Seth Waugh on PGA Frisco’s Impact on the Future of the Game
By Matt Adams
An overview of the putting green at PGA Frisco Headquarters on August 17, 2022 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by The Marmones LLC/PGA of America)
Even under the best circumstances, moving from one place to another is a difficult undertaking. That’s true for individuals as well as organizations. So, when the PGA of America decided to relocate their home from South Florida to Frisco, Texas, it was done with much consideration and foresight, with the firm belief that the payoff would be well worth the effort.
Today, as the PGA prepares to officially welcome the golfing world to its new home, that long-imagined future has arrived, and even those who held the highest hopes are amazed by what they see.
“I think it’s one of those very few cases where the reality is better than the dream,” says Seth Waugh, CEO, PGA of America “You walk in that first floor [of the new PGA offices] and you see the golf through the windows, you see the [indoor] short game area, and you think, like, ‘I’m in Fenway Park or AT&T Stadium,’ those hallowed cathedrals of sports. That’s what it feels like to me.”
The PGA of America’s 106,600-square-foot building is indeed stunning, beautifully designed to offer awe-inspiring views of the surrounding area golf courses. It’s also feature laden for PGA Members and Associates, with an indoor golf performance laboratory and interactive exhibits paying homage to the PGA’s long and storied history.
As Waugh says, it’s a building that PGA of America Staff can enjoy working to promote the PGA Member and the game, and a place that all 28,000 PGA of America members can visit, network and be proud of. And though the latter may be spread far and wide, Waugh wants to make it clear that the doors are always open to them.
“We had a building [in Florida], but there was no reason for a member to come through there,” he says. “We had training in a separate place, and we didn’t really have golf there. Now, our 28,000 Members and Associates will have a home, and we’ve spent a lot of time trying to make sure they feel welcome when they come.”
But the building is just one aspect. The entire 600-plus-acre PGA property was designed to be the mothership of golf in the United States, with two Championship Courses, a lighted par-3 short course, a 2-acre putting course, a TopGolf lounge, an Omni Resort and an entertainment district with restaurants and bars. The hope is that it will not only be a magnet for PGA of America Professionals, but anyone with even a passing interest in the game. Waugh even envisions the complex playing a big role in growing participation among non-golfers.
“I am really fired up about the par-3 course and the putting course, because I feel like that’s going to be a gateway to get people into the game,” he says.
And, unlike a lot of well-known golf courses in the United States, the PGA Frisco golf courses will be open to anyone who wants to play, giving fans the unique chance to walk the same fairways as the professionals they watch on their TV or mobile device.
“I’m looking forward to having a very inclusive environment,” says Waugh.
That everyone-is-welcome vibe is perfectly in line with Waugh’s philosophy that the game as a whole should be more approachable. He acknowledges that many view it as too stodgy or too exclusive, too much of an “old boys’ club,” and he hopes the PGA’s new home complex can help change those perspectives.
“I think we can make this a living, breathing example of how cool the game can be and how invitational it can be,” he says.
Now that the boxes are unpacked and the paint on those new buildings has dried, all that’s left is for the PGA of America’s new home to live up to some very lofty expectations. That means the real work is just beginning, and it’s a task that Waugh, his leadership team and everyone else in the PGA of America take very seriously.
“We have this amazing opportunity, and also this daunting responsibility, to make [the property] into everything it can possibly be,” says Waugh. “I just really have this sense that we’ve built something that’s really special, and now we have to use it properly. We’ve done the easy part; the hard part is executing our dream.”