and what are they thinking about.

We went into our Teaching/Coaching Summit.  This is the first time that the PGA Teaching/Coaching Summit has been added (to the PGA Merchandise Show).  There was some concern at the beginning whether it was a positive or not and what impact it would have.  I am pleased to report to you that we had the 500 people that we had allotted for sold out, and there was a waiting list of over 50 people.

So it was exciting and we had some tremendous guest speakers there and I heard one of them was Lou Holtz and he just did an outstanding job.

We also introduced and awarded the nine new inductees for Golf Magazine’s top 100 teachers of the year so that was outstanding.

Then we went over --  yesterday we went over to the range at Orange County National for our demo day and I can't say enough about what Reed and the PGA of America staff did with the storms of the night before, created challenges and we were afraid many of the banners and tents might wind up here at the convention center because it was blowing about 70 miles an hour.  So we delayed the opening for a bit of time to make sure they could finish up that morning and sure enough, at the ten o'clock start they were in full fashion and good to go.

We had a few commitments yesterday morning and we got over at 11 o'clock and as we turned the corner it was amazing to see how far the cars were parked out this year.  We were not sure if there was a car auction or what was going on.  As we drove up, all of a sudden we looked at the driving range and it was amazing.  I have been coming to shows over 20 years, and I have never seen anything even close to that, and we found out last night from Ed Several that the attendance at the demo day was up 14 percent.

So give and take, we are thinking there was about 14,000 people there.  It was not only good to see the number of people there, but it was fun watching golf balls going every which way.  There is so much more product out this year, and different looks, different cosmetics, and it's pretty interesting when you see the industry's best.

I'm used to a 5-year-old kid on the range that gets the ball airborne for the first time squealing but I'm hearing PGA Professionals go, wow, look at this.  So there was quite a buzz out there and I managed to see at the show what the hot items are.  I know what some of them are.  But the demo day went extremely well and that was very, very pleasing.

We did the opening kickoff this morning with Matt Kuchar which was a lot of fun.  I was surprised of the duck hook he hit.  He never hit one of those in The Ryder Cup.  But it was really rewarding to stand on the top and look down over the Show floor, and when you saw the crowds this year going all the way back out to the door, that was pretty a amazing.  We know the attendance is up, and we are looking at the PGA professional attendance being up about four percent and the overall attendance being up two percent.

There are over a thousand equipment manufacturers and product brands being represented here.  We added over 200 new companies this year.

So as we look at the game of golf and as we go forward, it seems to have a really good, positive feel.  I'm very pleased to see the media start making some good reports.  And when you see USA Today saying, the economy is rebounding faster than we thought and the GNP has actually gone a lot higher than we anticipated, I think that helps the average person sitting at home feel a lot more positive and a lot more confident and ready to come out and play golf and use their facilities.

This week, as well, we added the PGA USA Today hotline.  Derek and I were in there this morning doing some Twitters and Facebooks and a couple phone calls and the lines are going off the charts.  GOLF CHANNEL's Michael Breed is in there answering some questions and calls.  And they have got an All Star lineup of people doing it, and the phones are going off the hook.  That's been a lot of fun.  We'll have over a hundred PGA professionals today that will be answering calls and questions from 8:00 till 6:00.

We are really excited, too, that we'll have a launch this week from the head golf company.  We are doing PGA Authentic, so you will see the PGA brand and tagged on different products that they have to offer and it will be a great way to tell the story of The PGA of America, PGA professional that people will be able to use there, as well.

We will also this week have our Play Golf America Top 100 performers recognized at the conference.  Tonight we will do our special awards and our Ernie Sabayrac Award.  Attendance there will be excellent.  We have just an outstanding recipient, Jim Mrva, will receive the highest honor as the Golf Professional of the Year.

Coming into this week, we were at Chicago, and one of my first official duties was to announce the new Ryder Cup Captain, and I can't tell you what a treat and honor and privilege that was.  And I kept pinching myself, and thank goodness I was awake; to be able to announce Davis Love was just outstanding.  He's a great representative of the game of golf, The PGA of America and the Ryder Cup, with six Ryder Cup appearances and 20 wins and a Major Championship, just an outstanding and incredible individual. 
The City of Chicago could not have been anymore gracious and wonderful.  It is a great American sports town.  The afternoon reception, they had a lot of their Hall of Famers, and when you have Scottie Pippen and Ernie Banks giving Davis Love advice, that was a moment I'll never forget, and each one of them was handing them jerseys and memorabilia from their team.  We definitely think we found the 13th man that will be as strong as Valhalla at Medinah, and the Medinah could not have been anymore gracious and capping off the evening with a Bulls game was a lot of fun.  And watching Davis down there, because Davis is a little taller than I am, and he looked pretty doggone short compared to all of those other people on the court.  That was a lot of fun.

Let me stop for a moment, and before I turn it over to Joe, just let me say that we have got a great relationship.  I have enjoyed all of my time with Joe.  He's our liaison on the business side and with the officers and staff, he was just one of the greatest additions at the time when he took over.  And you think about there's the right people in the right place at the right time; he couldn't be anymore exemplary of that.  He is one of the most outstanding individuals that I've ever met, and he is as passionate and caring about the PGA professional and the game of golf that I've ever met.  And that's why he's an Honorary Member of the PGA, and the CEO of The PGA of America, our friend, Joe Steranka.

JOE STERANKA:  Thank you, Allen.

Allen mentioned our hiring of the Boston Consulting Group, and it is a reflection of the times we are in.  Our sense is that the golf consumer, the households those 16 percent of the American households that have a golfer in them, they have reset how they are going to spend time and money in the aftermath of the recession.  We cannot rely just on delivering the same golf experience we have always delivered; and hired Boston because they have some unique consumer insights.

And while what's not new is that still time, money and the skill required to play our sport, that we have to address to get people to become our most avid customers; the tactics that we will use, and when I say we, I really mean the golf industry, because we positioned this strategic plan as a plan for the golf industry.  So I met with the U.S. golf manufacturer’s council, the sporting goods manufacturers association, so the leading equipment brands that are here at the show.  We met with golf 20/20, our organization made up of all facets of the golf industry.  And then Allen and I will go on the road.  We are presenting it to the executive committees of the United States Golf Association, the club managers association, the club managers association, the owners and then individual golf management companies.

We are all in this together.  We all want to grow both the universe of customers that we have and the frequency with which those golfers visit golf facilities.

The important news for us is that the PGA Professional is universally accorded the respect as the most influential person to grow participation.  And so they are very pleased to see The PGA of America commit time and money to do this.  So you'll see us aligning our fiscal year, we are on a June 30th fiscal year, our fiscal year plans and budgets for the next several years against this goal of growing participation.

The 30 million golfer number will be in there but equally important will be the revenue that people spend at the nation's golf facilities and so we are excited about the early support we have gotten and some of the findings that we think will help us crack the code and get people playing more golf.

Now, let's not discount the fact that golf has been incredibly resilient in the recession; for retail businesses to have the numbers that we have posted for the last three years, I can tell you is very good, and there are other trade shows and industries that don't have anywhere near the modest losses that we have encountered the last few years.

But we are looking forward; we are about growth.  We do think golf is uniquely positioned as a sport for a lifetime, and you know, you hear PGA officials using that word sport these days to bring in the health benefits of playing golf.  Today's time with you is really designed to just reinforce that; that we have our eye on that ball, and we'll be sharing with you updates as we go.

There are a few great pieces of news.  We continue to have good news that we're able to announce about the golf industry.  Last year it was the first bank in the post TARP era doing a sponsorship of any type, and we announced RBC as the new Patron of The PGA of America.  This year, whether it's the global front, the lifestyle front, the economic development front, and certainly in media and marketing, we have great news.

I'll start, I just came from the PGA Equipment Forum where I was joined by members of the PGA World Alliance.  This is at lines of club professional organizations that the PGA of America leads that were there.  We are working with Reed Elsevier to do the first PGA Merchandise Shows in China.  So there will be a PGA Merchandise Show China in Beijing in March and a PGA Merchandise Show in Asia in Guangzhou in October.

And we know that the brick countries are developing economies, developing markets, and that we have a great opportunity to leverage Y.E. Yang's success in the PGA Championship, Liang Wen Chong's course record at Whistling Straits last August; and the fact that the IOC gave golf the nod for the Olympics; to use that momentum to help the game grow globally.  And have is that important?

Well, our game is a global game, whether it's the brands of equipment that are sold, the sponsorship that drives so many parts of our business.  So we see The PGA of America being able to play a leadership role to help that growth.

On the lifestyle side, Deb O'Connor, Deb has the title of being the senior manager of the brand experience for KitchenAid, and just the word experience kind of shows you at lines that exists culturally between KitchenAid and The PGA of America.

Golf is a lifestyle.  It's an experience.  It's not just a round of golf, and KitchenAid makes some of the greatest products that help us enjoy our lifestyles.  They are a great partner, now the presenting sponsor of the Senior PGA Championship, and equally important, a promotional partner to help us remind people, and maybe introduce some new people about the golf lifestyle.

So with that, I know you have some exciting news, and we have some news on our Senior PGA Championship.

DEB O'CONNOR:  Yes, yes, so I think you're going to show that logo at some point here.

JOE STERANKA:  We'll unveil it now.  This will be the logo for our 2012 Senior PGA Championship, presented by KitchenAid at Valhalla Golf club.

DEB O'CONNOR:  So we are pretty excited about that and we just feel like both -- it represents KitchenAid and the PGA of America very well.  I have to tell that you we really don't mind having that time honored trophy right next to our name.  We really like the logo.

Thanks for having us here at the PGA Merchandise Show.  We are so excited to be part of this sponsorship with The PGA of America and the Senior PGA Championship.  We feel like our brands are very well aligned.  They are about quality and excellence, and we both spend time trying to help people in common shared experiences.

So whether you're with your friends and family on the golf course enjoying a round of golf or you invite people over to cook a meal together in the kitchen, it's really about family and friends, and I would like to think that both of our organizations help people make memories, really.

Also we are a major consumer brand.  We talk a lot about cooking, of course.  And most of those cooks are women.  So we are hoping that maybe we'll be able to introduce a few more women to golf and at the same time we'll get access to quite a few guys who we might be able to talk to about cooking.  So I think it's a great partnership.

So I do want to talk a little about how we are going to activate the championship at Valhalla.  We have got lots of stuff going, so I'll just talk about a few things.  In a couple of weeks, we are going to introduce a sweepstakes, and the grand prize is a KitchenAid kitchen, of course.  And we have fabulous first prizes, five first prizes, and it's dinner for two and the dinner is no ordinary dinner.  We will give away five of them.  It's going to be at Valhalla on the golf course after the Saturday round, and it's going to be by a celebrity chef, and right before I walked in here, I'm told I'm allowed to tell you now that it's celebrity chef Michael Simon, who if you don't know, he's an Iron Chef.  We are getting the best involved.  Not only will he cook dinner for those folks but he will give them a personal cooking demonstration.  So great prizes in the sweepstakes.

So the week we are at Valhalla, you'll see quite a bit of KitchenAid product on the course, and right around the 13, 14th hole, we will also have an engagement center, a KitchenAid consumer engagement center, and people will be able to come in and they will have a demonstration kitchen, so there will be celebrity chefs throughout the week.

We will have also some small appliance interactive demonstration, so you will actually get to come in and make some pasta in between watching golf.  And then, also, you'll have a chance to look and touch and feel some of our larger products, too; ask some questions.  We'll also have a little bit of golf instruction, too.  We'll have tips from the pro on the cooking side and then tips from the pro on the golf side.  So lots of stuff going on.

Also, as far as just continuing our cultivation of our trade customers, we'll have an entertainment package for them which includes the Pro Am and hospitality on the 18th green and then of course they will also participate in the consumer engagement center.

So I'd like to take just a second and look ahead to 2012 and 2014, because that is when this tournament will be in our backyard, Benton Harbor, Michigan, the Golf Club At Harbor Shores.  We are very excited to bring people in from around the world to be in our community and to introduce them to our community.  But it's more than that.  It's really an important thing for us because this golf course, which 18 holes opened just this past year.  It's a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course and was highly rated by Golf Digest and golf week.

But the profits for that golf course go back into the community.  The Benton Harbor community has been quite depressed for some time and there are just some amazing people in the community that came up with some harbor shores project.  There is also some real estate there.  So obviously the real estate will help the tax base in Benton Harbor, as well.

It's not just about fun and games, but it's about really helping out the community and we really appreciate that the PGA of America is helping us do that, because, I mean, of course, this is just going to put that course on the map, and it makes a huge difference to the community and the lives of the people in the community.

So I hope that you will all join us on this fun journey that we are going to take and we are really looking forward to it.  So, thanks for having me.

JOE STERANKA:  Thank you, Deb.  You can see she has a lot of passion for golf.  So again, to recap, 2011 Senior PGA will be at Valhalla.  2012 and 2014 at Benton Harbor.

I mentioned business development.  Tourism in the United States is a big part of our multi billion dollar a year golf industry.  There is business travel and personal and recreational travel that golf is a catalyst for.  And we have seen that take place around the PGA Grand Slam of Golf on the Island of Bermuda. 

We have held the Grand Slam and it's been televised by TNT in High Definition for the last four years.  We love the Port Royal Golf Course so much that I'm pleased to announce today that we'll be returning there in 2011 and 2012.  And here to share that news with us is the Minister of Business Development and Tourism for the Government of Bermuda and that's The honorable Patrice Minors .

HONORABLE PATRICE MINORS:  Thank you, Joe, and good morning, everybody.  I'm absolutely thrilled to be here for at announcement that Bermuda has been chosen at the destination for the 2011 and 2012 Grand Slam of Golf.

Several years ago, Bermuda made it one of its top priorities to attract a televised golf event that would bring to Bermuda the top class golfers and just to show all that Bermuda has to offer.  Four years later, this relationship has developed from strength to strength and we are most pleased with it, especially since now this joined up partnership would see us as a destination for 2011 and 2012.

As Joe has indicated, golf driven tourism is very competitive.  It has caused Bermuda to be much more innovative, unique and aggressive in our efforts, and therefore, an opportunity to be televised to millions throughout the world in the display of this significant golf event definitely brings much joy to the hearts and minds of the people of Bermuda.  And therefore, we look forward to the presentation of the pink jacket to the wave of winners that we'll see in the years to come.

Finally, today's announcement truly clarifies and actually signifies that PGA has a great confidence in Bermuda and what it has to offer.  And therefore, it is a ringing endorsement that this little jewel of an island in the Atlantic Ocean, a place that I probably call home, has great sparkle.  We are most supportive that Bermuda has been chosen and that we have so much to offer.

Before closing, I also would like to recognize that I am joined here today with some representatives of Bermuda.  First, the sports coordinator from our actual Bermuda department of tourism, Mr. Jim Hart, and two directors of golf, from the Port Royal Golf Course, and the Fairmont; them being Mr. Andrew Brooks and Anthony Mocklow.  Just wanted to make sure that we recognize and we take this as a significant opportunity and we welcome you to our shores and we look forward to the opportunity.

JOE STERANKA:  Thank you, Minister Minors, and we are very much looking forward to returning to your beautiful island and that special brand of hospitality.

I'll close with our final bit of news, and that's the extension of our broadcast agreement with CBS Sports to televise the PGA Championship.  In 1958, CBS started covering the PGA Championship, its final four holes.  We renewed a relationship after an absence in 1991, and since 1991, CBS Sports has helped us tell such exciting stories, as long John Daly's entry into the golf seen, Tiger Woods and Bob May's great shootout at Valhalla; Davis Love's win under the rainbow; and this past year at Whistling Straits when Martin Kaymer became the first German to win the PGA Championship.

The fact that CBS stayed on the air late Saturday and stayed on the air late on Sunday to cover our playoff and the way they covered what was an interesting ending, conclusion to that championship, showed the professionalism, the versatility and the commitment to golf that makes us comfortable in trusting one of the game's treasures to CBS.

So I began with the support of the officers, sitting down with Sean McManus and Rob Correa this fall, and pleased to announce today an extension through 2019.  So our current agreement finishes up in 2011; so eight more years with CBS Sports.

That agreement contemplates some changes along the way in how sports might be broadcast and the media business.  It ties turning broadcasting and CBS together; so a relationship that Turner and CBS have forged with the NCAAs will now be in place with the PGA of America and the PGA Championship.

We are excited to have that longevity of partnerships, and it speaks to the culture of the PGA.  We look at things for the long term, and maintain our partnerships for a very long time.

With that, I'll wrap up our remarks and open the floor to any questions that you might have.

JULIUS MASON:  Thank you very much, Joe.

Q.  Have any of you seen Barney Adams' letter that was sent out, I want to say within the last two or three weeks, and did    did everyone see that.

JOE STERANKA:
  I'll recap it.

Q.  What do you think about that?

JOE STERANKA:
  Barney and I began talking last summer, early fall, after we informed him that the officers had selected him to be our Ernie Sabayrac Award winner.  And his analysis, for those of who you didn't see it, was if you took a 7,400, 7,500 yard golf course, and the distance difference between amateur's drives and their approach shots, and that amateur golfers should be playing courses around 6,200 yards.  And we are proponents of that.

We think that people play golf for fun, and playing from the right set of tees and having leaders like that do at analysis and then speak passionately about it is important to get that attention and get people to move up to a set of tees that they can make some more pars and birdies.

Q.  Have you given any thought to having PGA of America authorize  

JOE STERANKA:
  Perhaps.  The distance people play from and pace of play are all things we are looking at in terms of the golf experience and strategic plans and Barney's plans very tamely.

ALLEN WRONOWSKI:  We talk about the shorter courses and some of you see the modern day courses are build with modern sets of tees and some of the older courses, mine was built in 1954, when I first came there we had three sets of tees and now we have six sets of tees.  And what we are looking at, especially with the kids when you take little Billy out and put him on a 6,500 yard golf course and makes a 37 on the first hole can dad happy because he did better than the 41 he had last time, he looks like he's been in the ring with Mike Tyson, that doesn't do anything developmentally good; he will just go kick a soccer ball around.  We certainly emphasized it on the website and we'll talk about it more and it's great that it came to light.

Q.  With the Boston Consulting Group, what is the goal there and what are you hoping to walk away from with that relationship and how long do you think that will go out?

JOE STERANKA:
  It's an 11-week process that we are going through, and then we'll take the findings, go through them with our board and our section leaders and the industry.

We'll have specific metrics in terms of the goal for the number of golfers and revenue we want to get to for the golf course side of the industry.  And that timetable, we are setting 2016, our centennial, as kind of one of the early benchmarks or place holders that we'll have to say, okay, by the PGA's 100th anniversary, golf should look like this and I can't tell what you that answer is going to be yet.

Q.  Talking about six sets of tees, it's kind of always been a pet peeve, because I always felt that if you add that many sets of tees, the Amateur recreational golfer was never going to figure out what is the proper set of tees for him.  How do you go about determining and delivering the message, what tees do they need to play?  Because my experience is that ego is always going to prevail, the guy who should be playing at 6,100 or 6,200, if he's paid a hundred dollars he's going to get the full measure of the golf course and goes back to 6,800 and now you have the problems of five hour rounds and other things.  What can you do besides picking up tee markers that shouldn't be there?

ALLEN WRONOWSKI:
  I think you'll see a lot of the general public figure it out.  There was a day and a time at my place we used to create like this extended hole and we called them the King Kong tees and we could not go back far enough and that was with a balata ball and Persimmon club.  And somebody now that is getting to be that Baby Boomer age and two hip replacements, I started saying how far up can we go and let's make this fun.

I think what you're seeing is that there used to be those egos but now you are seeing people saying, hey, I want to go have a good time.  So you'll see people do it to themselves saying, hey, I want to go up here.  You'll also see the facilities do a better job of saying, if your average drive is this length hitter, so, let's go up to this tee.

JOE STERANKA:  We went through an area where the difficulty or sloping of a golf course was a hook to sell memberships and real estate, and golf is an amenity for a lifetime, but it's only an amenity if you're having fun playing the sport.  So I agree with Allen.  That's come back to what's important, and people are building golf courses and programming golf experiences, and that's led by PGA members who are going out and playing with their members from shorter tees.

ALLEN WRONOWSKI:  I got a kick out of something I said at a board meeting once.  You think about what we have done to the game of golf, we have somebody go take a couple lessons and go out to the first tee and the fairways are at least 18 yards wide but the rough is only about eight inches long and the golf course is only 7,800 yards in length; and I've got some land mines and alligator things, but I need to get that slope rating to 240; and you have your two dozen balls you'll need to get to the turn and get some more for the back nine; and you go out and I now have this great ranger riding on my back saying, why is it taking you six hours to get you around, and, hey, why don't you bring your kids next time.  It's like, where do we think the game is going to go.

What you're seeing is the customer saying, I want to have some fun.  And when you think that the buzz word of the last decade was stress, people want to go have fun.  We are in the fun business.  So you see everybody saying, there needs to be the championship venues but it doesn't need to be every venue.  Let's go out and have a good time.

Q.  Could you just prioritize maybe the challenges for the game from your point of view going forward?

JOE STERANKA:
  Time.  People have reset how they spend time.  They have reset it because like PGA members, they are under are more professional pressure to perform.  So that means they are going to look at using their time judiciously to drive their professional performance.

very year that goes by, as us Boomers that now began turning 65 were the general xors are moving into the workplace and a higher percentage of Generation X families have a two income household.  So you have two professional careers to juggle.  The Gen Xers are psychographically much more inclined to invest in their children, which is an opportunity for junior golf and some of the reason we are investing more money in the promotion of junior golf.

But families want to be able to choose when they are going to allot recreational time, and we have not in our industry sold a movie from 2:00 to 4:00 PM.  We have tee times and they might be eight minute, ten minute intervals, but that's how we sell it.  And perhaps we need to look differently at how we are going to address the time question.

Time -- it's not pace of play; it's not the value of the golf experience.  Boston Consulting has already shown us in some of their consumer research that there is a strong attraction people have once they get out and experience golf.  It is that one sport that people can hit like a professional, the very best in the sport that they are a fan of, and that's what keeps them coming back and has been the core of our player development programming based on golf instruction.

Time is probably one, two and three, and when we do surveys, people list things, but it's amazing, of the top six, four of them have to do with time somehow.

Q.  Just curious whether the PGA is working with local and state officials to build and develop the kind of golf courses that the game seems to need, the shorter courses, the 6,000 yard courses, because everybody other sport, in Canada and Florida it's true, basketball, swimming, just about every other sport has these kind of facilities will local governments are involved but in golf, I really have not seen that.  I know it's not true in Canada and I don't think it's true in the U.S. and I'm wondering from there are any initiatives along those lines.

JOE STERANKA:
  No, it's a good point.  Our industry has been very insular or private in our approach to getting public support.  We had a lot of passionate people who played the game that could play it for a lifetime and showed that we could fuel other industries, such as real estate and tourism.

But we found that we were not leveraging all of the impact that golf has in communities in terms of job creation, in terms of providing recreational facilities for healthy activities, certainly the money that's raised on the nation's golf courses for charity, and the fact that it's managed, open green space that sequesters carbon, but our green fields require people to buy admission tickets to use them.  Like parks, they are driving more economic development in terms of jobs and taxes and tourism.

So taking that message to the city councils, county commissions, mayors, governors and our national leaders in Washington, D.C. has been the WE ARE GOLF Initiative that we began last year with the managers, superintendents, owners and other allied associations.

At attachment of golf as a healthy exercise, we were there at the announcement of the Let’s Move Initiative by the First Lady.  We have recently presented a plan for what golf to do to the president's counsel on physical fitness.  We are in discussions with representatives of the White House about how we can do urban golf centers that provide recreational activities and maybe centers for programs such as midnight golf.

Yes, you'll see that, but our feeling is in America, anyway, we have all of the 6,000 yard golf courses that we need.  It's just programming and building them the right way, and that discussion then takes place with golf course architects.  You can ask Tom Fazio about the discussions we have had about re purposing land so that it can be a more enjoyable playing experience, but also be easier and less expensive for the course to operate.

Q.  A question about the Senior PGA presented by KitchenAid at Valhalla.  Will you be at the demo kitchen at the 14th hole, will you wear an apron and what dish do you plan to prepare?

JOE STERANKA:
  Yeah, my specialty is crab cakes.  I'm looking to get some helpful hints from the Iron Chef, Simon.

You know, one of the other aprons that they have is a cook for the Cure, and that's coming up again this year.  It's part of KitchenAid's success as a lifestyle brand, and I think that's how we need to market golf, too, to people is that it is a healthy lifestyle for the whole family.

Is Allen going to still be able, Julius, to cure your slice and get to you hit more solid shots?  We are going to do the traditional things, but also we think we have to look at some untraditional things to grow the participation rate.

Q.  So is that yes or no on using the apron?

JOE STERANKA:
  Yes.  (Smiling).

Q.  I know the PGA is a major supporter and partner of Get Golf Ready Initiative, which is a major player development program underway and when it was launched two years ago, I know the organizers were very successful in certifying a good number of courses to participate in that program.  But I also know, some data that was released this morning that roughly about maybe 1500 facilities that were certified, more than 60 percent of those facilities are not actually engaged in the program and have not been reporting numbers as to the number of golfers that they are creating.  I wanted to get a sense from you, how disappointing is that to you, and what does that say about the industry's true commitment to grow the game at the grass roots level?

JOE STERANKA:
  I'll answer that.  Because Get Golf Ready works.

The best practice for new player development    and our association is built on constantly refining and improving how we do certain things and how PGA professionals conduct and introduce new players is one of them.

Get Golf Ready, the change in that was it took the five lessons, the five skill shots you have to hit on to the golf course, and it has an 85 percent retention rate.  So people who go through Get Golf Ready, 85 percent of them are playing nine rounds and spending about $900 over the first year.  Over a two year period, 75 percent of the people who went through the first year are still playing, two years later and now they have played 24 rounds over two years.

So those types of retention numbers are really good.  Keep in mind, the last few years, we have fewer apprentice professionals, fewer assistant professionals.  Our unemployment numbers have stayed the same, but we don't have as many support staff.  Many times, that's causing people to really focus on their core customer, as opposed to investing in the development of new customers.

That's what this strategic plan is designed to do is while The PGA of America is leading Get Golf Ready, we can't do it alone, and it's proven it works.  We need to get it to greater scale and how we'll do that is to say to the Titleist, TaylorMades, Callaways, PING's, etc., that we have a plan and we are going to commit that 50 to 60 million, we will aim that directly at growing participation and we need your help, as well.  I think that industry support    we are doing some things specifically about targeting eight markets where we have identified latent demand.  We feel that there may be as many people who are interested in playing golf as playing golf today, and they cluster in some certain markets, so we are going to get more tactical with that.

On the training side, we have produced an online training program for the PGA professional to sit down and use distance learning initiative that we have for PGA member education to train their staff and it's kind of a training deck that we'll run through that will get more of the staff at the facility that knows about Get Golf Ready and where it fits in the facility's business plan.

After two years, I'm not disappointed.  You know, we just need greater scale, greater numbers, and our strategic plan has got a rapid pace and a greater sense of urgency.  Not that we think, you know, there's an impending problem for golf, but I think every business now has to act more quickly, and that's why we are focusing our association on that.

Q.  If I can follow up, I definitely believe that's a sense of urgency among the PGA's leadership but I guess I'm trying to get, again, all of the member courses and not even PGA facilities, does at the    in the trenches, do golf courses today truly understand the importance of growing the game, or are you concerned that that message is really not still resonating for all of those golf courses out there?

ALLEN WRONOWSKI:
  Let me take that on behalf of the leadership.  I think the concern is what we have seen in other industries and sport.  You saw what happened to bowling.  You saw what happened to tennis.  We are trying to be proactive and make sure nothing like that happens to golf.

When you think about a sport that can decrease by 50 percent and you saw what happened to tennis, we want to make sure that that doesn't happen.  We want to make sure, over the last ten years, you have only seen a six percent decline in golf and that's pretty strong when you think about all of the different challenges of the family impact of 2001, you think about the economic tsunami and you think about what has changed with pharmaceutical companies not being allowed to entertain and the change in what you're allowed to expense and write off in facilities and entertain at the golf course; we think we have done well and we want to make sure we maintain/stable, which is good, or increase slightly.

What we are also looking at is we have never done a good job, and it started with WE ARE GOLF is we have never done a good job of promoting and telling how good the game of golf is.  There's too many factors.  You go back to the junior development and what the game can do for a child and the first tee does such a great job of the nine core values of society and how it works in golf.  We think about golf and it teaches integrity, honesty, sportsmanship, so many great values and it's important to kids to have that exposure.

You think about, especially can KitchenAid being here and the discussion of family.  Golf is so important to a family unit.  It is fabulous and not to take anything away from junior sport, but you're a spectator, and it used to be cool for one parent to go and take eight kids in a station wagon and now you have two parents and a child that go, watch, put you on the sideline.   There's not that quality time that, one on one time.  They go home and somebody is at the computer or watching their HDTV and there's not that one on one and I can't think of any greater experience for a family than when you see a father, daughter, mom or son or all of them go off the first tee together and have that quality experience as they go out.

You think about golf in this country, and activity, and we get concerned about the cost, but when 70 percent of the golf in this country is played with 28 dollar green fees or less for 18 holes, that's great, reasonable entertainment value.  That's a great day for people to go out and use their leisure time and have a fun experience.  So I think all of us have seen that, one, we want to make sure that the game stays steady and that we don't see any kind of a major decrease, and two, we want to tell the world how valuable the game of golf is in people's lives.

JOE STERANKA:  We are talking to employers.  We are talking to the golf manufacturers, and we are going to hit the road and tell our members about this and explain to them that it's in their professional interests, their economic self interest to take advantage of these best practices and grow their business.

And we know we'll have a great group of leaders at the local level that will take this up.  And it's a competitive business now.  And we think that local competition will spur others who, you know, may come to it later, but they will eventually come to take advantage of those programs that the entire industry is telling them about, whether it's their owner, whether it's their association or whether it's their Callaway rep.

JULIUS MASON:  Joe and Allen, thank you very much.

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