Paul Levy ‘prepared’ for new role as PGA of America President
NEW YORK -- Twenty-five years after attending his first PGA Annual Meeting, Paul Levy will leave this week’s 100th gathering in Midtown New York as the incoming PGA of America President.
“I was thinking today that I’ve been going to the Annual Meeting now for 25 years,” said Levy, current PGA Vice President and the President of Club Operations and Development for Sunrise Company, and also the CEO and General Manager at Toscana Country Club in Indian Wells, California. “This will be my 25th year. I was thinking back and remembering my first Meeting how charged I was just from the videos. You almost leave with goose bumps after watching those… In 1992, I left here inspired to be involved in an association that operated at this level and I remember the passion everyone had.”
Levy called the opportunity to serve the 28,000+ men and women PGA professionals across the country a “great honor and a great privilege.” He said this is upcoming two-year stint as PGA President is the top honor of his PGA governance life.
The path to becoming PGA President started four years ago for Levy when he was elected to the position of PGA Secretary. PGA officers start off with an election to PGA Secretary, serving two years in that role, followed by two years as PGA Vice President before ascending to the association’s top position.
Levy said the last four years have been a great way to prepare for his soon-to-be new role, because he’s had the opportunity to see everything that happens behind the scenes.
He compared it to one of his first job’s as an assistant pro when he remembered something the head professional told him: “Son, here’s the deal. You’re no good to me until about the third year as an assistant pro.”
Levy wondered why that was.
The pro told him, “Well, the first year you’ve got to go through the member-guest, the member-member, understand how we do the buying in the spring and the fall, and I’m having to teach you everything. The second year, you’re kind of learning everything. By the third year, you’re returning on the investment, so to speak. You’re starting to get it down.”
After the four-year build up to becoming PGA President, Levy said he feels well prepared for what lies ahead.
“At that point, you’ve had many years working with the PGA staff,” he said. “When you get to this point, it’s not that you’re going to be ready for everything, but you’re in a pretty seasoned position to understand what your duties are and what your role is and some of the things you’re going to be dealing with.”
Among the highlights for Levy as a PGA Officer, has been the behind-the-scenes involvement in the Ryder Cup.
“It’s kind of like an in your body and an out of your body experience,” he said. “The part where you’re in your body, you’re realizing that you get to do something like this. I have a brother who passed away in 2010 who loved the game of golf. My God. If he knew the things I’ve gotten to do the last few years he would have done anything to do that. He was the consummate sports fan. As an executive of the PGA, as an Officer, you play a role. I got to be on the task force for the Ryder Cup, which was a great experience. Now we’ll be getting the Ryder Cup Committee together to determine the next captain and what changes and things we’ll solidify in the Ryder Cup going forward.
“If you had told me 20 years ago I was going to get to play that role? I would have said, ‘You’re kidding me. I’m really going to get to do that?’ But when you’re in that role, you’re in that role. You’ve prepared. The PGA has given you the tools and support. We have a great senior staff. Pete Bevacqua, our CEO. We strategize, we brainstorm. You play that role of what you do,” Levy added. “But at the same time, you have this out of body experience. I’m 56 years old, but I’m still just a kid. A kid who loves the game of golf, who has spent his whole life since I was 12 years old I’ll I’ve done is golf. The day I started playing golf, I pretty much quit every other sport except basketball. You’re at the Ryder Cup. You’re watching the greatest golfers in the world compete at the highest stage in the world in maybe the most remarkable, unique sporting event that exists in any sport. There’s still that fan in you. It’s like you’re having two experiences at once. When we won… forget about Ryder Cup Committees and task forces and the PGA, it was about one thing: Seeing that putt go in the hole, we win the Ryder Cup and the pure emotion of the fans, of us and the players – that’s priceless. And getting to be a part of that, very cool.”
For Levy, there will many more unique experiences to come over the next two years