Play Golf America's youth clinics draw consistently large crowds. (Photo: The PGA of America)
Staging majors just one of PGA's many roles
Since its founding in 1916, The PGA of America has established new standards of excellence by expanding educational opportunities, programs and services for its members.
Recognized as the experts in the game and business of golf, The PGA of America and its 28,000 men and women Professionals are committed to developing programs that both introduce and further advance interest in the game for the 27 million golfers in the United States. Since 1916, when it was founded in New York City, The PGA's mission has been twofold: to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf.
By establishing and elevating the standards of the golf profession through world-class education, career services, marketing and research programs, The PGA enables its Professionals to maximize
their performance in their respective career paths and showcases them in the multibillion dollar golf industry.
Furthermore, by creating and delivering dramatic world-class championships and exciting and enjoyable golf promotions that are viewed as the best of their class in the golf industry, The PGA of America elevates the public's interest in and passion for the game, the desire to play more golf, and ensures accessibility to the game for everyone, everywhere.
Simply put, The PGA of America brand represents the very best in the great sport of golf. A leader of today's golf industry, The PGA's origin can be traced to Jan. 17, 1916, when a group of New York-area golf professionals, accompanied by several prominent amateur golfers, attended a luncheon at the Taplow Club in New York City, hosted by department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker.
Among those in attendance were 1913 U.S. Open Champion Francis Ouimet, 1914 U.S. Open Champion Walter Hagen and famed golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast.
The purpose of the gathering was to discuss forming a national organization that would promote interest in the game of golf and help elevate the vocation of golf professionals.
Wanamaker, who viewed the public's growing enthusiasm for golf as the beginning of a national trend, promoted the idea of an association to help accelerate the growth of the game. Little did Wanamaker or his guests realize that they were laying the groundwork for what would become the world's largest working sports organization.
Meetings were held over the next two months, and on April 10, 1916, with a Constitution and by-laws in hand, 82 founding members, including 35 charter members who attended the first meeting at the Taplow Club, created The Professional Golfers' Association of America in New York City.
The first PGA Championship was held Oct. 9–14, 1916, at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, N.Y. Jim Barnes defeated Jock Hutchison, 1-up, in the match-play final. Wanamaker donated a purse of $2,500 and the trophy that still bears his name today. The PGA Championship is celebrating its 91st edition this week.
Some 21 years following the inaugural PGA Championship, another major championship was launched on the grounds of one of golf's original majors at the invitation of one of golf's greatest
players — Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club and Bobby Jones.
In 1937, Jones and fellow Augusta National members, who three years earlier had hosted the first Masters, thought it right that PGA members 50 and over should have a continued opportunity to
compete with their peers. Alfred S. Bourne, an original Augusta National member and a longtime friend of PGA Professionals, donated a check for $1,500 for the creation of a trophy, and the same Jock Hutchison who was runner-up in the inaugural PGA Championship claimed the Bourne Trophy and the winner's share of the $2,000 purse as the inaugural Senior PGA Champion.
Michael Allen captured the 70th Senior PGA Championship earlier this year at Canterbury Golf Club in Beachwood, Ohio. The 2009 PGA Grand Slam of Golf, which brings together four major champions each year, will be contested Oct. 20–21 at Port Royal Golf Club in Bermuda.
The PGA of America also conducts the biennial Ryder Cup when it occurs on U.S. soil, which produces golf’s greatest drama. Last September, at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., the 12-man United States Team reclaimed the Ryder Cup in pulsating fashion, topping their counterparts from Europe.
In September 2010, the Ryder Cup will be played for the first time in the country of Wales, at The Celtic Manor Resort. Corey Pavin (U.S.) and Colin Montgomerie (Europe) have been selected as Captains. The PGA of America and the PGA Tour When The PGA of America was formed, there was no distinction between club and touring professionals. As The PGA began to develop and promote tournaments, it became easier for the touring professionals to devote their efforts to playing tournaments and exhibitions. In 1968, PGA tournament players, who comprised a small percentage of the membership, broke away from the Association to form a Tournament Players Division and acquire more control of the tournament schedule.
In 1975, the Tournament Players Division was renamed the PGA Tour. Today, the PGA Tour is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and maintains a close working relationship with The PGA of America, as most PGA Tour professionals maintain dual membership in the organizations.
While the Tour professionals may have has played over its 93-year history created a league of their own, the PGA Professional ranks continue to include many excellent players, and The PGA of America conducts more than 30 tournaments for its members and apprentices, including the PGA Professional National Championship and the Senior PGA Professional National Championship. It is through performances in these Championships that PGA members can earn berths to play against the best in the world each year in the PGA Championship and Senior PGA Championship, respectively.
In addition, PGA Sections, which represent 41 geographic regions across the country, provide dozens of additional playing opportunities for PGA Professionals each year. It is through this network of Section offices that the Association maintains a commitment to PGA Professionals, helping the membership meet the demands of today's marketplace.
Preserving the Future of the Game PGA Professionals have taken the lead in the industry-wide growth of the game initiative known as "Play Golf America," which debuted in 2004. Each year, Play Golf America programs, which are aimed at attracting both new and returning golfers to the game, continues to set participation records for both consumers and PGA Professionals.
Details on Play Golf America's national promotions, as well as additional useful information for those who want to get more golf into their lives, can be found at PlayGolfAmerica.com.
Since those gatherings in New York City in 1916, The PGA of America has established new standards of excellence by expanding educational opportunities, programs and services for its members. Now in its 93rd year, The PGA continues to flourish on the principles that were established by its founders, and at the same time forging ahead as the leader in golf in the 21st century.
Editor's Note: This story appears courtesy of The 91st PGA Championship Journal.