A former college coach, general manager, accountant, skilled player, Rules official and tournament director, Jim Awtrey joined The PGA of America Headquarters staff in 1986. Awtrey became the first PGA Professional to be named executive director a year later. In 1993, he was named the first chief executive officer in PGA history. From 1993 through 2005, Awtrey had a part in several momentous events affecting the golf industry.
Born in Oakland, Calif., Awtrey spent his boyhood in Shawnee, Okla., and graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1966. Elected to PGA membership in 1969, Awtrey competed on the PGA Tour from 1970-71, before returning to Oklahoma to begin a club professional career. From 1972 to 1986, he served at four facilities, including a term from 1972-77 as coach of the University of Oklahoma men’s golf team. He guided his alma mater to three NCAA Tournament appearances.
Awtrey’s tenure at The PGA of America national headquarters included his being at the forefront in 1990 when exclusionary practices in golf were being questioned. The immediate aftermath of the 1990 PGA Championship at Shoal Creek Country Club in Birmingham, Ala., resulted in The PGA of America leading the campaign for all golf organizations to adopt policies prohibiting discriminatory clubs from acting as hosts of their tournaments. During his PGA term, membership rose from 15,000 to 27,000 and the Ryder Cup evolved into one of the greatest events in sport.
Awtrey would oversee the formation of PGA Properties, including the debut of PGA Golf Club at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and the purchase in 2000 of Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. Following his PGA of America tenure, Awtrey became senior vice president of Landmark Land Co. Inc. in November 2006 and served until May 2009.
Awtrey is a board member of the Landmark Land Co.; a trustee/fellow on the Georgetown College board in Lexington, Ky.; a board member of the Digital Media Arts College in Boca Raton, Fla.; and the Golf Coaches Association board of directors; and he serves on the Clearview Legacy Foundation, the advisory council for the Palmer Children’s Hospital and chairs the Palmer Cup. Awtrey and his wife, Jeanne, live in Windermere, Fla., and are the parents of daughters Jena and Julie; and a son, Justin. They have six grandchildren.