PGA of America President Jim Remy spoke at length about the new global PGA alliance, among other topics. (Photo: The PGA of America)
PGA of America 'State of the Association' news conference
In their annual State of the Association news conference, held Wednesday at Hazeltine, PGA of America officials discussed topics ranging from Patriot Golf Day to PGA charity initiatives to an exciting new global initiative to grow the game.
Wednesday, Aug. 12
JULIUS MASON: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, I'm Julius Mason, Director of Communications and Media Relations for the PGA of America. I would like that thank you for joining you go today for our annual PGA of America State of the Association news conference.
Before we get to the head table, there are some people I would like to recognize, first beginning with the PGA Vice President, Allen Wronowski; PGA Secretary, Ted Bishop; and PGA Honorary President, Brian Whitcomb.
We are also joined by several PGA of America board of directors and PGA of America past presidents in the audience, as well as Minnesota PGA Section President Jim Drimel and Executive Director Jon Tollette. Hazeltine National Golf Club President, Tim Rainey. The General Chairman of the 91st PGA Championship, Jim Dauwalter. PGA Head Professional, Mike Schultz. And Superintendent Jim Nicol.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, your attention at the head table, the 36th president of the PGA of America, Mr. Jim Remy.
JIM REMY: Good morning, everyone, and thank you for being here. I know that there is a lot of excitement going on outside, and I appreciate you taking the time out to be here for this State of the Association press conference.
First of all, thank you, Julius, and welcome to the 91st PGA Championship. It should be a fantastic week. Anytime there is a major championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club, it always proves to be a very special week, and we certainly anticipate that this championship will certainly maintain that tradition.
I'm sure that by Sunday, we will look back on what will be a truly exciting week as we compete here in the 91st PGA Championship. This will mark the fifth PGA Championship in Minnesota. And how can we forget in 2002 when Rich Beem held off a charge by Tiger Woods to become the fourth son of a PGA professional to capture the Wanamaker Trophy.
For the past 15 years, the PGA Championship has featured the deepest roster of world ranked players of any major. This year is no exception.
With 98 of the Top 100 players in the world in the field this week, it proves to be the strongest field in golf. And I may add that not only is it 98 of the Top 100, but based on two injuries, it is 100% of the available players in the Top 100 that are playing. Not one player has chosen not to play that is not injured. So we are very proud of that and we are very excited about it and it should be a great week.
This week's field which surpassed that mark, and it is just incredible that we can continue to have this strong of a field.
At this year's PGA Championship, there are a record 71 international players representing 21 different countries, the most in any U.S. major. The PGA Championship is the only with an all professional field that will include 20 PGA club professionals who earned a berth last month at Twin Warriors Golf Club in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico. They will be led by two time professional national champion, Mike Small, from Champaign, Illinois, who also was this season's Big Ten Conference coach of the year.
Hazeltine National Golf Club, again, will be a great challenge. Playing at 7,674 yards, making it the longest course in majors history.
I know a lot of players have commented earlier in the week about the outstanding condition of the golf course. It is truly spectacular, with the weather that has taken place in the last few weeks. The team here at Hazeltine has done a remarkable job to prepare this golf course.
This course will play 300 yards longer than the 2002 PGA Championship. And Hazeltine National now has three holes that are longer than 600 yards, including No. 3 at 633 yards, No. 11 at 606 yards, and No. 17 at 642 yards.
Enhancements over the last years led by Rees Jones have not only maintained the integrity of the original design, but made Hazeltine National a tremendous test of golf for, truly, the greatest golfers in the world.
So we are really happy to be here and happy to celebrate this championship venue this week, and Kerry Haigh and the tournament staff of the PGA of America will be prepared to provide a challenge to the greatest players in the world while presenting a fair and great golf course for this championship.
Two years ago, we announced the debut of Patriot Golf Day. We are happy to report that more than $3.1 million has been raised for scholarships to the families of those men and women who perished or were wounded in the line of duty.
The Third Annual Patriot Golf Day will be conducted over Labor Day weekend, September 4th through the 7th, and we have some very special guests with us today.
Leading this charge is Retired Major Ed Pulido, Senior Vice President of Development for the Folds of Honor Foundation. (Applause)
Also joining us is Natasha Mounsey from Idaho, the daughter of a Black Hawk pilot and warrant officer, Erik Mounsey, who perished during a humanitarian relief mission in 1994 in northern Iraq.
She is joined today by her mother, Kaye. We are also pleased to welcome Staff Sergeant Ramon Padilla of Maryland, another of our nation's heros who was seriously injured in 2007 in Afghanistan, and whose four children are recipients of Folds of Honor scholarships.
Certainly we would ask you all to support Patriot Golf Day and the wonderful work that the Folds of Honor Foundation is doing on behalf of our veterans. There can be no better cause, and we would appreciate everything that you all can do to help support Patriot Golf Day September 4th through 7th.
The Community Relations Program provided an estimated half million dollars in value. Featuring funds raised through auctions, tickets and hospitality to benefit 123 Minneapolis St. Paul and Chaska charities.
84 charities participated in the Tickets for Charities auction program and 26 charities received over 3,500 tickets to attend the PGA Championship.
Over 250 children took part in the Championship Youth Clinic on Monday at the Chaska Par 30 course right down the road, and they were taught by 30 PGA Minnesota Section Professionals who are helping to inspire these young people to have fun with the game.
We also had a Play Golf America Day on Monday at the Chaska town course, which had crowds in excess of 500 people and Minnesota PGA Section professionals were on hand to give free lessons and clinics.
This year, we are proud to say that we included a food drive at the Play Golf America day that will benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of Minnesota through the United We Serve program. These are all perfect examples of how the game of golf reaches out and touches the lives of many deserving people.
Having fun with this game, being outdoors, spending time with your family and friends, and, yes, getting exercise, is why we are so enthusiastic about this great game and sport. It has so much to offer. And we encourage everyone to make sure you take the time out to play golf, visit PlayGolfAmerica.com and to make the most of this game as part of your life.
One of the ways the fans this week can experience this is through the American Express PGA Learning Center where 34 Minnesota PGA section professionals are offering three 10-minute lessons in the American Express Learning Center Pavilion. So in closing, I hope everyone enjoys a great week here at Hazeltine National Golf Club, and we all look forward to you to continuing to play, promote and be part of this great sport.
JULIUS MASON: Jim, thank you very much. And now, ladies and gentlemen, all the way from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, the CEO of the PGA of America, Mr. Joe Steranka.
JOE STERANKA: Thank you, Julius. As Jim talked about the international focus that comes on a major golf championship, I'm kind of reminded about many other things of a global nature, and we have a big announcement at the conclusion of our remarks here representing just the PGA of America.
But the economic impact of golf is worldwide, and we use the PGA Championship as really a focal point for explaining to people that as great as these events are from an historical nature in sport, they are also dramatic builders of the local economy, the state economy and the national economy.
Part of what we are doing now at the PGA of America, when we talk about 28,000 men and women, you know, making the game fun, as Jim said, and promoting a healthy sport, we also it also means we have PGA professionals in 41 sections or all 50 states who are real drivers of the business of golf at the local level. And it's that business of golf that is very important in today's economy. You know, we are all focused on employment and jobs and economic opportunity, and we are proud of the stability and the resilience of the golf industry in these times.
Certainly looking out at the attendance just these first three days, you would not know that there is any economic downturn here in the Twin Cities, and it speaks to the fact that Minnesota has one of the highest per capita, if not the highest per capita, golf participation rates in the entire nation.
On Tuesday we hosted a government relations breakfast, and Jim and I sat with Governor Tim Pawlenty from Minnesota who gets it; you know, your governor, for those Minnesotans here in the audience, understands that golf is not just a great, healthy activity for the state's residents to participate in, really from age 8 to 80 you can play the game of golf, but it provides 35,000 jobs in the state with three quarters of a billion dollars in wages.
And with the stability of golf courses ... and I'm not saying that golf is immune from what's going on in the general economy, but with the stability of the golf industry, that means more people are employed.
More people are able to bring home the wages that come from the daily operations of golf courses. So with 8 million rounds at just under 500 courses here in Minnesota alone, it's a big part of tourism. It's a big part of jobs and it's a big part of tax generation here for the state.
And the PGA Championship is one of the ways we highlight that. It alone is reported to have an economic impact in excess of $50 million. We have a thousand local people that we've hired for the championship itself, 3,600 room nights, television coverage that goes to 200 territories worldwide and over 550 million households. So that has great benefit for the state, great benefit for the industry.
And if I could mention the international reach, but domestically, we are in our 19th consecutive year with TNT and CBS in broadcasting the PGA Championship.
Since 2004, it's been in high definition. So this is the first time we are able to showcase the natural beauty of Hazeltine and Minnesota in high definition.
What you're also seeing, though -- you may have read about it -- is we are keeping in step with modern distribution of content, and so you're seeing the PGA Championship on Twitter.
We have a half a dozen PGA professionals from the Minnesota section who are out on the course Twittering their comments about what's going on.
We have a great Facebook page which connects the next generation of golfers and golf fans to one of the game's great historic events. It's the reason we are excited about the new Cartoon Network relationship that was part of our TNT extension, because we are partnering with the media company that has a proven track record of reaching young people.
So we are not media experts, we are golf experts, and our members are golf experts, but we want to partner with experts that can help us introduce new customers for the game.
I mentioned sponsorship is down somewhat in some of the advanced interviews about 20 or 25 percent this year versus 2002. But in today's world that's relatively stable. We are pleased Jim mentioned the Learning Center by American Express and the Performance Center by Mercedes Benz USA, two patrons of ours that are great benefactors for the game of golf and in the business of golf themselves.
Again, we think that adds to the experience of the fans coming out to the PGA Championship and also helps us run the business of a major championship.
In closing, I'll just again reiterate, Jim mentioned the 71 international players -- which is a record -- of international players who are invited to play in the PGA Championship, the 200 countries that this championship is being telecast to, and we're on the eve of an exciting international announcement tomorrow out of Berlin that we are hopeful that golf will be chosen as one of the two sports put forward by the IOC Executive Committee for a full vote in October later this year.
But we have an exciting announcement of our own today that relates to the globalization of the game and the business of golf. And with that, I'll turn it back to our president, Jim Remy. Jim?
JIM REMY: Thank you very much, Joe. As we all know, the world is becoming a smaller place, with communications and transportation and everything that is available today. The world is becoming a one world, really.
So if I could, at this time, prior to the announcement, I'd like to call to the stage to join us here at the table, the Chairman of the Professional Golfers Association, Mr. Phil Weaver, and the Chairman of the PGA of Australia, Mr. Geoff Scott.
We are very excited to have Geoff and Phil here with us today as together we announce really an alliance which is being formed on a global basis.
You know, PGA professionals worldwide are the experts in the game and in the business of golf. And so today we are happy to announce that a new World PGA Alliance, including organizations representing over 56,000 PGA professionals, and more than 22,000 PGA member golf facilities worldwide.
This alliance is being formed to establish and guide teaching, playing, and educational standards for the golf profession on a worldwide basis, and more importantly, share best practices and player development for adults and youth. It is a significant commitment to growing this great sport on a worldwide basis.
The alliance will be comprised of the PGAs of the United States, Australia, our friends from the north in Canada, Europe, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Sweden, and Great Britain and Ireland.
I'm very excited to announce this alliance. It is a continuation of, really, the cooperation that the PGAs around the world have had for many years, but this truly is a formalization of that alliance with one goal in mind: To continue to grow this sport and to educate and provide the best professionals on a worldwide basis.
So at this point, I would like to ask the Chairman of the Professional Golfers Association, Mr. Phil Weaver, for comments.
JIM WEAVER: Thanks, Jim. If I could for just a moment put an historical flavor to it. I guess when our association was formed in 1901, one of the objectives was at that outset was to grow the game of golf.
And in those 108 years since, many of our professionals from Scotland, Wales, Ireland and England travelled across the world, migrated to other continents and other golfing territories to grow the game and teach the game. And we currently see this as just an evolution or a natural extension to those pioneering professionals that moved abroad and took the game to other territories.
And I guess what has really been the catalyst at the moment has been education. As our educationalists talk to the educationalists from the PGAs of America and the PGAs of Australia, they found this commonality in what we are trying to do, to teach young men and women coming into the profession a basic standard of excellence that they can take out and use as they move into the business of golf.
And I think it's important, and we are really excited of this formation, that, again, we can go and take to other emerging territories, other emerging PGAs that will be formed in various countries and new territories across the world, a basic educational standard that they can use to further their own careers.
We are really excited that from 1901 to where we are today, golf just moves forward, ever. It's really good.
JIM REMY: Thank you, Phil. And now I'd like to have a few comments from Geoff Scott.
GEOFF SCOTT: Thanks, Jim. Good morning. The PGA of America has advocated this alignment for many years and has actually been engaged in this with other associations.
The first World PGA conference in 2004 was the catalyst of the organization's realizing the value of working collectively. And this was realized with the World Conference in Australia in 2008. With shared values and collective standards of excellence, this partnership is a natural extension of over 20 years of what has been informal cooperation.
The alliance aligns nine of the most powerful international golf brands which expands opportunities and further enhances the value of the PGA brand. The value of the alliance will be realized collectively, but we will also directly increase the opportunities for every member of the individual organizations involved.
And the alliance will also help establish a consistent and global message about the numerous roles fulfilled by PGA professionals about instruction and player development and the business of golf and thus will help regulate standards for the golf profession and education and help develop other PGAs internationally.
The PGA of Australia is eager to interact and learn from other PGAs, but also to share our expertise. More specifically, the Australian PGA feels it can make its greatest contribution to the alliance by the scope of our nature of our coaching and education programs that are well respected internationally.
Australia's coaching programs have directly resulted in great success in the elite ranks with Australian coaches consistently producing a high volume of players.
Now the PGA of Australia is a respected brand in the rapidly expanding Pacific Asia region and has taken a leadership role in helping to develop regional projects.
And our Australian members have been a key to the success and growth involved in the Asia Pacific region, specifically in the areas of coaching and facility management.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Australian PGA is excited and proud to be part of the alliance. We have a proud history, having been established in 1911.
And now, in cooperation with our alliance partners, to be able to assist emerging golfing countries and to establish areas, to bring greater understanding of PGA members and the role and to help grow the game is a natural progression of our association. Thank you.
JIM REMY: Thank you very much, Geoff. As the alliance will be administered by the chief executive officers of the organizations, I'm going to ask for a few comments from our CEO, Joe Steranka.
JOE STERANKA: Thank you, Jim. And this is an exciting day for the golf industry. I think it's another example of showing that the game is global and the industry of golf is global, as well.
The world tours have been working together for some time on world championships; similarly, the club professional organizations have been working together for some time. But this formalizes this alliance.
We realize that the most developed PGAs have the most developed education staffs, employment services, marketing programs, research programs. And there is great value of us extending those programs and services to China and the other developing nations in Asia and in South America.
It avoids those developing nations having to spend R&D dollars of their own. So if we can share that across borders, it is going to make the game and the business of golf healthy on a global level.
We can't do it alone. We often times rely on benefactors in our respective regions. One of those is here today. I'd like to thank Jimmy Patiño from Valderrama for joining us. Jimmy, thank you. Mr. Patiño, obviously held a great Ryder Cup; it was a little better for Europe than it was for us Americans, but the venue was spectacular.
And he has a long history of supporting causes for the world of golf. We are proud to have him on the Environmental Institute for Golf board to help guide the plan for sustainability. And we appreciate your counsel for the World PGA Alliance going forward. I expect that we will get other support from other leading benefactors for the game as we go forward in the years ahead. But thank you again, Mr. Patiño. Thank you, Jim.
Q. It seems kind of conspicuously absent from the alliance, are China and India. And a lot of people talk about Brazil, as well, the potential, simply because of population. Why aren't they formally involved, or what are the plans to get those areas of the world, which everybody, let's be honest, is salivating over because of the potential growth there?
JOE STERANKA: Again, this is an alliance of existing PGAs. And the reason that we formalized the alliance is to help the China Golf Association, Mr. Zhang, who we have all worked with, to channel our respective resources, to help China evolve.
India's PGA is in its very early stages. There's a very small group of professionals in Brazil. And so it's the nine most developed PGAs in the world, with Europe assisting a number. There are 37 different PGAs within the PGA of Europe, some with as few as a dozen or some golf professionals.
So you'll see us reach out to those nations, but these nine to start are the ones where the PGA has existed for some time and has a minimum threshold of playing standards, teaching standards, education and work experience standards.
Q. Would you expect this to create a lot of employment opportunities for members who would be interested in venturing overseas?
JIM REMY: Well, I think whether they venture overseas or are created in those emerging markets, I'm sure as we grow the game, it will create more opportunities for PGA Professionals worldwide. And the idea is to make sure that we grow the game and support the game.
PHIL WEAVER: I can add to that. Currently we have members in some 60 countries working across the globe, some in fairly developed PGAs, for instance, Sweden, Holland, Germany.
We went there in the '60s and the '70s and became teaching professionals. They now have formed their own PGAs, their own organizations, but we see new emerging territories in Europe, in Eastern Europe, Latvia, Estonia, Turkey, all emerging areas where golf will be played.
And it's incumbent on us to support and help these groups of professionals to become more formalized to get their own education up and running, and to stabilize themselves. And they will grow into bigger PGAs.
So it's a question of support. It's question of offering support, experience, wherever we can. For them to flower issue and grow and grow their own game and grow the sport in those territories, it will help us all. I can't see a downside to it.
JOE STERANKA: At the start of the 20th century, it was a group of Scottish professionals that helped us get started here. So we almost see this as the start of the 21st century, and the opportunities for golf are global now and it requires a more concerted effort by the developed PGAs to serve that.
And again, if we are fortunate to get a positive nod, at least a first step by the IOC tomorrow, that could be another great step for the globalization of the game.
Q. Although we are not the Egyptian Golf Federation, of course I know them very well and there is a fledgling PGA of Egypt, which is really just being formed now. We have about 15 new golf courses in the last few years and another perhaps 20 that will come online in the next few years. Who should I be talking to, here, who I can bring back some messages to the Egyptian Golf Federation and the people involved in the Egyptian PGA?
JOE STERANKA: We have a fellow specifically, Paul Metzler from the PGA of America who is our global contact, but we can talk after this.
JIM REMY: Well, thank you so much for being here, and before we close, I would like to just make sure that I recognize a gentleman who just entered the room. He's had so many international views today that he's a little late getting here, he's a pretty popular person today.
But it is my distinct privilege to recognize the next recipient of the PGA Distinguished Service Award, and he will be honored this evening in downtown Minneapolis. He certainly has faced a multitude of challenges and adversities and achieved his dream in 1948. He is the first African American to build, own and operate a golf course in this country, which he still oversees today, and is joined on a great family team by his daughter, Renee, a PGA and LPGA professional, and the 2003 First Lady of Golf, and by his son, Larry, a long time member of the Golf Course Superintendents Association.
Ladies and gentlemen, please a round of applause for our Distinguished Service Award winner this year, Dr. William, or as we know him, Bill Powell. (Applause).
So Mr. Powell, we can't thank you enough for all you have done for the game and all you have done for golf in general, and we certainly look forward to a wonderful evening tonight.
Q. Joe, the PGA of America touches golf in so many areas, rounds played and facilities and all of that, to date as you've observed it, where has been the greatest negative impact from a sour economy and what areas have proved to be the most resistant at this point in time?
JOE STERANKA: When you look at discretionary spending and our council for the finances of the PGA really looks at us resetting all of our households, our spending based on household income, not credit card limits or home equity. And so we have got to adjust in the golf industry so that we can continue to deliver a great experience, but with a lower cost center.
You're seeing that on the front line where resorts are the hardest hit in terms of the challenge for keeping rounds played and revenue up.
Conversely, as people trade down and what they spend on anything, whether it's cars or homes or rounds of golf, you're seeing municipal play go up. Minnesota has 400 of the 500 facilities are daily fee facilities, so their rounds played in Minnesota are actually up five percent this year.
So it's been the resort side that has been the most challenged. And if you look at the components of revenue, merchandise revenue, people are playing golf, they are still buying a sandwich and a soda when they go out to play, but you know, they are maybe not buying as many shirts.
JIM REMY: I can just add, as an operator in the northeast what we have definitely seen is that people make last minute decisions more than ever on what they are going to do, and it's very weather related.
And I can tell you that as an operator of two golf courses in the northeast, when the sun shines, they are coming out to play. So I think the most resilient part of the game is the desire and the fun that people have in playing. So they are getting out and playing. They may just wait a little longer to make that decision based on the weather.
JULIUS MASON: Questions? Questions twice? Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for joining us today.
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