the sweet spot
April 10, 1916: The Day The PGA of America Was Born
By Ryan Adams, PGA
Walter Hagen, pictured during a match in 1920, was one of 35 original charter members of the PGA of America. (Allsport Hulton/Archive/Getty Images)
How did the PGA of America get its start?
At lunch, of course.
The Professional Golfer's Association of America was originally conceived in January 1916 in New York City. A group of New York-area golf professionals and prominent amateur golfers, including the likes of five-time PGA Champion Walter Hagen, 1913 U.S. Open Champion Francis Ouimet, and famed course architect A.W. Tillinghast, attended a luncheon hosted by department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker at the ninth-floor restaurant of the Wanamaker Store in New York City.
Tom McNamara, a former caddie turned accomplished golfer turned talented salesman for Wanamaker – and someone who cared about the welfare of the club professional – provided the spark toward organization. He pressed upon Wanamaker that it was prime time to bring U.S. professionals together, and that the publicity would be advantageous. Locked into a retail battle with rival A.G. Spalding & Bros. for the sale of golf balls, Wanamaker enthusiastically approved the initiative.
The luncheon agenda addressed giving golf professionals a say when it came to the organization and staging of tournaments, among other employment issues. The response to creating such a body was positive, and additional meetings followed.
On April 10, 1916, in the second-floor boardroom of the Hotel Martinique on 32nd and Broadway, the Professional Golfers’ Association of America was established. There were 78 members elected that day, including 35 PGA Charter Members.
The Association began with seven PGA Sections: Metropolitan, Middle States, New England, Southeastern, Central, Northwestern and Pacific. The PGA of America, destined for a century of excellence, had begun.