MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- The Ron Schmid era at the Carolinas PGA Section is coming to an end with his retirement on Dec. 31, and the organization has lured Tennessee PGA Section executive director Jeff Abbot to be his replacement.
Schmid has been the CPGA's executive director for the past 16 years and has been in the golf industry for 45, having previously worked in Duke University athletics and at the Duke University Golf Club, Guyan Golf & Country Club in Huntington, W.Va., and Ohio State University Golf Club.
Abbot, 44, will end his eight-year reign over the Tennessee section when he begins working with the CPGA on Nov. 30.
The CPGA is the largest of the PGA of America's 41 sections with nearly 2,000 golf professional members at more than 800 golf facilities. The Tennessee section has approximately 500 members.
"I really love it here and thought I might retire here," Abbot said Monday from his Tennessee office. "But the Carolinas, with its rich golf history and being able to serve those 2,000 members, and with the two PGA Championships coming up in the next six years, it was exciting and I can't wait to get started over there.
"I am inheriting a great opportunity and I'm excited to work ... to build upon the established legacy of excellence."
The PGA of America is staging two of the next six PGA Championships in the Carolinas, in 2017 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte and in 2021 at Kiawah Island Resort's Ocean Course.
Schmid oversaw the relocation of the CPGA's headquarters from the Grand Strand to Bryan Park Golf Club in Greensboro, N.C., late in 2011.
The CPGA had been based on the Strand for 35 years. It was formed in Greensboro in 1923 and was in Durham, N.C., before moving to Little River in 1976. The organization sold its corporate office on two acres on S.C. 9 in 2006 for the expansion of Seacoast Medical Center, then leased office space at the Grande Dunes Resort Course nearly through 2011.
In addition to overseeing club and teaching professionals in the Carolinas and being involved in growth of the game initiatives, it also conducts numerous tournaments including the Carolinas Open, N.C. Open, S.C. Open and CPGA Section Championship, equivalent senior events and some junior tournaments, including the CPGA Junior and Charles Tilghman Junior each December at the Surf Golf and Beach Club.
The organization also held the intra-industry CPGA Merchandise Show in Myrtle Beach for the event's first 20 years before moving it to the Greensboro Coliseum Complex's special events center in 2014.
Abbot is a native of Columbus, Ohio. He earned a business administration degree from Notre Dame in 1993 and a Certified Public Accountant license while working for Deloitte in Cincinnati.
Unfulfilled by his career choice, he took a year break from work in 1997 and for six months he hiked the entire 2,181-mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine "to do some soul-searching. It was a great experience. I met some wonderful people and lifelong friends," Abbot said.
He earned a Masters of Sports Administration and Facility Management from Ohio University in 1998 and became engrossed in golf.
"It wasn't really until graduate school that I started playing a lot of golf," Abbot said. "Initially I thought I'd work in college athletics, but I kind of got the golfing bug in grad school and I thought this is one of the few sports careers you can play while working in it. So I set my sights on getting into the golf industry."
He was the Mid-Atlantic PGA Section's director of operations from 1998-2002 before he married and moved back to Columbus with his wife, Betsy, a pharmacist.
In Columbus, he served as both the director of corporate sales and controller for the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets, then reentered the golf business with the Tennessee section.
"I realized that my passion was for golf," Abbot said. "I really just missed golf, so I started looking to get back into it."
His Tennessee section earned the PGA's Herb Graffis Growth of the Game Award in 2013. Abbot said during his tenure the Tennessee PGA increased corporate sponsorships more than 500 percent, increased attendance at the annual meeting from less than 100 to 250 members, and increased participation and purses in tournaments.
"The game plan is to use the same model," Abbot said. "Ron is so respected and the Carolinas section is in a great position. At the end of the day our job is to grow the game and serve our members."
He'll be moving to Greensboro with his wife, 10-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son.
This article was written by Alan Blondin from The Sun News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
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